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Quint faces down THE WOLFMAN and lives to tell the tale!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. I just recently returned from 18 days of continuous travel (21 days if you count the road trip to New Orleans that led up to within 8 hours of my departure for Sundance) and I landed in Austin with just about an hour to make the AICN screening of THE WOLFMAN. The travel gods smiled upon me and the flight was smooth, the arrival early and bags among the first off the plane, so I was able to make my way to the Alamo and take in THE WOLFMAN. It was a packed screening with lots of great pre-show entertainment from the fine folks at the Alamo… everything from clips of Mad Monster Party to 8mm home movies from the 60s of kids dressing up as werewolves and mauling their friends. If Harry “sort of loved” Wolfman I sort of didn’t hate it. As usual we seem to have similar opinions on the movie, but he skewed a lot more positive. We both think the movie is flawed and I suppose Harry gives it more credit for what worked and I see it as more of a missed opportunity. As a bit of set up, my favorite Universal Monster Movie is The Wolf Man, followed closely with the first Three Frankensteins as one story. As films those are my favorites, but going by design The Creature From The Black Lagoon blows them all away in my book. As an adaptation THE WOLFMAN is second only to Francis Ford Coppola’s vision of DRACULA (if we’re looking at the last couple of decades’ worth of film adaptations). THE MUMMY was campy, not scary, and kinda stupid and Kenneth Branagh’s FRANKENSTEIN was a giant, if interesting, mess, so I don’t know if that’s exactly high praise. The flick is a 70% movie. It is almost there. The cinematography by Shelly Johnson is probably a career best, the film is unapologetically R-rated and Rick Baker’s Wolfman redesign is awesome… it moves great and you can see enough of Benicio Del Toro through the fur and prosthetic that you buy the hybrid creature. Emily Blunt has never been cuter to me, Anthony Hopkins chews as much scenery as I was hoping going by the trailer and Hugo Weaving was born to sport mutton chops. So, where did it go wrong? There are two key issues wrong with the movie… One, the script wasn’t there, specifically in regards to the love story, which is kind of crucial in a movie where love is supposed to be Lawrence Talbot’s only possibility of escape from his curse. Emily Blunt plays Gwen Conliffe, Talbot’s brother’s lady. When Talbot’s brother is mauled by some sort of creature she writes to Lawrence asking for him to return to his broken home in order to help find out what happened to his brother. This means Lawrence has to face a father who institutionalized him as a child. So within the span of a couple of months Gwen has to fall in love with Lawrence and become his savior according to a gypsy woman (played by the great Geraldine Chaplin). That’s not an unreasonable time, even given that her love is brutally murdered at the very beginning of this time span. But more focus is put on Lawrence’s crazy relationship with his kind of proud, kind of kooky father Sir John (played by Hopkins) than on the love story. Hey, I understand… it’s a crucial relationship in the movie and if you have Anthony Hopkins you better damn well use him. But you can’t set up a love story being so important and then only give it one half scene when Blunt is mending Lawrence’s busted lip and one full scene of him teaching her how to skip stones. The second major issue is that you can feel that this is a film divided. Even if the troubled production wasn’t common knowledge I think most film fans could spot that this isn’t fully one man’s vision. From what I gather Mark Romanek was firmly in the practical effects world and when Joe Johnston came on board three weeks before shooting he had a different set of priorities. Instead of just ditching Rick Baker and all his work, Johnston compromised and kept all the post-transformation Wolfman scenes prosthetics, but essentially threw out all of Baker’s prosthetic transformation builds. It’s a house divided and unfortunately Johnston’s house pales in comparison to Baker’s. I get labeled as anti-CG because of my love and respect for the artistry of practical effects, but I appreciate well done computer effects and don’t think they should be excluded from the filmmaking process at all. But there’s a forgiveness to practical effects that isn’t exactly there for CG and I think The Wolfman is a brilliant example of compare and contrast. The practical effects hold up brilliantly, you buy the Wolfman as a character, but the CG is spotty. Not all of it is bad. Some of the transformation stuff works, but most of it has the awfully distracting digital sheen, the light not bouncing off the flesh right, etc. Plus there are two horrendous CGI animals… a stag and a bear… that just kind of baffle the mind. Was it really cheaper to have a full dozen or more digital team fully realize, render and execute a digital bear than it would have been to shoot for a day with a real trained bear? I fully admit there’s also a factor of me being a practical effects junkie that knows Rick Baker designed a werewolf transformation that was scrapped in favor of some crappy CGI shots that feel more only a slight step up from AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN PARIS. Would I be this critical of the effects if it wasn’t The Wolfman? Maybe not, but this series and this particular creature has a history of pioneering effects work, whether it’s Jack Pierce’s make up on Lon Chaney Jr. or Rob Bottin’s work on THE HOWLING or Rick Baker’s make-up on An American Werewolf in London which was so groundbreaking they had to invent an Oscar for him. The drama partially works, the effects partially work and the action partially works. It feels like Johnston could have used an extra week of photography for some of the action scenes, particularly the big action set piece at the end. There are cool shots in the finale, but they feel cobbled together, with little connecting tissue. Honestly they made me a little unsure on how Johnston’s going to handle Captain America… But whenever I feel any doubt I think back to Rocketeer… which, looking at it without the nostalgia goggles, is far from perfect, but the iconography is there and the period feel is right. So, ultimately you have a movie that is almost fucking great… so close that it makes it worse that the film didn’t come together better. I don’t know what Romanek would have done differently if he felt constrained financially anyway, but I’m sure Johnston did the best he could coming in so late to the game… At the end of the day you have to look at what the final product is, forgetting the hard work and struggles to get it there. It’s the end product that will live on or disappear. And this end product is flawed. Interesting, yes, but not what it could have been. It’s up to the individual to decide if they can accept the movie, flaws and all, or let the flaws serve as a constant reminder of how almost there it is. I guess I fall more in the latter category. -Quint quint@aintitcool.com Follow Me On Twitter



Readers Talkback
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  • Feb. 12, 2010, 2:04 a.m. CST

    first

    by OnO

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 2:10 a.m. CST

    LOL I made first.

    by OnO

    Hollywood hasn't quite gotten cgi animals down. Reminds me of the cheap wolves in The Day After Tomorrow. I'm passing on this train wreck for when it's a rental.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 2:11 a.m. CST

    the cut

    by reni

    I can't believe the theatrical cut was done by Walter Murch. It's a mess. Every five minutes I was thinking 'This is bad, isn't it?' Did they use Donna Langley-Studio cut after all? The shorter one?

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 2:12 a.m. CST

    3rd

    by VonThunderballs

    well, well, well....i liked the movie even with it's faults.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 2:13 a.m. CST

    shit....

    by VonThunderballs

    missed 3rd....

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 2:27 a.m. CST

    Hmm...

    by Charlie & Tex

    ...suddenly enthusiasm for going to see this is waning. At least Quint gives a more definite opinion on the movie than Harry "kinda" Knowles.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 2:28 a.m. CST

    Well Quint, I'm with you...

    by The Dum Guy

    Just got done seeing it about 30 minutes ago and left the theatre not upset, but not as blown away as I was hoping for.<br><br>Thankfully, I read Harry's review and was able to tone down my expectations (gotta love Harry, but sometimes his love of cinema is bit much).<br><br>I would say that it is one of the best werewolf movies (which isn't saying much, esp. if you've seen the movie Werewolf), and I really dug the gypsy attack scene.<br><br>The only thing I didn't like (no fault to the film-makers) is that I only had 6 other people in the audience.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 2:40 a.m. CST

    Underwelming..

    by Ulrich von Bek

    but, worth seeing if you're a fan of the hitorical Wolfman. Not much else to say. The baddie works at light speed, and the film has other obvious flaws, but the flick is OK. Just not a mile close to Harry's glowing endorsement. It just isn't a very "lasting" version imho.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 2:43 a.m. CST

    There's no need to read that review..

    by MajorFrontbum

    ...anyone with an ounce of intelligence will instinctively know, that this movie, is a steaming Buffalo turd with sound.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 2:47 a.m. CST

    It has been a long wait for a so-so movie

    by CarmillaVonDoom

    Going this weekend; looking for a good time and nothing more so I should be fine!

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 2:50 a.m. CST

    The trailer has a VAN HELSING feel to me

    by 3D-Man

    That's not good. But I'll still see it, if only for Emily Blunt. Mmmmmm... Emily Blunt.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 2:52 a.m. CST

    MajorFrontbum, you shouldn't diss buffalo chips...

    by The Dum Guy

    Alot of people way-back-when used those to live by for a night or two (or a fortnight)... so maybe, what you're saying is that The Wolfman is a life saver (with sound)?

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 3 a.m. CST

    Sorry Quint but you're being a bit too stubborn

    by CampKoala

    The CG transformation is stunning. I'm a die hard American Wereworlf fan since it came out, but I had to take my hat off to this and call it superior in every way. Unless you can show me footage of an animatronic rig changing shape so dramatically and believably while climbing stairs I've got to call you on that. The bone distortion, popping and so forth was beautifully done and worth the admission price alone. As for the bear and stag, yeah the bear stood out a bit, but can you really get an acting bear to react like that with actors around it? At best you'd need to green screen it and then it would stand out. Likewise with the stag, you can't tie a real animal up and scare it sh1tless (anymore), but then I did wonder if they had the CG there is so good. Give the effects work a break, Rick's work is stunning and he has embraced CG, you should learn to too. You're right about the love story/script though. 8/10, not 7 ;)

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 3:07 a.m. CST

    please tell me Blunt's at least a little nekked

    by TheSeeker7

    There's gotta be SOME kind of positive to the R rating past just plenty of blood and gore. I need very badly to witness even some of Emily Blunt's naked form.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 3:19 a.m. CST

    TheSeeker7

    by The Dum Guy

    You will get an almost side boob-shot, but, not enough.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 3:34 a.m. CST

    According to a Joe Johnston's interview —

    by blakindigo

    — "…the film’s DVD will have nearly 17 minutes of restored footage…"<br><br>That's a lot of material.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 3:38 a.m. CST

    Didn't notice the CGI deer or bear

    by No Respectable Gentleman

    Admittedly the projection was slightly out-of-focus where I saw it, but hell, I thought the deer and bear were real! Elsewhere, too, the CGI is top class. The film's major flaw is that it lacks a compelling thematic dimension.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 4:06 a.m. CST

    The Bear didn't start out CG

    by Pandorum

    It started out as a practical effect, a puppet if you will. It was comically bad and ended up being replaced with CG, which although not perfect, is a huge step up from what was originally shot.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 4:08 a.m. CST

    Just got back from seeing this

    by jcrow

    and it sucks. The performances by the two male leads are uneven, its boring, and it's very predictable. There's no real tension in the earlier scenes b/c you know who's going to be in the "battle royale." Then, SPOILER ALERT, they leave it open for sequel. Okay, not really a spoiler, but don't want people to bitch. It's just very disappointing considering the acting talent and that Rick Baker was on board (his work is great).

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 4:11 a.m. CST

    I'm just such a fan of The Wolfman..

    by sonnyfern

    ...it's impossible for me NOT to see this. I'm really excited.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 4:23 a.m. CST

    People making too much of the CGI deer and bear

    by quantize

    They weren't nearly as bad as anyone is saying, ..the bear was ok but the deer was pretty obvious. Either way the CGI transformation stuff was awesome...i dont know how anyone could knock that. The fx were all pretty top notch here. The drama was flat though...quite

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 4:25 a.m. CST

    jcrow is right

    by quantize

    theres FUCK ALL tension in it, and thats its BIGGEST FAILING. The fact neither Quint or Harry can say that outright only points to how hacky they both are. The film is deeply bereft of genuine tension and suspense, which seems so bizzare considering the opportunities (ie the asylum scene)

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 4:26 a.m. CST

    theres also quite a few cheap scares..none of which work

    by quantize

    BOO! <p> not one of them had my wife leaping and she loves nothing more than to be spooked by a horror film.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 4:28 a.m. CST

    agree with CampKoala. you're a wet blanket Quint

    by quantize

    the transformations were awesome..particularly the CGI parts..

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 4:30 a.m. CST

    quantize, the asylum scene was the best set-piece for me

    by blakindigo

    — but, I totally agree that the cheap scares and hackneyed use of the score got old quickly.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 4:32 a.m. CST

    And, the transformations were BETTER than AWIL.

    by blakindigo

    Seriously. The best yet.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 4:41 a.m. CST

    Is it possible to talk to Rick Baker again and discuss —

    by blakindigo

    — how much of his practical transformations are still in the film? Is he able to speak/write about that since the film is released? He is a LEGEND and master of multiple crafts (ever see his sculpting with Zbrush? Geezus. The man's talent is simply astonishing).

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 5:40 a.m. CST

    'Curse of the Werewolf'...

    by workshed

    ...it the best remake of the Wolf Man story. It knocks them all into a cocked hat. Hammer took the remake baton, ran with it, and made sure that it was damn near impossible to attain their Gothic look without comparison.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 5:59 a.m. CST

    AWIL best transformation scene EVER BUT-

    by sonnyfern

    -I LOVE the design of the wolves in The Howling, big ears and all, those were-wolves are fucking completely badass, but I'll give the transformation to AWIL...but I dig my wolves on two legs...

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 6:01 a.m. CST

    The Wolfman review

    by Long_Duk_Dong

    Check it out http://tinyurl.com/yjrrfjd

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 6:04 a.m. CST

    just a thought

    by mexicant

    Coppolla's dracula is a great movie, however Dracula's character and nature are completely different from the novel (In the novel dracula is basically a monster that wants to drink blood and has no feelings - in the movie he is a monster but he is also a very human, feeling love, etc.). In that sense it is not a very faithful adaptation (and in my opinion is a much better movie for it).

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 6:53 a.m. CST

    blakindigo

    by quantize

    The escape from the asylum into the streets was great..but i dunno..i never felt a moment of 'watch out everybody!'.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 6:56 a.m. CST

    Just admit it sucks, AICN staff

    by reflecto

    Stop pretending. We all knew this was shit a year ago but you have to play this Kabuki bullshit, why? Because if you pretend this is good somebody somewhere someday might make a GOOD monster movie again? Sorry, I don't blow the towel boy hoping someday the quarterback will come back to town and fuck me.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 7:24 a.m. CST

    Johnston on the CGI transformations...

    by bluelou_boyle

    He basically says he came in only 3 weeks before it started filming. So he did not have time to plan good practical transformations scenes. Remember, it takes Baker a long time to plan and build all the effects work. CGI gave him more leeway to design exactly what they wanted.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 7:41 a.m. CST

    Good God they BETTER show us what might have been

    by white_vader

    on the DVD. Or let Baker vent in a commentary (yeah I know fat chance). <p> Anyway I'm trying to temper my excitement, going to see it tomorrow night. <p> I think it's cool my wife has been hanging out for this too. I'll convert her yet (the ultimate victory will be when I eventually get her to watch The Exorcist).

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 7:47 a.m. CST

    Baker Rules

    by BeyondStatic

    It's awesome that Rick Baker gets to update the amazing transformation effect he did on "American Werewolf in London" that won him the Oscar. If nothing else, even if the movie sucks, it's worth seeing to get to see Baker do "The Wolfman."

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 7:48 a.m. CST

    You know, Baker has been threatening to retire for ages

    by white_vader

    ... and the saddest thing about this movie could be that it might be the straw that broke the camel's back. God I hope not. <p> If it is, I'll be pretty conflicted. No-one seems to appreciate how Johnston's designs (not to mention boards) defined the look of Star Wars' "used universe" (what is all this revisionist history that says Alien invented that?!) even more than McQuarrie. He's a design God. But if this film makes the Monstermaker throw up his hands in defeat, well... Baker is a genius. Oh boy...

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 8:46 a.m. CST

    Huge fan of Wolf Man

    by blackwood

    Tolerant of CGI.<p>Haven't seen the film yet, but I will, because I love Wolf Man and werewolves in general. My people come from Poland and there may or may not have been a werewolf attack in my family history. I'm not saying I believe all that stuff, but I am saying I started to get back hair at 9 so something might be up with that.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 10:13 a.m. CST

    I like practical effects, but I've never seen...

    by Chewtoy

    ...a great transformation sequence done practically. I've seen a lot attempted, and I've seen some that were cool despite their flaws, but I've always seen "Latex" as easily as I've seen bad "CGI". However, I've seen some CG transformations that come across as completely believable. <br><br> Personally, I love old effects work for its distinctive charms (Love stop-motion... especially in more modern films like "Robocop" where it seems almost oddly out of place.) I'd hate to see everything go CGI. I also tend to think that works best for adding to practical work... I'd rather a man in suit be filmed and then embellished for the best look. However, when care is taken to do it well, there's no doubt that CGI outperforms practical effects 9 out of 10 times for certain types of actions and shots. Changing a man to a wolf is definitely one of them, in my mind.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 10:22 a.m. CST

    Quint I disagree with you COMPLETELY on the CGI

    by D.Vader

    As I pointed out in Harry's review, do you *really* think the ASPCA would have allowed the filmmakers to put a stag in distress by tying it up and scarying the beejeezus out of it to get a terrified performance from it? No? That's why it went CGI, and you can't really tell its CGI except in the one scene where it is tearing as hard as it can to get away, AND he's far off in the background and kind of hard to see. <p> As for the bear, he looked real in the first shot (which is so quick its hard to tell), but definitely CGI in the shot where it stands up and roars. Do you really think it would have been safe for everyone involved to put a live bear THAT close (it was in the middle of a crowd of people) to extras and make it roar? Think about it, Quint. <p> Its things that like that that really do get you labeled as being anti-CGI, bc it seems to me that in these particular cases, CGI was the best and safest way to achieve the filmmakers' goal of showing terrified, distressed animals in a close proximity to humans.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 10:23 a.m. CST

    And that's a really low blow comparing this to AAWIP

    by D.Vader

    (An American Werewolf in Paris) <p> Those CGI shots are HORRENDOUS. These CGI shots are MILES above those in that film. <p> Now I'm kinda lukewarm on the movie, but I think you really are a bit biased against CGI, bc the work in this film is pretty damn good.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 10:26 a.m. CST

    Fuckin Joe Johnston.

    by Traumnovelle

    I will always have a chip on my shoulder with this guy due to the fact that he MADE THE CONSCIOUS DECISION TO SCRAP A NEW RICK BAKER PRACTICAL EFFECTS WEREWOLF TRANSFORMATION. Good god. If the guy likes CG, fine, but he punished US, the movie fans, when he made that decision. He decided to withhold what may have been cinema magic. Didn't he even fucking see American Werewolf in London? <P> Fucking Joe Johnston. I'm going to punch him in the face one day.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 10:27 a.m. CST

    To those wondering, you DO get Emily Blunt side-boob!

    by D.Vader

    Which I made sure to mention in my review I sent to Harry and Merrick, bc I know that's what the fanboys want to hear.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 10:30 a.m. CST

    Do we have proof Johnston made the choice to scrap Baker?

    by D.Vader

    Or is this just rumors? Is there a story out there that actually CONFIRMS this? I've never read it, and I've only treated it as a rumor.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 10:44 a.m. CST

    Romanek's WolfMan would have been amazing

    by TheWaqman

    instead we have to settle for Joe Johnston's shit. Why do you guys like him? Because he made that shitty Rocketeer movie years ago?

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 11 a.m. CST

    Recycled Golden Compass effect

    by ndally

    Joe Johnston said in a collider interview that the they had a real bear but it was to pricey so the VFX company had a bear from the Golden Compass already modeled and rendered in some VFX database so they just used that and modified it so it wouldn't be a polar bear. also he said the stag was from some flick not yet out or something. Real isn't always better especially with the way Joe Johnston shoots animatronics(Jurasic Park III had shit animatonics). Anyways JJ isn't a very good film maker and we should all be bracing for failure with Captain America(even though I think he's going to be replaced before production begins)

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 11:11 a.m. CST

    I don't know, ndally

    by D.Vader

    I thought the animatronics in Honey I Shrunk the Kids were pretty great.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 11:14 a.m. CST

    D.Vader..

    by Traumnovelle

    In Harry's review he plainly said that it was Johnston's choice to go with CG over practical. We all know Harry can be a bit...misinformed, at times, but he can also have solid info too. Anyway, I read that and ran away with it. And if what 'ndally' said is true, Johnston is just lazier than shit. <P> I understand filming a distressed deer would be both difficult and rife with weird legalities, I just wish filmmakers would, once in a while, SET themselves in the mindstate of the 80's. Pretend those computers they have aren't even there. TRY to get that shot with a real deer, if it it doesn't pan out, TRY with an animatronic, and if that doesn't pan out, fuckin scrap the shot entirely and come up with something else as cool. It's those tough obstacles that sometimes lead to gold if they are tackled by a talented group of artists. It's like these days they are working so hard just to eliminate the need to work so hard. <P> I don't know.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 11:42 a.m. CST

    I hope we get to see Rick's work on DVD eventually

    by BenBraddock

    What kind of misguided soul ditches Rick baker's work for sub-par CGI?

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 11:49 a.m. CST

    Traumnovelle

    by D.Vader

    I don't trust much in Harry's review, but its been a rumor for a long time; he could just be regurgitating the rumor. I wanna see a concrete story or admittance that it happened. <p> As for your suggestion that filmmakers "set" themselves in the 80s mindset, I'm shocked that no one mentions that Johnston DID when it came to the transformation scenes. <p> Johnston approached the very first transformation scene in a very *old-school* way, using old cinematic tricks but with updated tools. <p> He shoots the transformation just as he would have shot it in the 80s, only instead of practical effects its CGI. Here's a shot of the foot growing, here's a shot of the hand growing, here's a shot of his ears and face with some extra hair, repeat, etc. <p> Its a very old-school approach, as you suggested, one from the mindset of the 80s, and I'm very surprised no one else has bothered to mention it. <p> As for "TRY with an animatronic, and if that doesn't pan out, fuckin scrap the shot entirely and come up with something else as cool," I don't think Johnston had the benefit of that. He was hired 2 weeks before shooting started. That's not a lot of time to "test" things out, and it sounds like he was constrained by budgetary reasons. It would have been cheaper and faster to do it all CGI and I think the studio was standing over his shoulder through the entire process (how else do you explain the firing of the composer and editors?).

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 11:51 a.m. CST

    Also I meant to add...

    by D.Vader

    "TRY with an animatronic, and if that doesn't pan out, fuckin scrap the shot entirely and come up with something else as cool,"" <p> That ends up being a waste of time and money, something I think the studio would not have allowed.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 12:33 p.m. CST

    D. Vader — Bravo! I agree entirely.

    by blakindigo

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 1:06 p.m. CST

    Yea.

    by Traumnovelle

    I keep forgetting he was brought on late. Still. And maybe I worded that wrong, don't TRY all those things, but CONSIDER them. If, after all the consideration it doesn't feel like it will work well, THEN come up with something else. <P> But again, you kinda lose that luxury when you get hired to direct a movie two weeks before cameras start rolling. You are right. <P> I just remember Spielberg saying that he was going to go that route for Crystal Skull, all practical effects and matte paintings, and he....well, he didn't. THERE'S someone who had all the time and money to try different methods.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 6:01 p.m. CST

    D. Vader

    by Quint

    Producer Scott Stuber was at the AICN Wolfman Screening and said that Mark Romanek's approach was very practical minded and Joe Johnston comes from a VFX background, so when he came on board he made the decision to do a fully CG transformation instead of Baker's practical work. That's not a rumor, that comes from the producer of the movie. Johnston did compromise (Stuber's words) and kept the entire wolfman make-up in the movie as much as possible. If I had to guess I'd say that Benicio had something to do with that, considering he's a massive classic monster fan himself.<BR><BR>I don't hate CGI... the baby in Children of Men blew me away, Jurassic Park still blows me away and the work on Gollum and tons of the stuff done in Avatar is incredible. District 9 was also fantastic. I said in the review there's a forgiveness that practical effects that isn't there for CGI and I stand by that. There's an artistry there that I prefer. I fully admit that's a personal taste, but I'm no luddite when it comes to computer effects. There's some bad, bad CG effects in this movie. If it were bad, bad practical effects I'd make mention of that, too, but Baker's work is consistently great... the CG is spotty.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 6:41 p.m. CST

    AWIL effects..

    by Traumnovelle

    If you look closely, sure you can see that it's not a real werewolf transformation. It's a movie. You can spot the seams if you scrutinize any special effect. BUT, with a little suspension of disbelief, it is magical, because each shot is really happening. They are really filming those things, they weren't added in post. I still look at that transformation these days with the same eyes with which I saw it as a little kid. It fucking FLOORED me. <P> I mean, of course you can see that he was halfway in the floor, but you're missing the point entirely.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 7:54 p.m. CST

    "there's a forgiveness [for] practical effects that isn't there

    by white_vader

    for CGI". <p> In ALL senses of the word, Quint. In ALL senses.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 8:49 p.m. CST

    Quint

    by D.Vader

    Thanks for the clarification on the Johnston CGI transformation issue. I still feel like there is more there than just what's at the surface, however, like much of this movie. I wonder who's call it was to fire the composer and the editors, etc. Studio? Producers? Director? This could be a great DVD if the suits would allow it.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 10:06 p.m. CST

    Big D

    by white_vader

    Is that the same sideboob (my wife loves that expression and asked me if there's one called "underboob" - I said yes) as in the first trailer? If so, ripped off! This film sux!

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 10:36 p.m. CST

    I believe so? I don't quite remember the trailer...

    by D.Vader

    But the shot of her side boob did look familiar. I think maybe you get a bit more of it than what they could show in the trailer, know what I mean?

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 10:45 p.m. CST

    I checked the trailer here on the AICN front page

    by D.Vader

    That shot in the trailer is toward the tail end of the take. If I remember correctly, her arms is in the air like she's fixing her hair, so you get a nice shot of the sideboob before she puts her arm down and turns her head to look back at you, the camera. So its better than in the trailer.

  • Feb. 13, 2010, 12:33 a.m. CST

    Hooray for boobies!

    by white_vader

    Actually more of a leg guy but that's my fave album title ever.

  • Feb. 13, 2010, 8:56 a.m. CST

    Traumnovelle and others

    by white_vader

    "It's a movie", "With a little suspension of disbelief". You're It's really happening and they weren't added in post don't make any sense in the context of something that DOESN'T happen in real life. Because it's there physically you can't say obvious latex rubber is more convincing or that stiff pneumatic or cable-driven actions when a character has to move are more convincing than cg movement with an 'unconvincing' sense of mass or dodgy skin quality. <p> Just say something like "it's just my preference" or "I like it better" without all the misinformed justifications and you won't trip yourself up on the semantics of it all. Having to stick a guy through a hole and nail a character to the ground (and I'm talking about the majority of animatronic and puppet work, not just AMIL) absolutely holds believability back every bit as much as a dodgy cg creature. YOU miss the point entirely too, because you apply the forgiveness for practical, but don't do it for CG in EXACTLY the same way! Go back, read your own post and apply those comments to cg and you'll have to admit you weren't fair at all. And the first sentence is ridiculous "a real werewolf transformation" - ha! And all the others that supposedly have a yardstick as to what a "real" Yoda/Alien looks like as their justification and defence of a puppet who if we're honest, has just about NO mouth articulation or movement! So true to actual aliens though! This gets to the whole point that both traditional AND CG effects will NEVER convince us, no matter how good they get. Because of context. We will ALWAYS know from the get-go it's not happening because it DOESN'T or CAN'T. Catch-22 in terms of the eye vs the brain. This will NEVER change. ESPECIALLY as cg allows for more and more outrageous imagination to roam free. <p> CG takes so many of the constraints away that it SEEMS worse than traditional (if you don't think it through) - but because the more purely writers and directors can indulge their imagination the MORE we get into the problem that "this couldn't POSSIBLY be real" and therefore your brain is constantly fighting with itself. SEEMS worse because they're SO much more ambitious than before. This will NEVER be solved, but it's the impossible goal that effects artists, BOTH practical and physical have set themselves. The thing is with practical they're not aiming for the stars in the scope of the illusion, because the shortcomings will be revealed much more quickly. Practical is more about sleight-of-hand. Saying that's more 'clever' than digital is an apples-to-oranges argument because you still have to take yourself out of the movie to properly appreciate it. And reveals an innate misunderstanding of the artists' goal. You're not even fair about the fact that if you'd seen say, the aliens in Avatar (I'd use this Wolfman movie for comparison but I don't see it til tonight and besides, it's not a clean all-practical vs all-digital argument anyway) as a "little kid" you'd be just as fucking floored, AND forgiving as an eventual adult. If you saw Superman the movie now with the clownish Lex and bumbling cohorts you'd be JUST as hard on it as other internet age scapegoats. And BTW CG HAS perfected a LOT of "realistic" effects. Sure you all appreciate the 'art' of traditional matte painting, but the irony is that the many times you see movies you DON'T think are 'effects' films, you don't even NOTICE them they're so realistic. Yes, irony. Because it's called "the invisible art". <p> And most people ignorantly whining about this stuff NEVER take into account the MOST important part - the PERFORMANCE, acting and direction. It's not the animatronic itself that finally sells the effect. Every step of the way, the PEOPLE are the most important. The designer, who takes into account what needs to be relayed and can decide whether the look, the movement or both should relay the story point visually. And the puppeteer, NOT the puppet, for the way they use the cables or remotes to get that convincing movement that makes the character or sequence "come alive". The happy medium in a lot of effects is when the stylised look of the alien or whatever syncs up with the also stylised movement (or lack thereof) of the face or body, and all comes together. The spider-alien in CEOT3K for example. Or many E.T. shots where the limitations of the mechanism/controls/latency infer personality traits and specific body language by default. Mechanical and performance quirks accidentally become character quirks. Whatever you can make work though, it's all good! If going for more realism though, a stylised approach falls short and the difficulty is amped up tenfold. <p> And you know what? The same is EXACTLY true of CG. Let's take a piece of garbage like New Moon. The wolves there LOOK pretty great. The eyes (most important) are good (which IS mostly where practical has it all over cg even from what I've seen of this new wolfman movie). I'm not talking the transformation because that's not the point of the scenes OR the story. Besides, it's just a perfunctory one and is actually not a transformation shot - it's a "Transformers" shot! Look at it!! Boy did I laugh (chicks were pissed off)! The movement in and of ITSELF for the big wolves scene is pretty great. UNTIL you realise that they're not moving funny because they're just "not right", they're moving funny because our brains tell us wolves don't DO that. Because in the context of the story, these are essentially wolves who have human brains, not wolf brains that govern their body language and movement. So when the wolves head someone off, or increase their speed suddenly to outrun the person, our brains INSTANTLY go "WRONG!" because the impetus was a human, not a wolf one. Not to mention that your brain's been telling you that already because one of the other points of the story is that these wolves are 5 or 10 times as big as they should be. But hey, it still achieved the point of the scene and the motivations of the characters. You couldn't even START a scene like that which obviously was integral to the story, with practical. It'd be a watered-down joke of oversized puppets and real wolves in closeups and lightning-fast cutaways that completely interrupt the previous cinematic language and rhythm. And everybody would be taken out of the movie 10 times as much as with the cg. What's generally happened in the past is that writers hobbled themselves in the first place, knowing it couldn't be realised, and so drastically scaled down/compromised the scene or deleted entirely so as not to cause the headache in the first place. So much for writing and imagination. Now, they don't have those constraints, so why intentionally constrain them at the point of creation? And just as a capper, a lot of that werewolf stuff was done by Tippett studio. Phil Tippett was one of the greastest stop-mo guys ever, up there with Harryhausen. When he started doing digital (on Jurassic Park), he/they were instantly the best, because they knew PERFORMANCE and MOTIVATION. The daytime stuff on Starship Troopers was a DECADE ahead of most cg, not because the tech was there, but because they fucked around with the compositing until it looked right to their trained eyes. And those trained eyes didn't come from stop-motion, they came from the basics of observation and aesthetic knowledge. Practical OR digital/cg, it's STILL the people. MOST practical was mediocre, and CG shouldn't be taken to task because MOST of that will be, too. <p> The wolves in Day after Tomorrow would have sucked EITHER way. If they'd done the whole thing with real wolves it would have been a mess of film-making band-aids. Real wolves in a film will give you an INHERENTLY bad performance. Because if they're trained enough to be in a movie in the first place, they're NOT starving to death and will never approach unfamiliar and inorganic terrain in the same way as one who was. And the whole thing becomes a nightmare of editing tricks to do a poor man's job of imparting the peril, the geography in respect to the potential victim, desperation and ferociousness of the wolves, and on and on. So yes, CG wolves are just as (in)effective on every level. But if the director and animators/actors took all the filmmaking concerns into account AND the nature of the real animals, it would've been better. The whole thing there is a bit academic anyway, because minutes later from memory we have real humans running in terror from FROST. People are complaining about dodgy wolves?! Priorities and context people! EVRYTHING'S dodgy i that flick! <p> Finally, a good example is Jumanji. Let's say that flick came out now. Let's say that Lion looked absolutely convincing/perfect (remember most of what TBers say doesn't "look" right actually doesn't MOVE right). It would STILL suck. Because the performance/actions of the animal don't make sense in the FORST place. He's at the top of a flight of stairs, in a house. With humans. He's going to be unsteady on the marbled floor, slipping and hesitant on the stairs, jittery and redy to clumsily attack at any sound or motion. But he walks down the stairs, growls a bit and off he goes. NOTHING to do with technology. But again, storytelling-wise, what's the alternative? Even if you have the best animatronic lion the world has ever seen, you've either gotta lose the scene completely, or have some shit like someone opening the door, it growls, then they shut it or something. Stoo-pid. If and when it DOES come down to spending al that money, at least the cg one will serve the story better in this case. But it's still good people that make all the difference, and they're in short supply. <p> Not to mention that the amount of TBers in here have no idea how much computer stuff is done "by hand" anyway.If computers ARE so magical and can do all that stuff "for" you, then tell me WHY there are HUNDREDS of PEOPLE on the credits? You guys make no sense. Especially when you don't understand how digital OR practical effects are really done. <p> Finally, the crux of inherently unrealistic effects is this. Most TBers, most of YOU. Go to see movies PRECISELY to see things you CAN'T see in "real" life. And then you fucking whine about it. No wonder you're all so cranky and conflicted!

  • Feb. 13, 2010, 7:42 p.m. CST

    Yow.

    by Traumnovelle

    Okay, you're right. I just don't like the look of CG. It's almost always too smooth and too shiny. Handmade prosthetics and animatronics look like they were made with love and care. But that's just me. If you see the love put into computer effects, that's great. The majority of the time, I don't. And honestly, I don't CARE how many people worked on the computer effects, and that they did so by hand. TO ME, it just doesn't look good. Again, not all the time, but a lot of the time. <P> And the sentence I wrote about a 'real werewolf transformation' was obviously a joke, dude. <P> But in all sincerity, good retort. All your points are dead-on. I should have just clarified that...no, no. I shouldn't have said anything really, besides 'I don't like how CG looks'.

  • Feb. 13, 2010, 11:55 p.m. CST

    Thanks dude

    by white_vader

    Classy of you man. You're right, a lot of the time it DOES look too smooth and shiny. But that has nothing necessarily to do with the technique itself and everything to do with the artists who don't have a good enough eye or understanding of mass and motion. Or just left some settings on 'default'. The artists. And many prosthetics WERE dodgy and NOT made with enough care or same again, knowledge. Having said that, even if they do have the stuff, many times it can all come down to the director who says, "Make it smoother and more shiny". Same as in the old days when the director said a mechanical, juddering movement was "fine, let's move on"! <p> One final thing about it is that in terms of what we see, traditional is most of a century old, and the majority of it which is lousy to O.K. has faded away/not generally seen or available, so we're left with the best. With CG, we're only a couple of decades in and we're seeing ALL the lousy stuff! <p> Cheers mate.

  • No, I cant accept the movie. An actionmovie wants to give you a ride, a drama wants to get you emotional, a horror movie wants to scare you. But a horror drama that aims att being scary and make you emotional, without being scary and whith a story and characters so thin that it wakes no emotions at all failes. I cant accept things like *spoiler* Lawrence turning into the wolfman at first sight of the moon in the asylum, but later he and pops chatted for quite som time in the moonlight before turning. Or the camp being attacked by the Wolfman while Lawrense were there in plain sight, and still the police suspects him to be the killer. *spoilerend* It´s more important to me that the story works then that the transformations look cool.

  • Feb. 20, 2010, 10:10 a.m. CST

    Very reasonable and justified review, Quint.

    by Knuckleduster

    Nice one.