We review Teen Wolf: The Movie, the continuation of the 2011 MTV series starring Tyler Posey and Tyler Hoechlin.
Reason: A full moon rises in Beacon Hills and with it a terrifying evil emerges. The wolves howl again, calling for the return of banshees, werecoyotes, hellhounds, kitsunes, and every other shapeshifter of the night. But only a werewolf like Scott McCall (Tyler Posey), no longer a teenager but still an alpha, can gather new allies and reunite trusted friends to fight back against what could be the most powerful and deadliest enemy they ever faced.
Review: Aired for six seasons on MTV, Teen Wolf filled the hole after Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a teen-centric genre full of supernatural beings and soapy melodrama. Despite swapping vampires for werewolves, Teen Wolf followed a familiar formula for teen shows despite being significantly better than most of the shows on MTV. With a dedicated fanbase following stars Tyler Posey, Tyler Hoechlin and Dylan O’Brien, the series went off the air in 2017 with the promise of a sequel for some time. Now, Teen Wolf fans can rejoice in the return of their favorite characters in a long sequel that brings back favorites and has some surprises in store. While Teen Wolf: The Movie doesn’t do much to elevate itself from the series’ style, it’s chock full of fan-service moments that will please the franchise’s most ardent groupies.
Teen Wolf: The Movie, despite its subtitle, it doesn’t feel very cinematic. For a series that played heavily on supernatural elements, the special effects were always one of the more mediocre elements of Teen Wolf. Unlike the Michael J. Fox comedy film that inspired it, Teen Wolf consistently felt similar to the various shows on The CW, which catered to an audience that could overlook budgetary constraints in favor of intersecting storylines, plot twists, and unabashedly goofy characters. While showing as Supernatural managed to push the limits of limited effects budgets, Teen Wolf always featured questionable CGI, which is equally questionable in this film sequel. Highlanders director Russell Mulcahy, who helmed several episodes of Teen Wolf, conducts Teen Wolf: The Movie with a small screen approach that hides the scale and production values in shadow, fog and interior sets to hide the lack of depth to this production. This means that the series must rely on the actors to lift the material.
Except for Dylan O’Brien, Arden Cho and Cody Christian, the rest of them Teen Wolf cast returned to their roles for the film, including Crystal Reed, who left the series in the third season. Reed’s character returns as Allison Argent and triggers the former high school friends to reunite in their hometown of Beacon Hills, California when an old enemy returns to kill them all. Scott McCall (Tyler Posey), Lydia Martin (Holland Roden) and Malia Tate (Shelley Henning) team up with Chris Argent (JR Bourne), Derek Hale (Tyler Hoechlin), Jackson Whittemore (Colton Haynes) and many more to fight a monstrous demon who wants to destroy all the supernatural beings in Beacon Hills once and for all. This means that all creatures, whether they are werewolves, banshees, hellhounds, fox spirits, or other types of creatures in this series, unite once again to save the people they love.
Clocking in at two hours and twenty minutes, Teen Wolf: The Movie isn’t even close to feeling as epic as a run time would suggest. The most significant change between the series and the film is the increased profanity and casual nudity shown. Like many shows that transition from basic cable or network broadcasts to streaming platforms, Teen Wolf: The Movie uses f-bombs, butt-shots and sideboob as a cheap alternative to actual mature storytelling. While the characters are a decade out of high school, Teen Wolf: The Movie plays like an extended series episode, which means way too many bloated scenes of exposition sandwiched between action sequences that are framed carefully enough to hide the stuntmen’s faces. The overly choreographed fights lose any sense of intensity and are quickly wrapped up to move on to another scene that tries to explain what’s coming next. The stakes never feel tangible, which may also be because the villain never seemed like much of a threat.
Written by creator Jeff Davis, Teen Wolf: The Movie is complete fan service in every way. By bringing back Crystal Reed and reuniting Allison with Scott, fans finally get a moment they’ve been waiting for for years. But not everyone is safe in this story, which means some characters may not survive the endgame. At the same time, the absence of the aforementioned Dylan O’Brien is never addressed, which feels odd. Overall, this entire movie feels like it was written as a three-episode limited series crammed into a feature film without regard for the change in structure a movie requires over the course of a show. Many characters are extraneous to the main plot, either feeling stuffed in to check a box or unnecessary elements removed from the original script. In both cases, Teen Wolf: The Movie is overstuffed with material and doesn’t really do the cast justice.
Teen Wolf: The Movie is a movie in name only. Without a satisfactory conclusion and the door is left open for more Teen Wolf movie in the future, this feels like a project that could have worked better as a limited revival rather than an overly long extended episode. That being said, the clock ticks on one hundred and forty minutes, Teen Wolf: The Movie requires an investment that only the most die-hard fans will be willing to make. While I’m sure they’ll be emotionally shaken by some of what happens in this story, the underwhelming ending doesn’t really provide much of a conclusion and instead feels incomplete. Teen Wolf: The Movie fails to live up to the wait that fans have put in for this story to be told by not taking advantage of what a movie can do when it lifts a TV series.