Reviewed by Alicia Glass
Studio: Columbia Pictures
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Mike Nichols
Review Rating: 8
Aging publisher Will Randall uses the werewolf curse to take back control of his life.
This is truly an amazing movie, one of the finest pieces of werewolf lore I’ve ever had the great fortune to come across. It has everything – the one liners, the full werewolf transformation, the keen razor-edged senses, a love interest in the form of Michelle freaking Pfieffer, even a climactic battle with would-be Alpha Stewart. It seems highly unlikely that Randall would have this happen to him, being bitten while out on some New England road returning from a conference, but the movie doesn’t concentrate on that. Instead, everything starts off with the bite and then we get to be subject to just how Randall is mistreated by everyone around him, and how clearly that gets turned around when the Wolf begins to change him. Randall’s wife is cheating on him, literally sleeping with the enemy. Randall’s boss Raymond Alden considers him expendable, and basically offers Randall the choice of, “no job, or a job nobody wants” at a big party held at Alden’s house. Something good does come of it though – Randall meets Laura Alden, his boss’ daughter, whom the movie seems to fate to be his eventual mate. And then there’s Randall’s protégé, Stewart Swinton. Stewart wants Randall’s everything – his job, his woman, even his life at the end of the movie. It’s incredibly gratifying to see that little prick get his just desserts. Who says the new would-be Alpha always runs down the current Alpha with the scars on his hide? This adaptation of the Werewolf curse clearly demonstrates this.
For the film itself, a lot of the movie is shot in beautiful slow takes, with dark colors and shadows and light used to maximum gothic transformation effect. The fact that the setting is completely modern, but there’s no vampires or other Supes (that’s Supernaturals for you not-so-geeks), the world doesn’t need to be saved or anything, it’s just Randall and his world, was a brilliant choice for the movie. Somewhere in the background, when the wolf out in the wilderness bites Randall, or when Alden decides to join him, one can almost imagine the presence of the spirit Wolf simply deciding that if anyone needed this, if anyone deserved it, it was Randall. It may not be epic as far as the world is concerned, no crossing dimensions or lasting consequences for all the supernatural races, but it is epic enough to rock the boring tense little world of Will Randall. And maybe a few ripples to those around him, especially the ones who deserve it, too.
Then there’s the amazing selection of a cast. In the lead role as Will Randall, we have Jack Nicholson himself, a man of many and varied acting talents, he gives the transformation from restrained to joyous Wolf his own awesome stamp of insanity. James Spader is Stewart Swinton, and his own brand of odd, so obvious in other movies he’s done, comes across beautifully. Michelle Pfieffer has always had intense eyes and ways, this movie brings it across in a whole new light. I wouldn’t have figured her for a werewolf, but yes it does work. The entire movie works, qualifying highly for the werewolf movie community and far too often overlooked!