(director: Michael Giacchino; screenwriters: based on the Marvel Comic books/teleplay by Heather Quinn/Peter Cameron/created by Gerry Conway and Mike Ploog; cinematographer: Zoe White; editor: Jeffrey Ford; music: Michael Giacchino; cast: Gael Garcia Bernal (Jack Russell), Laura Donnelly (Elsa Bloodstone), Harriet Sansom Harris (Verussa), Kirk R. Thatcher (Jovan), Leonardo Nam (Liorn), Eugenie Bondurant (Azarel), Richard Dixon (voice of Ulysses Bloodstone), Al Hamacher (Billy Swan), Casey Jones (the monster Ted), Rick Wasserman (narrator-voice); Runtime: 52; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Stephen Broussard; Disney+; 2022-b/w)

“At only 52 minutes, I had no trouble enduring it.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The directorial debut of the Academy Award-winning composer Michael Giacchino. Previously he has done the scores for the director Jon Watts’ Spider-Man trilogy, for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

It’s a black and white Marvel “special” for Disney.

The 2022 TV special film follows a lycanthrope superhero who fights crime using a curse brought on by his bloodline. It’s loosely based on the Marvel Comic Book character that was created by Gerry Conway and Mike Ploog in 1972. The teleplay is by Heather Quinn/Peter Cameron.

Jack Russell (Gael Garcia Bernal is at the funeral of the famed but unpleasant monster hunter Ulysses Bloodstone (voice of Richard Dixon). On the site, his widow, Verussa (Harriet Harris) sets up a competition among the five greatest monster hunters, the unassuming monster hunter Jack Russell and Ulysses’ estranged daughter Elsa (Laura Donnelly), and 3 others (Kirk R. Thatcher, Leonardo Nam and Eugenie Bondurant) to slay the monster on the manor grounds and thereby to become leader of the hunter group and win the Bloodstone mystical artifact of power over all monsters (it gives its owner supernatural strength and longevity).   

The lingering question arises as to who among these hunters might be the monster.

It’s played out as a homage to both the b/w horror classics from the 1930s (like the ones from Universal & Hammer) and the backlog of Marvel super-hero comics (though none of the hunters are Marvel characters but for Jack and Elsa).

Filled with both action and violence (ears are ripped off), and some profane comedy from the Bernal character, as it goes through twists and turns following the arc of the comic book serial.

The werewolf is a CGI creation named Ted.
It felt like a campy film filled with nostalgia for the followers of the Marvel comics to identify with.

Its action scenes were merely okay, and though its unique story differed greatly from the comics usual caped crusader stories–that worked out fine. Its dialogue was stilted and it’s much too bloody but not to the point of being a turn-off. If taken lightly it could be a fun watch.

At only 54 minutes, I had no trouble enduring it. Which is not a ringing endorsement, but that’s the best I can say about such a slight film that was so awkwardly filmed.

REVIEWED ON 10/15/2022  GRADE: C+