When Will Randall (Nicholson) a famous book editor and average guy, is bitten by a wolf in the snowy foothills of Vermont, he is dazed but thinks nothing else of it. Then after the event he begins to change. He can see after having to wear glasses, he is more sexually aware of women after being repressed for so long and he is sleeping during the day and waking at night. The problem is that he is not only waking but hunting. When his ex wife is found murdered, attacked by a suspected wild animal, all fingers point to Will.
I will have to start this review by mentioning another film of note in this genre. That film is The beast within. That is not only another body changing film in the cannon of Werewolf films but like Wolf it plays on something. The human animal inside us. Connecting the deepest animal desires running through us, with the human shell. You see anything that deals with this has to deal with our primal being and lust. Lust for sex, blood and freedom. All are present here and all work to varying degrees.
Here director Mike Nichols makes a film that plays on the charisma and charm of Jack Nicholson with the plain ordinary human executive countered with his movie star. He is a great choice for the central role. It takes time but the film becomes a Jack vehicle, where he layers some superb physical acting with nuanced dull as dishwater performance (lifted for his later oscar winning turn in As Good as it gets). The film is an almost great because of this. It lacks other things also. I think it remains to undecided on what primal animal is. This means that the killing of a deer say is less bloody and more bloody silly. It makes the scenes of good versus bad and the struggle for dominance seem like a fight between two absent and lustful teenagers. This not withstanding the film has some high points. Take the corporate scenes which are complex and dirty enough to marry truth and fiction. Spader is excellent as the protege and counter point. Always a great actor, he matches Nicholson here and they bounce off each other in tone and textures.
Firstly the crystal clear transfer. The remaster is as expected, beautiful. I love 90s film stock look. The light hues are divine and show here with aplumb. The extras on the Blu Ray have 2 high points but are all very good. The first is Creating Wolf documentary which sees all those craftspeople talk about the work and Rick Baker is fantastic. Then the B Roll footage piece is wonderful. You see unguarded and unexpected responses from the famous and infamous. They are seen as human and even do human things…
INDICATOR LIMITED BLU-RAY EDITION SPECIAL FEATURES:
- High Definition remaster
- Stereo audio
- 5.1 surround sound track
- The Beast Inside: Creating Wolf (2017, 54 mins): a new documentary on the making of the film with new interviews from SFX legend Rick Baker, screenwriter Wesley Strick and producer Douglas Wick
- Never-before-seen archival interviews with director Mike Nichols, actors Michelle Pfeiffer, James Spader and Kate Nelligan, producer Douglas Wick and writer Jim Harrison
- Never-before-seen archival interviews with SFX maestro Rick Baker and production designer Bo Welch
- B-roll footage
- Original theatrical trailer
- Image gallery: on-set and promotional photography
- New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
- Limited edition exclusive booklet with a new essay by Brad Stevens, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and historic articles on the film
- UK premiere on Blu-ray
- Limited Blu-ray Edition of 3,000 copies