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Teen discovers that puberty for him means he turns into a werewolf. One of the beneficial side effects is that it also turns him into a top-notch basketball player. But will his notoriety cost him his friends and can he find true love?
For more about Teen Wolf and the Teen Wolf Blu-ray release, see Teen Wolf Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on April 3, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: Michael J. Fox, James Hampton, Scott Paulin, Susan Ursitti, Jerry Levine, Lorie Griffin
Director: Rod Daniel
» See full cast & crew
Teen Wolf Blu-ray Review
A 1980s fan-favorite gets plopped onto Blu-ray with highly mediocre results.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, April 3, 2011
With a great power goes a greater responsibility.
Teen Wolf is a pretty straightforward movie about a teenager named Scott (Michael J. Fox, Casualties of War) who learns the hard way that it doesn't always take a radical transformation to succeed in life. Such a simple theme is explored through the stark contrast between the nobody basketball player and the star he becomes when a peculiar family trait -- that sometimes skips a generation but not in this case -- grabs hold of him and alters everything he understands about life, love, basketball, and himself. When it becomes clear that the "new and improved" Scott is only skin -- or is it fur -- deep, inner turmoil and an outer revolt push him back towards "normal," but then again for Scott "normal" is his natural transformation, so the question the film really seems to ask is: is it more important to conform to the norms of society or be oneself, no matter how different that may be from society at large? Teen Wolf seems to espouse mixed messages, but even so it's still a fun little slice of diversionary cinema that's spunky, well-acted, and enjoyable from start to finish.
Scott (Fox) is just another nobody on the Beavers basketball team. He might be first string, but when the team is losing games by scores of 71-12, that's just not saying much. Scott isn't very popular around school, either. He's friends with the gregarious Stiles (Jerry Levine) and his gal pal Boof (Susan Ursitti) who wants more than just a "friends only" relationship with Scott. One day, Scott notices a few changes to his body. A long growth of hair and improved hearing come surprisingly but are not something over which Scott loses much sleep. It's only when he finally undergoes a more thorough transformation -- instantly growing long nails, pointed ears, and a thick coating of fur, just like a werewolf -- that he realizes there's something terribly wrong. As luck would have it, Scott undergoes another complete transformation on the basketball court, surprising his teammates and opponents alike with his sudden new look and himself with his new skills on the court. Suddenly, the Beavers have become an unstoppable one-man show on the basketball court and Scott's new "Teen Wolf" look has instantly transformed him into the coolest guy at school. Can the Beavers ride the wave all the way to the championship game, or will Scott and his newfound fame come crashing down and maybe even teach him important lessons on self-worth and teamwork?
Teen Wolf works as well as it does for two reasons: its originality and its cast. The picture turns the old standby "nobody high schooler becomes somebody" routine on its head by having the "nobody" lead character transform into a "somebody" that instantly changes him not only from zero to hero, but gives him a swagger, confidence, and skill on the basketball floor that was otherwise absent when Scott was just "Scott," not the hero Teen Wolf, star basketball player, merchandise seller, and lady's man-wolf. The film takes something as otherwise deadly and mythically dangerous as a werewolf and turns it into a completely benign character that's only dangerous on the basketball court, and the only things to worry about when the wolf comes out to play is how many points it will score, how much merchandise it can sell, and how many girls will fawn over it. That the film completely ignores most werewolf legend is surprisingly not at all a harm to the end product; Director Rod Daniel (K9) manages to make his audience believe that the transformation is, for Scott, anyway, one that's inherently good for him, just different and just not immediately evident as to how the transformation will really impact his life. Daniel gives the film an infectious energy, and while the playful attitude dominates, it doesn't necessarily interfere with the film's messages on individuality, self-confidence, and teamwork, no matter how mixed they may structurally be. Michael J. Fox is excellent in the part, too; his reaction to the transformation and the sudden influx of confidence and skill it brings him is, like the movie at large, not given much of a second thought after the initial shock, but it all works because Teen Wolf is content to merely have fun with the idea and only pay cursory attention to anything that might interfere with the playful attitude.
What's really interesting about Teen Wolf is how nonchalantly everyone takes the transformation. A few "wows!" after everybody stops to stare at Scott after his first public transformation is about all there is to it. Scott is accepted in his werewolf state about the same way students might accept one of their peers who shows up to school with a radically different haircut or a new style of clothes. The movie completely lacks realism in that regard, but the way the characters shrug off the physical transformation and accept the increased skill on the court and Scott's new and improved hip style only seems to, on one hand, reinforce one of the film's themes that it's what is on the inside that counts, that Scott's fur, fangs, nails, and ears are only skin-deep. The physical transformation only seems to really bother Scott, at least at first. Everyone else takes it in stride, but they come to see him in his werewolf state as an entity rather than an individual, an entity that can score points and sell T-shirts. That he is still "Scott" underneath the fur is sometimes lost on his peers -- and on himself -- because "Scott" is, naturally, a werewolf; the transformation is every bit a part of his genes as his hair color and his height. It's that acceptance of someone -- the true someone -- that's one of the film's main themes. Whether that plays as a bit mixed or even, ultimately, hypocritical is up to each individual viewer, but Teen Wolf, as noted above, more or less glosses over its more thought-provoking Jekyll & Hyde dual-personas angle in favor of a more baseline entertaining feel. It's a little frustrating that the ultimate message of "be yourself" comes at the expense of a part of Scott that naturally is, but Teen Wolf wasn't made to be the last word on the subject, just an entertaining diversion that plays in the shallow end of a much deeper pool for thought.
Teen Wolf Blu-ray, Video Quality
Teen Wolf morphs onto Blu-ray with a passable but hardly top-notch 1080p transfer. On the plus side, the image retains a layer of natural film grain and features a fair bit of solid detailing all around, whether in clothes and skin textures or as seen in the many secondary background elements such as locker room lockers or even the fine textures on basketball hoop netting. Colors are sturdy and accurate, particularly evident on Stiles's many outrageous mix-and-match outfits and the Beavers's bright yellow uniforms. On the other hand, the image can sometimes appear soft and hazy, not to mention littered with a large number of black splotches, white speckles, random vertical lines, several jagged edges, and a few slight halos. It's certainly a low-effort release but it's still watchable and a step up from DVD in terms of clarity and stability on larger screens thanks to the 1080p resolution.
Teen Wolf Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Teen Wolf's paltry DTS-HD MA two-channel track is woefully dull and uninspired. This is a puny track with no vigor and no life, one that's the very definition of "just doing enough to get by." Dialogue is clear and always intelligible, but that's about where the good part of the review ends. There's absolutely no sense of space even in the basketball segments, whether the court is so quiet that heartbeats and the reverberations of each dribble are all that's to be heard, or when the stands are packed with rowdy fans. Music is generally crunchy and unbalanced, but the track does find a slight bit of energy -- though still not much clarity -- for a couple of songs, namely "Surfin' USA" and with a tune that plays during a school dance sequence in chapter 14. This is a very generalized, uninteresting listen; as noted it gets the job done, but listeners expecting anything more than a very basic nuts-and-bolts sort of track will be highly disappointed, because this one can't even muster up much effort for even the little bit it has to work with.
Teen Wolf Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Only the Teen Wolf theatrical trailer (1080p, 1:50) and a sneak peak of "Teen Wolf -- The TV Series" (1080p, 2:42) are included.
Teen Wolf Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Teen Wolf might never really get a firm grasp on what, exactly, it's trying to say, but in this case that's not a fatal, or even all that harmful, flaw. It's frustrating at worst, but for the viewer who just wants to watch the movie and take what it has to offer at face value, it's not a bad little endeavor. A cleverly unique story that puts a new spin on an old legend, a great cast, and solid direction make Teen Wolf a feel-good 1980s favorite. MGM's Blu-ray release, however, isn't up to the standards the movie demands. A mediocre 1080p transfer, a lesser lossless soundtrack, and no extras of substance are all factors that will certainly make potential buyers stop and think twice about a purchase, even at a bargain price. There's no incentive for DVD owners to upgrade, but longtime fans of Teen Wolf who never got around to buying the DVD or newcomers to this 1980s favorite may as well go ahead and pick it up considering that a remastered edition will probably never see the light of day on Blu-ray.
Teen Wolf: Other Editions
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