Teen Wolf: The Movie
Scott McCall most reunite his pack and return to Beacon Hills as old allies and lost friends make their return.
Spoiler Level: Mild. A Spoiler Section is identified beforehand.
I can’t start this review without acknowledging the controversy already surrounding it. Shortly after the first announcement of characters and actors slated to return, Deadline reported that Arden Cho would not be returning to play the character of Kira Yukimura for the movie due to being offered significantly less than the other actors. Arden Cho later confirmed this in an interview with The Cut. It is important to note that Cho’s character Kira was not only the sole woman of color to be a main character but the only character whose culture was directly tied to the plot. Her identity as a kitsune was crucial to the plot of season 3B- the villain of which, the Nogitsune, makes his return for the movie.
Disclaimer: Teen Wolf is one of my favorite shows. It’s a comfort watch that I still rewatch to this day, having just finished a rewatch before the end of the new year specifically to get ready for the movie. The characters, both main and reoccurring, and how their relationships and dynamics play against each other drove the plot has always been what makes the show stand out to me. That said the fact that those dynamics are mostly missing from the movie is going to color my review.
The story has two focuses, much like the show did. The first focus is our protagonist Scott McCall (Tyler Posey) who learns that something is wrong with his dead ex-girlfriend Alison Argent (Crystal Reed). To save her, he needs to reunite with friends and return to Beacon Hills. The second focus lies back in Beacon Hills where former Alpha Derek Hale (Tyler Hoechlin) faces challenges raising his son Eli (Vince Mattis), a werewolf who can’t transform. The movie handles these two plots well. The interactions between Scott/Alison and Derek/Eli provide peeks into the strengths of Teen Wolf. The movie’s cast however is far larger and the movie seems to teeter on the ledge of determining if they are actually main characters or glorified cameos for most of the movie.
The police force, consisting of returning characters Sherriff Stilinski (Linden Ashby) and deputies Jordan Parrish (Ryan Kelley), and Mason Hewitt (Khylin Rhambo), are investigating arson cases around beacon hills. Were-Coyote Malia Tate (Shelley Hennig) gets called in to help Scott, who despite being a main character in the last three seasons of the show and being Scott’s last love interest, we have no insight into her life other than she who she’s been sleeping with. Scott’s beta wolf Liam Dunbar (Dylan Sprayberry) and his girlfriend Hikari Zhang (Amy Lin Workman) actually start the movie in Japan and then vanish for half the movie. Lydia Martin (Holland Roden) is running an energy corporation when her Banshee powers dictate a return to Beacon Hills, and she brings her friend Jackson Whittemore (Colton Haynes) along for the ride. Also reprising their roles are Scott’s mother Melissa McCall (Melissa Ponzio), Alison’s father Chris Argent (JR Bourne), Scott’s former boss Alan Deaton (Seth Gilliam), Derek’s uncle Peter Hale (Ian Bourne), and the iconic lacrosse coach played by Orny Adams.
In a television series this large a cast can be an asset, in a 140-minute movie that is determined to focus on four specific characters, it is a hindrance. While some characters slot into their former roles and work with limited screen time- Coach provides comedic relief, Deaton serves as a source of knowledge, and Mama McCall disperses motherly advice. Most of the characters spend their time getting sent off-screen for reasons so insignificant that they don’t even do it.
The bloated cast also affects the pacing. It jumps around to each group which doesn’t allow much of a baseline to be set for anyone but Eli and Derek. Tension doesn’t build. The beginning of the movie relies on suspenseful music, weighted pauses in dialogue, and the faith the audience has watched at least the first three seasons of the source material to show when something is important. Though the middle of the movie evens out as Scott and Alison are given the focus and the remaining cast is narrowed down, the ending is faced with forced interruptions as the movie decides to pay homage to the show.
The movie is riddled with plot holes. A group of teenagers not communicating with adults can be understandable, but when everyone is in their thirties and a text message could have solved most of the problems it isn’t as easy to overlook. The lore and continuity of the movie with the show are confusing at best, which can be excused if it didn’t rely so heavily on the viewer having previously watched the show. Plot holes and continuity errors are not new to the Teen Wolf Universe, but without the distraction of engaging characters, their presence is glaring.
What the movie does well it does really well. Eli as a new character is a fresh addition. As a “Teen Wolf,” it would have been easy for his story to blend with that of Scott or Liam, but instead, he is faced with unique struggles as a born wolf and as Derek’s son. For fans of the Scott and Alison relationship, the movie serves as a well-delivered epilogue to their story and portrays their relationship better than even most of its time on the show. The action is enjoyable, though it lacks the acrobatic nature fans loved or hated. The acting performed by the cast is reminiscent of the show, with the actors portrayals being the most consistent tie to the original show. Colton Haynes’s return to the role of Jackson is done perfectly. All of the sass and sarcastic but without the douche behavior the character had as a teen.
The movie mostly ignores the missing characters, an easy task for most due to most characters not having significant dialogue to address why people they were close to at season’s end are missing, or even acknowledge people who they are close who are in the movie (140 minutes and not a single word spoken between Liam and Mason, the best friends who were supposed to be the next generation). The only exceptions are a brief line by Jackson in regard to his boyfriend at the end of the series (Ethan played by Max Carver currently seen in the latest season of American Horror Story) and Stiles. An iconic character in the show played by Dylan O’Brien who declined to appear in the movie ended the show as Scott’s best friend and Lydia’s boyfriend. While his existence is an unspoken presence in Lydia and why she doesn’t use her powers, his friendship with Scott is never addressed despite being a staple of the show.
As previously mentioned, Arden Cho is not present in her role of Kira (aside from Stiles the only main character from any of the seasons to do so) and her absence is not mentioned. Which on its own is not noteworthy since they seemed to wipe her character from memory for the final season of the show. However, the show utilizes concepts central to the Nogitsune plot such as “bardo” and the go term “divine move” both of which were introduced to the characters by Kira and her family. The presence of two kitsune in the movie, Hikari and a deputy played by Nobi Nakanishi, also makes her absence more obvious. Hikari’s lack of any significant screen time, characterization, or importance to the plot besides a last-minute deus ex machina that required a kitsune to be present, only makes it worse.
Teen Wolf: The Movie relies heavily on nostalgia for the plot to make sense but doesn't give the majority of the characters an opportunity to show why people should be nostalgic. While it has parts that seem a love letter to a specific character relationship and others that could serve as a launching point for the future, the storytelling fails to pull all the threads together.
Teen Wolf: The Movie- A Forced Epilogue
- Writing - 5/105/10
- Storyline - 6/106/10
- Acting - 8/108/10
- Music - 6.5/106.5/10
- Production - 7.5/107.5/10
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