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«Teen Wolf: A Movie Review»

27 January 2023, Friday
Five years after the Teen Wolf series finale, Scott McCall’s story is revived in Teen Wolf: The Movie. However, this 140-minute installment works much better in series form, and many newcomers may find themselves lost in the lengthy lore. For existing fans of the franchise, this may be a pleasant experience, but it ultimately does little to provide any reason for being.

The script, penned by series creator Jeff Davis, fast-forwards fifteen years to Beacon Hill, the hometown of Teen Wolf. By this point, erstwhile Alpha werewolf Scott (Tyler Posey) has shifted his focus to using his power over animals to help people. The chosen time jump, despite the fact that only a third of the time has passed in real life, is a smart move; Posey, at 31, is too old to pass for a teenager.

Soon enough, the malevolent Nogitsune returns, seeking retribution and leading to an explosive finale where the stakes are high. Unfortunately, the budget for this made-for-TV show is unable to hide the underwhelming monster-on-monster brawl. Additionally, the perplexing resurrection of lost love Allison Argent (Crystal Reed) causes confusion, as she has no recollection of her past and an irrational detestation towards werewolves. It appears that these star-crossed lovers will never find the happy ending they desire.

Russell Mulcahy, the director of 'Teen Wolf: The Movie' which is the same man responsible for the first two Highlander films and 1994's The Shadow, does his best to make the title 'The Movie' stand out in a positive way. Despite his efforts, the movie is limited in its scope.

Posey and Tyler Hoechlin, returning as Scott’s werewolf mentor Derek Hale, both benefit from the opportunity to reprise their characters years later. It's enjoyable to watch Hoechlin build on his experience of playing a super-powered dad on Superman & Lois, doing a similar role in Teen Wolf as he copes with his 15-year-old son, Eli (Vincent Matti), struggling to change into a werewolf like his father. Could this be due to performance anxiety?

It's also great to have many cast members from Teen Wolf come back for more appearances. Linden Ashby is a welcome presence as the enduring Sheriff Stilinski, similar to Seth Gilliam's Dr. Deaton and Holland Roden's Lydia. On the contrary, the return of Reed as Allison appears to be more of an opportunity to satisfy fans more than an essential plot element. Scott experienced his most painful setback with her death, which led to him maturing throughout the series. In theory it could make sense to alter this, yet some aspects remain ambiguous and odd due to the reasons of her resurrection. For example, is she the same age she was 15 years ago? If that's the case, it does not appear correct to just act as if nothing has changed.

The presence of so many familiar faces makes the non-participation of Dylan O’Brien’s character, Stiles, highly noticeable. Though unavoidable, the writers' failure to come up with a plausible way to work around his non-participation affects Teen Wolf detrimentally.

One wonders why Paramount didn't opt for a limited-run revival of Teen Wolf, considering the current trend of such revivals (e.g. Paramount's own Criminal Minds resurrection) as well as the launch of the new (unrelated) show Wolf Pack, created by Davis on Paramount+, on the same day.

It certainly appears there were enough story threads here that allowing them to progress over multiple weeks in an episodic format would have been preferable to skipping through so much of the plot in such a disorganized way, while still broadly suggesting where things could go next. With a ready-made Teen Wolf successor ready in Eli, the future of the franchise could easily shift, but it may be time to let the full moon finally set.

It's pleasant to see Scott McCall and his pack once more, without a doubt. Although long-term fans will likely be pleased to spend time with their dearest characters on a further journey, Teen Wolf: The Movie doesn't provide enough to make the series finale redundant as an ideal stopping point for this story. Furthermore, it is too complicated and hard to comprehend for anyone who hasn't already invested a lot of energy into exploring the nocturnal life in Beacon Hills. Despite the dedicated performances given by various returning cast members, it does not warrant its presence as anything else but an exploitative experiment by Paramount+ to capitalize on the audience nostalgia for familiar faces.
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