PLOT: Teenager Cayden Richards must flee his town after his parents are savagely murdered, which he's afraid he did in an unconscious state. Finding a village called Pupine Ridge, Richards discovers the truth about his identity: that he's a werewolf.
REVIEW: WOLVES is a toothless dog indeed, silly and predictable and not really made for any one audience in particular. Director David Hayter appears to be setting his sights on the YA crowd, with its dreamy protagonist and familiar mix of supernatural action and teen romance, but it's hard to imagine anyone really getting too worked up over this one: YA audiences will likely be more interested in something based on a book they've read, while horror fans would surely rather watch a flesh-and-blood horror flick. Besides, by now we've seen everything WOLVES has to show us; it's a retread every step of the way.
The focus is Cayden Richards (Lucas Till), who explains in the opening voice-over that he's a high school jock that has it all: great girlfriend, QB of the football team, etc. The only things askew is the knowledge of the whereabouts of his birth parents (he's been raised by a supportive adoptive family) and an unhealthy temper, which early on manifests on the football field in terrifying fashion. (Well, terrifying to the guy who gets his helmet caved in, not to us.) Soon after that incident, Cayden's parents are viciously murdered, presumably by him, and so he's forced to go on the run, ending up in the small hamlet of Lupine Ridge (yup) where he learns he comes from a long line of werewolves. Taken under the wing of a kindly farmer (Steven McHattie) and quickly catching the eye of local honey Angelina (Merritt Patterson), Cayden seems to have found a new place to call home - that is until the town's badboy Connory (Jason Momoa, having more fun than you'd think he'd be) starts pushing him around and making trouble for everyone.
It's boring just rehashing all of that. WOLVES goes through these steps swiftly, as if eager to check everything off its list. Cayden isn't much of an exciting hero, his plight isn't very involving, his romance with the local barmaid quite routine (Angelina is supposed to be shacking up with Connory, hence the latter's severe annoyance with Cayden's presence.) Cayden of course learns the true nature of his lineage, the real villain is unmasked in the film's final sequence and a sequel is hinted at (groan). WOLVES couldn't be more unsurprising if it tried.
The film's lone saving grace, aside from an amusing turn by Momoa, is its sense of humor, which comes in fits and starts but at least indicates Hayter isn't taking this all too seriously. I wouldn't say the the movie is actually funny, but it makes a few attempts to go tongue-in-cheek with all this hairy goofiness. Unfortunately, what's also silly is the look of the werewolves themselves. Thankfully executed with practical effects - we're spared the dreadful CG wolfing out of the TWILIGHT movies - these mongrels are about as threatening as beagles. I've not seen MTV's "Teen Wolf" show but I imagine Hayter's wolves are in that same ballpark. The fight scenes are standard stuff, a lot of lunging about in the dark Canadian woods; you'll be more interested in checking your watch to see if the film's brief running time is coming to a close.
There's something so innocuous about WOLVES, at the end of the day, that I can't really hate it. Most of the YA movies that it'll be compared to are more overtly irritating, putting on pretentious displays of profundity when they're really just trite and unadventurous. WOLVES is a morsel so small you'll be hard-pressed to remember it even as the credits roll; I don't know if that's a compliment or not (probably not) but it's the best pat on the back I can give it.