Details At A Glance

Category Thriller Theatrical Trailer(s) 1
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Running Time 121 minutes Commentary Tracks None
RSDL/Flipper No/No Other Extras None
Region 4    
Distributor Columbia Tristar    
RRP $34.95    

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
English (Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1    
Macrovision Yes    
Subtitles English 

Plot Synopsis

    Wolf is a retelling of the classic werewolf tale. It stars Jack Nicholson as Will Randall, a mild-mannered editor-in-chief of a book publishing company who runs into a wolf whilst driving home from a conference. The wolf is apparently dead, but when Will approaches too closely, he is bitten.

    We are then introduced to the other main characters at a party held at Jack's boss' estate (Raymond Alden, played by Christopher Plummer). We are informed that Mr Alden hosts parties such as this one in order to fire employees. Will is fired, and he infers that a young brown-nosing upstart will take his place (Stewart Swinton, played by James Spader). Will wanders about Mr Alden's estate, and bumps into Laura Alden (Michelle Pfeiffer), Mr Alden's daughter.

    Next, we return to Will's workplace where he begins to notice that he has heightened sensory powers; his hearing is hyper-acute and his sense of smell is far better than normal. He also feels very aggressive and virile. He decides to take on Stewart Swinton at his own game, and manages to force Mr Alden to give him his old job back, at a substantially better rate of pay. Mixed in with all of this, Will discovers that his wife is having an affair with Stewart, and Will himself begins an affair with Laura Alden.

    Will comes to realize that he is turning into a wolf at night and rampaging through the city, which he is not happy about, particularly when his ex-wife is found murdered in Central Park with her throat ripped out. Will has no recollection of this event, but he is sure that he is responsible. Somehow, Laura Alden and Stewart Swinton end up at the local police station at the same time, and Laura begins to suspect that Stewart is also a werewolf (he was bitten by Will early in the piece when his affair is discovered). She rushes back to Will, who has been locked in a barn at his own request to prevent another rampage, but Stewart is in hot pursuit. Predictably, the two werewolves fight. Predictably, one of the two wins (guess who), and the movie ends with the inference that Laura is also now a werewolf.

Transfer Quality


    This is a generally excellent DVD transfer. It is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The movie was razor sharp at all times. In terms of clarity, this is one of the best DVDs I have ever seen. Shadow detail was superb with clearly defined shadow detail and no trace of noise. This is quite important for a movie such as this, as a lot of the action takes place in dimly lit night sequences. These scenes are all rendered extremely well. A few of the scenes involving lots of closely spaced horizontal lines or vertical lines showed a minor amount of aliasing (shimmer), particularly scenes with venetian blinds in the background (Will's workplace), and scenes showing closely spaced books in the background (negotiating with Mr Alden). There were a lot of scenes in this movie set in the publishing company, and a lot of these scenes had venetian blinds in them, so this artefacting was noticeable.

    The colour is superb throughout, except for the scenes at the party at Alden's estate, where the colour balance seemed a little off. Colours are well saturated throughout the remainder of the movie, however. There is one sequence in particular involving an enormous amount of red lighting, which was perfectly clear and clean with no chroma noise.

    A few very minor MPEG artefacts were seen early in the movie during low lit scenes which involved a slight loss of background detail, such as a scene showing Will's workplace where he notes his hyperacute hearing, and we pan around - the bannister in the background pixelizes slightly during this pan. There were a small number of print artefacts seen through this movie, both black and white flecks. There were a few more of them than I would have liked to have seen, but they are a trivial distraction.


    There are several audio tracks on this DVD. The default audio is English Dolby Digital 2.0 channel, surround encoded. I cannot understand why Columbia Tristar choose this as their default audio format rather than the superior 5.1 mix. Also present is a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack (which I listened to) and both 5.1 and 2.0 tracks in French. There are no MPEG tracks at all on this DVD.

    Dialogue was always clear and completely intelligible. The music never overpowered the dialogue.

    The sound staging was generally up front rather than all-encompassing which was a pity, as there were many scenes which would have benefitted from a more enveloping soundfield. During the action sequences, the sound becomes more enveloping, but these scenes are the exception rather than the rule.

     The surround channels were used only lightly during music and occasionally to create an ambient soundfield. I did not specifically note any use of split surrounds, even during the action sequences where the surrounds became considerably more active.

    The .1 channel was used sparingly to enhance the music, and to underpin the action sequences. When it was used, it added a pleasing bottom end to the soundtrack mix.


    There are no extras on this disc except for the Wolf theatrical trailer, presented in 4:3 and with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack which sounded mono. The standard Columbia Tristar teaser trailer is not present on this disc. This is a marginal improvement in the extras situation with Columbia Tristar, but extras are still sorely lacking.


    Wolf is an unremarkable movie. The story is predictable, the ending is predictable, the testosterone flows far too freely and predictably, and the only interest I had in the movie was in some of Jack Nicholson's acting - he is ideally suited to this role. Seeing him cavort with a woman young enough to be his daughter, however, is not a pretty sight. The characters are all quite one-dimensional which is a pity since there is scope in this story for further character development, particularly in the struggle between the man and the animal within, which was superficially touched on. Michelle Pfeiffer's character in particular is badly written - she varies from a street-savvy woman of the 90s to a screaming 50s B-movie token female and back again numerous times.

    The video quality is very good, the clearest that I have seen so far, except for a few very minor artefacts as detailed above. This is just below reference quality.

    The audio quality is good but unremarkable. There is nothing wrong with the mix, but there is nothing spectacular about it either.

Ratings (out of 5)


Michael Demtschyna
30th September 1998

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer