Teen Wolf: The Movie
Old friends return to their hometown to fight a supernatural evil in Russell Mulcahy’s Teen Wolf: The Movie.
Teen Wolf ran for six seasons and a hundred episodes from 2011 to 2017, and at its conclusion had said pretty much all it had to, which immediately poses the question of what there is to gain from returning to its world in a movie. Unfortunately, the answer turns out to be not very much.
The plot revolves around the resurfacing of two major aspects of season 3, the return of chaos spirit the nogitsune, which has escaped its mystical cage to seek vengeance on those who imprisoned it, and the resurrection of Allison, who was killed in the season’s penultimate episode. The problem is that simply retreading familiar ground makes it look like the creatives were incapable of crafting a story that continues moving things forwards rather than looking to the past. While the physical and metaphysical battles against the nogitsune formed one of the series’ most compelling arcs, it was also resolutely concluded without any need for subsequent revisiting. It’s also unfortunate that the two characters most significant to its events, Stiles and Kira, are conspicuously absent due to Dylan O’Brien and Arden Cho declining to return, meaning the direct connection it has with the core group is absent.
Similarly, while it’s bad enough that the handling of Allison’s resurrection is so sloppy it’s impossible to take seriously, her presence and the subsequent rekindling of the romance between her and Scott triggers a major backtrack in the series’ development. Scott and Allison’s permanent breakup at the end of season 2 was a surprisingly mature development for a show focusing on teenagers, so circling back to portray the pair as star-crossed lovers finally finding each other again does a disservice to the development beyond their relationship each of them underwent. Also, we are apparently expected to believe that a man now into his thirties is still pining for the girl he tragically lost as a teenager. There was some potential to explore the ramifications of someone coming back from the dead, but any existential issues are glossed over to continue the not-especially compelling plot.
The film is very much made for existing fans with no details given for newcomers, assuming viewers possess all requisite knowledge of the ensemble of characters, which is one of its major weaknesses. Feeling it unnecessary to explore who these characters are in any way makes their personalities seem stagnant, a problem not helped by none of them seeming to have changed much during the fifteen-year time skip. The film seems to forget what made the show so popular outside of the worldbuilding of mashing together various creatures lifted from and inspired by various mythologies, specifically the relationships between the characters and affirmations of what they meant to each other, and to feature so little of this does a disservice to the fans who made it such a success.
Many of those returning are given little to do other than simply be there and remind viewers of how important to them they once were, while a particularly glaring addition is new character Hikari, a painfully obvious placeholder for Kira who is given zero characterisation in the entirely of the almost two-and-a-half-hour runtime. Another new face is Eli, Derek’s teenage son who seemingly sprang into being fully formed like Torchwood from Doctor Who, and whose primary function is to act like a Poundland/Dime Store Stiles, in the process utterly failing to fill the void left by the fan favourite character and only highlighting his absence further.
In an effort to find something positive to say, the effects work is as compelling as ever, largely forgoing ostentation in favour of subtlety. Compelling visuals bring to life the repulsive figure of the nogitsune, the shadowy demonic oni, the flare of kitsune foxfire and the obligatory chromatic glowing eyes of werewolves. However, that they’re augmentations rather than any true focal points means they’re not nearly enough to counter the film’s myriad shortcomings.
Overall, there’s nothing offensively wrong with the film, just that its disinterest in trying anything different is reflected back in that same apathy from the audience. Rather than being a worthy continuation, it’s instead an exercise in nostalgic wallowing, throwing out myriad references to the TV series as it unintentionally reminds you how much better a time you’d be having if you were rewatching it.
Teen Wolf: The Movie is an utterly unnecessary revisit that plays like glorified fan fiction, managing to forget everything that made the TV series such a success in the first place. It’s wholly inaccessible to anyone except existing fans of the show, but few of them will get anything truly satisfying out of it. The story has nothing new to say as it rehashes plots already played out, while what few potentially interesting ideas it does have are squandered in its quest to remind you how much you loved the TV series, ironically highlighting what a pale imitation of it this film is.
- the engaging effects work
- the recycled plotlines
- the lack of development for both new and existing characters
- no real justification or consequences for Allison’s resurrection
- little of the character interaction that made the show so popular
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