Universal clearly greenlighted theThe Wolfman with no "big idea" behind it--a strong hook for a remake or reinvention. Del Toro's manager Rick Yorn sold the studio on a remake of the 1941 Lon Chaney, Jr. classic, a fave of his client. So the studio went back to the original and set the film in the 1800s. That helped to make the movie hugely expensive--Universal also plowed through two directors, two composers, two editors. Check out the LAT's account of the film's misadventures, featuring hapless director Joe Johnston (Honey I Shrunk the Kids).
Yet The Wolfman isn't as bad as I feared. The scene where the werewolf scampers Hulk-like over London roof-tops is stunning. This is not a Stephen Sommers movie like Van Helsing. The Wolfman is not over-pixelated: it functions on a human scale. That's where six-time Oscar-winner Baker comes in. (EW interview here.) He's the man behind the laborious prosthetic make-up in King Kong, Mighty Joe Young, The Howling, Norbit, An American Werewolf in London and Michael Jackson's Thriller. While CG was used for the transitions in The Wolfman, as Baker told the folks at Comic-Con 2008: “Something magical happens when you get an actor in good makeup, when he sees himself in the mirror, and says, ‘I’m the Wolfman.' This is an old-school gothic horror movie.”
Here's the trailer: