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THE WOLFMAN had a lot of hype (as well as a lot of drama behind-the-scenes), but its critical reception was mixed at best, and it didn’t exactly roar at the box office, pulling in a little over $60 million domestically and $139 million worldwide. Special FX guru Rick Baker did the makeup on the film, and recently gave his thoughts on THE WOLFMAN and practical vs. visual FX, as well as revealed the next big project on his calendar.
The LA Times spoke with Baker, who had this to say about THE WOLFMAN: “I never pursue stuff, I’m kind of stupid that way, I’m not really a good businessman. I like when somebody calls me because they want to use me. But with this one, I went and talked to someone at Universal and said, ‘If this is really going to happen and it’s going to put a person into makeup—as it should be done—then you got to use me. I really want to do this.’ I [needed] to make an homage to the Jack Pierce makeup, but I also [needed] to modernize it and make it work for a modern audience. It was a daunting task.”
If you saw the movie, then you know that Benicio Del Toro’s Wolfman metamorphosis was done digitally. “They pretty much left me out of the transformation,” Baker says. “They did it with CG. They utilized my ideas and concept sculptures, they scanned it all in, but it was all done in the computer. I would like to have been involved in it more because I also do a lot of computer stuff—I do my designs on the computer—but I thought they did a terrific job. On the Blu-ray there’s a lot of cool stuff showing how the transformation was accomplished and also how I did my thing. It’s great for people to be able to see all that stuff.
“I embrace the technology and I’ve been doing my designs on the computer for 22 years now. It’s another trick in your bag of tricks. There are things you can do [with computers] we can’t do with rubber and animatronics. But I hate when the computer stuff just makes for sloppy filmmaking, and it has. The common thing you hear now is, ‘We’ll fix it in post.’ ‘There’s a C-stand in the shot; well, we’ll take it out in postproduction. We’ll have somebody paint it out.’ Well, why don’t you just walk over, grab it and move it out? It makes so much for sloppy filmmaking. It also annoys me when people now think it’s the only way to do things.”
Speaking about his reaction and review of THE WOLFMAN, Baker offers, “It’s the closest thing to a monster movie that’s been out in a long time. It’s not a knife-wielding-crazy-guy-movie where teenagers get cut up in the worst ways possible. It’s more of a Gothic horror film. It’s very much a monster movie, and I hoped it would bring back monster movies. Will this make it harder to continue to make more? I don’t know. Frankly, it seems to me that part of the problem was when it was released. To put out a movie called WOLFMAN on Valentine’s Day weekend against a movie called VALENTINE’S DAY. I didn’t really understand the logic of that. What do you expect? Release it on Halloween and I’m sure it would have done a lot better.”
Oh, and that other project that Baker is attached to? “I’m just starting up now on MEN IN BLACK III, which is another one I wanted to do because I worked on the first two.” No word on whether Baker will also return to monkey business on the PLANET OF THE APRES prequel, already slated for release by Fox in summer 2011.
Click here to read Fango’s WOLFMAN Blu-ray review.
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