Home » ‘Teen Wolf: The Movie’ Review – The Wolf Pack is Back, and It’s Messy

‘Teen Wolf: The Movie’ Review – The Wolf Pack is Back, and It’s Messy

by A. Felicia Wade
Tyler Pose returns as Scott McCall the Alpha wolf showing off his huge fangs in battle in TEEN WOLF: THE MOVIE on Paramount+.

In the days when TV shows about the supernatural reigned supreme, i.e. The Vampire Diaries, Grimm, and Supernatural, along came a darker take on the Michael J. Fox classic Teen Wolf. The show of the same title premiered on MTV in 2011 and starred Tyler Posey as lacrosse player turned werewolf Scott McCall. MTV’s Teen Wolf gained quite the following due to its loveable cast and remains one of the few popular scripted drama series for the network. Now, after coming to an end in 2017 with 100 episodes under its belt, the franchise is back in the form of a continuation film simply titled Teen Wolf: The Movie on Paramount+, which is also set to kick off the sequel series Wolf Pack led by Sarah Michelle Gellar. Like all things in the streaming age, nothing truly stays dead for long.

Die-hard fans, however, have been stirring up talks for a movie for years. Tyler Posey himself has even generated online buzz with his desire to return to the role. Showrunner and creator Jeff Davis has always wanted to return to Beacon Hills as well since he left the original show open-ended with Scott and his pack continuing on their fight. Davis is finally getting his wish by serving as the writer of Teen Wolf: The Movie with series director Russell Mulcahy at the helm. So this Paramount+ exclusive could be in no better hands, right? Well, in hoping to bank on all the nostalgia, Teen Wolf: The Movie works in some ways and yet the magic of the series has gotten lost somewhere. Whereas some fans will be excited to return to Beacon Hills for one big wolf pack reunion, others will guess again.

Taking place years later, Teen Wolf: The Movie finds everyone separated and living their respective adult lives away from Beacon Hills. Beta wolf Liam (Dylan Sprayberry) and newcomer Hikari (Amy Lin Workman) are in Japan protecting an important object until a terrifying evil steals it. We find Scott, still the Alpha, in Los Angeles working at an Animal Shelter next to dear friend Dr. Deaton (Seth Gilliam). Chris Argent (JR Bourne) visits Scott to reveal he’s been having visions of his previously deceased daughter Allison (Crystal Reed). Scott has also been experiencing these visions and calls for a re-grouping of banshees, hellhounds, werecoyotes, and kitsunes in Beacon Hills. We get a glimpse of banshee Lydia (Holland Roden) in a very much girl boss setting who ends up sharing these visions too. She brings along the funny Jackson (Colton Haynes), who’s barely given anything to do.  

Seeing everyone scattered doesn’t feel right when the series ended with the solidified group working together. There are a few narrative choices that seem to retcon what was previously established for the sake of the film’s plot, leaving lots of questions unanswered. Why are Scott and Malia not together? Where’s Kira? How did Derek (Tyler Hoechlin) end up with a teenage son named Eli (Vince Mattis) back in Beacon Hills? More returning Teen Wolf cast include Malia Tate (Shelly Hennig), Sheriff Stilinski (Linden Ashby), Melissa McCall (Melissa Ponzio), Peter Hale (Ian Bohen), Jordan Parrish (Ryan Kelley), and Mason Hewitt (Khylin Rhambo). Not surprisingly, there are also returning monsters like the Nogitsune, who are threatening to destroy everything Scott loves, and the Oni, who are here to do the new evil’s bidding. Unfortunately, there is not enough time to focus on each character with a jam-packed script and supernatural happenings.

Tyler Pose as Scott McCall fighting an Oni ninja in the middle of a foggy cemetery in TEEN WOLF: THE MOVIE on Paramount+.
Tyler Pose in ‘Teen Wolf: The Movie’ courtesy of Paramount+

With any beloved property returning from the grave, there are loads of expectations. Teen Wolf: The Movie plays out like a long-form Season 7. Towards the end, the over two-hour runtime seems to drag when there are loose ends left over. It has the look and feel of the original series, the moody lighting being prevalent. Yet, most of the shots themselves are uninspired for this being a feature film. For better or worse, this looks just like the show. Though we get little answers on Derek’s son Eli, this B storyline works thanks to Tyler Hoechlin’s standout acting. It’s clear Hoechlin had a blast returning to this world and really gives the newly caring father role his all. Above all else, you’ll find yourself rooting for Eli’s relationship with his dad. Vince Mattis does a great job of providing some comic relief that’s usually left for Stiles Stilinski.

Speaking of Stiles, Dylan O’Brien is sadly not back to reprise his role. His absence is sorely missed, there is no Scott without Stiles. There are moments where you can’t help but hope that he could appear for a well-earned appearance. The reason for his absence in Teen Wolf: The Movie is rushed and such a disservice to the character. Another missing member is Arden Cho as Kira (who chose not to come back due to a pay disparity within the cast). Instead, she’s replaced by a completely new character whose function is basically the same. It’s odd to see Teen Wolf: The Film continue a plotline from Season 3 where both Stiles and Kira were integral and almost totally ignore them, even dancing around having to show the two in flashbacks where they would have been present.

Moving into the Teen Wolf canon, certain things don’t align well with the original timeline here. If fans are in tune with the lore, not everyting runs as smoothly as it should. However, if that’s not a focus then Teen Wolf: The Movie stands fine just on its own. It’s key to know the world before watching, but as for throughlines, it’s better just to sit back and enjoy this sequel film for what it is. The show was at its best with the fun relationships between the wolves and constant run-ins with the supernatural. There are moments where the film shines in its odes to the past and others where it loses its footing for trying to layer on emotional depth. Tyler Posey and Holland Roden are at the heart of this though, and the two find a way to provide some of the best performances of the franchise.

Teen Wolf: The Movie is a nonstop emotional rollercoaster packed with a bite. Despite its flaws, it’s a lot of fun. Not a game-changer by any means and yet there’s something for everyone. Most of the dynamic ensemble still works, the witty banter is back and the way the cast plays off each other fits like before. This is one for the fans, whether they like all of it or not. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Teen Wolf: The Movie premieres on Paramount+ January 26!

Follow writer A. Felicia Wade on Twitter: @becomingfelicia

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