Starring Lucas Till, Stephen McHattie, John Pyper-Ferguson, Merritt Patterson, Jason Momoa
Written and directed by David Hayter
Distributed by Lionsgate
I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for werewolves. I do so love those bestial creatures of the Earth. Their savage, brutal, physical mentality; the headstrong way about them… what’s not to love? So, upon discovering this newest entry in the werewolf canon, with Jason Momoa brilliantly cast as a werewolf, I just had to take a look.
Let’s start off by saying that Wolves is not going to get a lot of points for originality, but it does score in other areas. It’s the story of teenager Cayden Richards, who finds out that the explanation for all the weird things that have happened to him throughout his life is the fact that he is indeed a lycanthrope. And, thankfully, Wolves gets to this point right away. We don’t have to go through the obligatory confrontation between wolf and man in the woods that leads to a bite and an eventual turning. Our man Cayden is already a werewolf when we meet him, and he discovers the issue almost immediately at the beginning of the movie. Points scored there, writer/director David Hayter!
Cayden quickly finds himself on the run from society for some misguided actions brought about by his wolfy side, and after a strange meeting with an even stranger co-werewolf in a bar one night, he heads to a town called Lupine Ridge to get to the bottom of his affliction. Which forces us to ask one question: When we’re watching a werewolf movie/TV show, why do the creators always feel the need to use some cutesy wolfen play on words. Here we have Lupine Ridge, “True Blood” had Lou Pine’s Bar, Harry Potter had Remus Lupin…
Look, to future werewolf story writers, you’re not going to slip one by us with a play on words like this. It’s not like you’re going to call a place Lupine Ridge and then have it be full of werewolves and at the end we slap our foreheads and go, “Oh man, how did I miss that one?!” I hereby call for an end of wolfen wordplay.
But I digress… it is in Lupine Ridge where Cayden runs afoul of local tough guy Connor. I know, the name didn’t sound that tough to me either so it’s fortunate that the folks behind Wolves were on the ball enough to cast Jason Momoa in the role. The 6’4″ actor may be the most perfect person walking the Earth to play a werewolf. Best known, of course, as a “Stargate: Atlantis” alum and more recently for his outstanding portrayal of the brutal Khal Drogo in the first season of “Game of Thrones,” the casting was perfect, and Momoa plays an awesome heavy although they did make him a bit cheesy in his human form with a pair of black-ringed irises in his eyes. Certainly, the tricked-out contact lenses he wore for the part were supposed to make him look menacing all the time, but honestly, Momoa can do that on his own. Perhaps it would have been better to keep Connor’s human form more human and let Momoa’s physical presence do its thing.
Anyway, from here the tale develops into a bit of a pack war, nothing really that new as far as story is concerned, but Wolves does bring its share of entertainment to the table. Lucas Till is every engaging as Cayden, and as mentioned above, Momoa was born to play a wolf. In addition to these two, Wolves brings you a colorful cast of co-stars that make you care about the story. Cayden’s love interest, Angelina, is played by the lovely Merritt Patterson, and a couple of surly older salty dogs, John Tollerman and Wild Joe (played by veteran actors Stephen McHattie and John Pyper-Ferguson, respectively), help bring some real flavor to the film.
So, yes, Wolves is kind of entertaining in its own way. Cool characters help to alleviate the problem of a story we’ve mostly seen before. The werewolves themselves, although pretty cool when you first see them, take on almost a cartoonish feel as more and more characters start to turn. Each werewolf seems to retain some feature of its human form (mostly hairdos, and in Connor’s case his vest makes the transition quite nicely), and they become almost a hairy caricature of the human form. But again, that being said, Wolves kind of makes you forget about any silliness with some great action and killer fight scenes.
The DVD special features are basically non-existent, containing only a trailer for the movie. It would have been nice to see some of the make-up processes, at least.
Wolves is simple. It’s pretty predictable, but goddamn, it is fun. There’s a lot of stuff wrong with this movie, but every time you go to criticize it, it diverts your attention with a wicked fight scene or some aggressive werewolf sex. I was more impressed than I thought I would be and have to say Wolves is a pretty good time at the movies. Far from perfect, but never boring, you could do a lot worse than Wolves.