Entries Tagged 'werewolves' ↓

Wolves



I wish there was a way to send a print of David Hayter’s Wolves back to the 80s. It would fit right in with stuff like Fright Night, Lost Boys and Teen Wolf. Not as endearing as those movies, but the throwback feel is pretty strong. Alas, Amazon hasn't invented time travel shipping (yet), so I’ll have to judge it as a 21st century creation.

Underneath all the fangs and hair, Wolves is your basic coming of age story. A teen discovers that he’s not like the other kids, so after some violent episodes, he sets out on a journey to find himself. Instead of running into Professor X and his School for Gifted Youngsters, Cayden (Lucas Till) winds up in the quaint town of Lupine Ridge. (Get it?) It’s not long before hijinks ensue...



The usual characters archetypes are front and center: The Wise Sage (Stephen McHattie), The Love Interest (Merritt Patterson), and The Antagonist (Jason “Aquaman” Momoa).

As much as I like the spirit of these genre mashups, I have to admit, they’re hit or (mostly) miss with audiences. It gets even worse when werewolves are the main attraction.

Jeff Goldsmith's Q&A podcast has a really good interview with Hayter here.

As the writer of X-Men, X2, and Watchmen, Hayter obviously knows his way around action-oriented stories about people with special abilities. Clearly, Wolves was originally envisioned as a bigger story but was scaled back because of budgetary constraints.  The movie does a great job with the werewolf design -- kind of looks like Beast from the X-Men movies. It even has some clever cheats to explain why everyone doesn’t turn into a werewolf, too damn expensive otherwise.

Good cast, good creature design, so what’s the problem? Wolves is an $18-20 million dollar movie and at the end of the day, this:



Is going to have a hard time trying to compete with this:


(I couldn't find a good clip from X-Men or X2.)

A low budget movie like Wolves needed to focus more on character development, suspense, and horror to make up for the lack of spectacle. There's nothing remarkable or especially different about this take on the werewolf genre. Aside from a few twists, it all feels very, very familiar. Those 80s movies I mentioned had other things going for them.

I'm still holding out hope that we'll see a wildly successful werewolf movie at the box office... eventually. It's been rough for a while now. I have little faith in Universal's plan to relaunch their iconic horror monsters by focusing on action/adventure rather than horror -- I'll get into Dracula Untold later.

One final complaint: the title. Could it be any more generic?

FINAL GRADE: C





Sunday Shorts: WEREWOLVES



Hadn't planned on showcasing back to back werewolf shorts but since I'm going to be blogging about some recent feature length films (Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf, Wolves), it seemed appropriate. The comedy is also a nice change of pace from the other stuff I've posted.





Sunday Shorts: WEREWOLVES



Hadn't planned on showcasing back to back werewolf shorts but since I'm going to be blogging about some recent feature length films (Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf, Wolves), it seemed appropriate. The comedy is also a nice change of pace from the other stuff I've posted.





Sunday Shorts: WEREWOLVES



Hadn't planned on showcasing back to back werewolf shorts but since I'm going to be blogging about some recent feature length films (Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf, Wolves), it seemed appropriate. The comedy is also a nice change of pace from the other stuff I've posted.





Sunday Shorts: WEREWOLVES



Hadn't planned on showcasing back to back werewolf shorts but since I'm going to be blogging about some recent feature length films (Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf, Wolves), it seemed appropriate. The comedy is also a nice change of pace from the other stuff I've posted.





The Wolfman


I'm of two minds when it comes to The Wolfman.

First Mind says:

The Wolfman's a classic movie monster, but there's only so much you can do with him. He doesn't have a lot going on in the charisma department, lacks basic fashion sense and his table manners are atrocious. Unless you're willing to reboot the nature of the monster, it's an almost impossible sell to the casual (Twilight-friendly) moviegoer. Face it. Werewolves are always going to play second fiddle to their cousins of the night, vampires. Just do the best you can with the material. Give the hardcore fans what they want: cool transformations, great locations, gory attacks and a few well-placed nods to the original. For the most part, that's what you get here. I can certainly think of worse ways to spend two hours -- like staring at a blank screen, but that's for another day...

Second Mind rebuttal:

Holy crap, Universal! What the heck were you guys smoking? $100 + million on a genre picture with such limited appeal!? And R-rated at that!? This film is a tower of fail built upon fail. All those signs of red flags during production turned out to be true. Blunt and Del Toro have zero chemistry, but that's okay because the story is mostly about working out Mommy and Daddy issues. And speaking of Daddy, Anthony Hopkins phones in his entire performance. It's as if someone found an old copy of Ang Lee's Hulk script lying around and decided to do some creative Find and Replace. The big Third Act reveal should be a surprise to no one. Hugo Weaving was the most interesting character in it all. Pity the story wasn't told more from his perspective.

Wolvesbayne



You wouldn't believe how many hits my blog gets from the Wolvesbayne trailer that I posted back in May. Who knew it had such a following? Anyway, I checked out last night's premiere on SyFy.... kind of what I expected... a man -- last name Bayne, get it? --- is attacked by a werewolf and gets caught up in a long running feud between humans and vampires.

It's basically a mishmash of various action/horror movie plots: Underworld, Underworld: Evolution, Queen of the Damned, etc. Jeremy London is fine as the reluctant monster/hero, while Yancy Butler and Mark Dacascos chew up scenery like nobody's business as evil vamps. The opening is actually pretty decent. We get a brief shot of a full fledged werewolf in attack mode -- don't remember another one. The main problem with most werewolf flicks, especially the low budget variety, is the lack of a decent looking creature. All you need is some fangs and maybe a pair of funky contacts to be a vampire. It's no surprise that the vamps get the majority of screen time. In Wolvesbayne, we have to settle for kinda-werewolf-like-if-you-squint-real-hard.

I thought the plot was a little too complicated for its own good, and the story was too ambitious for the limited budget. Based on the ending, someone is obviously trying to start a little direct to video franchise. Not the best low budget werewolf flick, that prize goes to Dog Soldiers or Ginger Snaps, but more interesting than stuff like Big Bad Wolf and Warwolves.

Rise of the Lycans



Not as good as the first, but a better attempt at storytelling than “Evolution” -- which was basically a vapid chase flick. I guess the logic here is that if you’ve seen the first two, you might as well watch this totally unnecessary prequel. The action is fine and Rhona Mitra is a decent stand-in for Beckinsale. Not a lot big set pieces to be found. Looks like they scaled back the budget.

Sadly, the film can’t escape its most obvious flaw: we already know what’s going to happen. There are no surprises here. You’d expect more character development. Would’ve been nice to see some new characters in the mix. Maybe a wrinkle in how Lucien and Sonja got together. Doesn’t happen.

Drama has always taken a back seat to action and special effects in the “Underworld” films -- hardcore fans certainly don’t mind. Is it a bad thing to give audiences what they want? No, but I don’t think audiences always know what they want. People connect to stories on an emotional level. Don’t pay any attention to the stuff they say about clichés and plot holes. Every single film has them. What they’re really saying when they talk about disliking a film -- generally, not the obvious stinkers -- is that they didn’t connect with the actors, characters, situations, etc. If they’re emotionally invested, they’ll overlook plenty. “Paul Blart“, “Madea” and “Taken“ anyone?

The mistake some writers make is to try and out-funny, out-scare and out-action what we see onscreen, but the true task is giving it meaning.

Lycans was pretty much paint-by-numbers for me. There was plenty of stuff to work with on an emotional level, but they dropped the ball.

UW: Rise of the Lycans


Fast fact: “Skinwalkers”, Rhona Mitra’s last werewolf flick, only grossed around 1 million in theaters (limited release), but made close to 25 million on DVD.

Solid showing over the weekend. Guess the lack of Kate Beckinsale wasn’t that big of a deal to audiences -- these films are driven by werewolf/vampire action, plain and simple. I wonder where the franchise will go from here: graphic novel, straight to DVD movies, anime, a TV series?

It's good to see that the action/horror genre is still alive and kicking.

Rise of the Lycans

I think I'm starting to suffer from "Underworld" fatigue, because the new trailer isn't doing a whole lot for me. Still, from spec script to full blown trilogy is quite the accomplishment.

Underworld 3: Rise of the Lycans



Rhona Mitra looks pretty badass in her armor, but can “Underworld 3” really deliver the goods? Think about it. They’re taking out a lot of the things that worked in the first two films: the modern setting, hybrids, gunplay, Kate Beckinsale in latex, etc. and replacing them with what looks like a costume drama. Obviously there’s going to be action, but the budget will limit what they can do. I suspect we’ll see the occasional skirmish but no bloodbaths on the battlefield. And we already know how Sonja and Lucian's relationship will turn out. I'm not seeing the audience grabber...

Never Cry Werewolf


If only I had seen the cheap one-sheet beforehand -- doesn’t the beast look like a giant rat with roid rage? This is basically a rip-off of the classic 80s film, “Fright Night” -- my next door neighbor is a vampire and nobody believes me -- just substitute vampire with werewolf and take away all the charm. Fell asleep way before Kevin Sorbo showed up, but it’s hard to believe that he would have been able to turn this one around. I’m swearing off b-werewolf flicks for a while.

And since we're on the subject of werewolves... still banging away at my own spec. How does that old Paula Abdul song go -- the one with the rapping, cartoon cat? Two steps forward, two steps back? I've really come to despise the rewrite process. Babies have been concieved, born and are now walking/talking since I started the first draft... geez!

Bad Moon


Looks like “The Wolf Man” remake dodged a silver bullet. After Mark Romanek left the project, there was talk that he’d be replaced by Brett Ratner, which sent many a fanboy up in arms. Universal just hasn't been able to capture the spirit of their classic monster movies. Anyway, it turns out the Rat man won’t be directing but Joe “The Rocketeer” Johnston. Interesting choice. I would’ve gone with Guillermo Del Toro or Francis Lawrence.
On my own personal werewolf front, I’m probably gonna dive in the screenwriting contest pool again. I still think that contests are a disadvantage for folks with genre scripts but without a deadline, I’m too inclined to drag my feet on this one.

Heads You Die … Tails I Kill You!

Horror Roundtable newcomer Matt Maxwell is releasing his first original graphic novel, entitled Strangeways: Murder Moon. It’s 144 pages of Werewolves in the Old West, and you can preview the first chapter right here, if only to verify that the illustration accompanying this post has nothing to with Maxwell’s comic. I’ll take any [...]

Skinwalkers DVD


“Skinwalkers” isn’t what we’ve been lead to believe. It’s actually a modern western that involves Native American mysticism and a bit of Japanese numerology -- no, wait! It’s a classic character-driven horror movie -- better yet, a child-in-peril supernatural thriller with twists and turns around every corner, leading to a werewolf vs. werewolf smackdown in Act III! The answer is: all of the above.
Captain Obvious moment: bigger doesn’t always equal better. A straightforward story can go a long way. Starting off with a pancake flat opening, “Skinwalkers” is full of needless scenes, unnecessary twists and sketchy action sequences. Even Rhona Mitra can’t save this one.
Most of us grew up watching memorable cinematic moments like, “Luke, I am your father” and “I see dead people”, so the desire to emulate that brand of shock and awe storytelling is understandable but it’s not always necessary. They tried to shoehorn a twist that hurt the narrative -- made no sense. Werewolf movies have been in a slump for a while and hiding the creatures (which look pretty decent) in the theatrical trailer was a big mistake. I don’t have a problem with the PG-13 rating, but if you’re going to take out the gore and violence, you need to replace them with something else. Better action scenes, cool transformations, whatever. Poke around on the DVD (which includes commentary by director Jim Isaac) and you’ll find an Easter egg featuring Stan Winston at Comic-Con discussing how he became involved with the project.