Wednesday, 14 December 2011

The Last Werewolf

(November 2011)

I’ve talked about horror before. Though that post was basically just a massively long and self-indulgent set-up for a punchline having a pop at a bunch of teenage girls. Still, the sentiments were true enough, in that as a genre I can take horror or leave it. But I’d not really describe this as horror, more like a contemporary James Bond with fangs.

You get the shadowy opposing organization with world-spanning resources and a slightly ludicrous acronym as a name, a ton of cold, meaningless sex and hot, remorseless killing, and an antagonist with a freaky-looking sidekick. Though ‘Ellis’ perhaps isn’t up there with ‘Oddjob’ as a moniker.

As with Bond, this rips along at a fair old pace. I wolfed it down in three sittings (I’m so, so, very sorry), which is quite surprising given that the first half of the novel involves the protagonist moping around claiming that he’s terminally bored of life and the world and just wants to die. Fucking Emo.

It’s just a touch too arch, though. A touch too knowing. It’s trying to have its cake and eat it. All the narrator’s erudition, cynicism and references to giving up and letting the fates have their fun come what may can’t disguise or excuse that fact that everything which happens to Jake happens to him. He’s an almost completely passive observer to his own story; there are just too many skin-of-the-teeth life saving interventions by third parties to be credible (ignoring the whole werewolf thing, of course).

Not that it isn’t fun, not that it isn’t enjoyable, but after the third or fourth last-ditch rescue from vampires by vampire hunters, or vice versa,  any sense of real peril has evaporated and you’re left relying on the charms of the lead character. Fortunately he’s pretty damn charming.

In summary then, depressing-fun and stupid-clever. How’s that for a balanced review?


  1. "any sense of real peril has evaporated"

    After season 2 of Heroes I felt that. Everyone who died could come back so no one could really die...

    The writers destroyed an awesome show without seeing that clear problem coming.

  2. I loved the first series of Heroes, but I managed about four episodes of the second before giving up. Doesn't sound like I missed much.

    Slight tangent - I actually liked the first series so much that I forced myself to watch it week by week, instead of acquiring all the episodes and gorging on the lot over a long weekend.

    Being stuck to a broadcast schedule was all very retro, but I think actually made it better. The pacing and tension were far better, as intended I suppose. House is something else that suffers from this, if it's not the last five minutes of the episode yet, you can be pretty sure the diagnosis is wrong,and if you see to many episodes in quick succession it can seem pretty formulaic.


    You have to be willing to kill main characters to make us worry about the others. These are not perfect films, but made better by offing characters:
    - 'Hurt Locker', Guy Pearce's character
    - 'Serenity', Wash's death
    - 'Saving Private Ryan', just about everyone

    I think Whedon does it best in 'Serenity'. I mean, just one look at 'Reavers' makes you believe all of your main characters are fucked. Then he kills one off! Then the battle goes really badly! Until the hot hybrid turns into Kali!

    No, I am not a 'Browncoat'. Really.

  4. We're getting back to the Optimus Prime/Bambi's mum discussion from the 'Transmetropolitan' post. Funny how they've no qualms about doing it in kid's movies.

    You think Serenity is worth a look then? I've heard some of the hype, but frankly I've still got one and a half seasons of Mad Men to get through. Not sure if I can commit the effort to getting into something new...