PG for scary wolf related things, including violence towards wolves. The thing about scary wolf things is that it often involves blood and tearing, so that can be pretty traumatizing. I was kind of surprised that my kids powered through it. But there was more than the normal share of knowing glances between the adults while watching this one. PG.
DIRECTORS: Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart
Maybe I'm just becoming a broken old man. I really think that's what is going on. When I saw that his was an Apple TV+ original, I really wanted to shotgun it before we lost our subscription. Then Apple TV+ extended our subscription and I forgot about it. When I watched it with the kids, it is exactly what I thought Wolfwalkers was going to be, but I couldn't really get into it.
Stuff like Wolfwalkers, The Secret of Kells, and Song of the Sea are absolutely gorgeous passion projects. They kind of feel like the Irish Studio Ghibli. So why am I being more critical about something like Wolfwalkers than other stuff? Because I cannot deny the quality of Wolfwalkers. If anything, Wolfwalkers might be an even more gorgeous movies than its predecessors. I think part of it comes from the very deep dive into Irish mythology. See, my daughter is the mythology nut. She probably really understood this and appreciated it more than I actually did, and I was the one watching. There comes a certain point where the novelty of being outside of a culture kind of wears off. It's watching someone else appreciating their favorite show, but not actually enjoying the show yourself. And when it comes to Wolfwalkers, it has a very strange effect.
See, the formula of the story has been done before. Heck, I just saw this in Flora & Ulysses. I mean, with Flora, it was at least a comedy. But the idea of the antagonist being a committed animal hunter for the sake of the citizenry is kind of a weird archetype. Now, I'm also not exactly a pet person. But I kind of relate to the villain of the piece, the Lord Protector, more than I do the protagonists of the piece. The easy write off of this is that the Lord Protector is a terrible person socially, so I can see why we don't like him. But Robyn's father kind of makes a lot of sense. Wolves running around a village seems like a terrible idea. (I just realized that this is the same issue in How to Train Your Dragon.) Wolves are scary. Not all of them are Wolfwalkers. Heck, the vast majority of the population don't really know that wolfwalkers exist, let alone that they shouldn't kill these wolfwalkers. It's such a specific problem that Robyn and Maeb face that it is weird that the antagonist gets demonized like he does.
Which really makes me question the intention of the Lord Protector. The big thing that is at stake is the life of Maeb's mother. Yes, I see that this is the objective good in this story, but I can't really fault the villains for not knowing that Maeb's mother was trapped in the body of a wolf that they have kidnapped. But my bigger question is why the Lord Protector is actually holding onto this giant wolf? I'm not saying that he should kill it, but killing it makes way more sense from a characters' perspective anyway. What's the deal with making it a huge show for all of the people to rise up in arms? Isn't the point of the Lord Protector and Robyn's father taking care of all of the wolves to bring peace to the village? If carting out this giant wolf just to slaughter it in front of everyone would solve anything, I would understand. But wouldn't it cause the townspeople to live in greater terror of the wolves. Maybe there's a political structure that I'm not really aware of in Wolfwalkers? Maybe the Lord Protector is on the verge of being unseated, so he needs to prove the threat that is out there. But wolves are something apolitical. They kind of just exist and eat people.
I do appreciate the fact that Robyn is given a certain set of moral questions that don't really have good answers. Robyn tries to do right by everybody and finds out that she can't really do right by anybody. Her father want her to stay home, but he can't really track wolves as well as he thinks. Maeb really is a bit much and did cause Robyn to become a wolfwalker. It's kind of stunning that the directors actually brought me around to sympathizing with Maeb considering that she basically ruined everyone's life with this choice to bite Robyn. Yet, we still tend to hold Robyn accountable for her mistakes, despite the fact that she often finds herself in no-win scenarios. Yeah, the movie is called Wolfwalkers and wolfwalkers seems way more mystical and fun than what I instantly associate them with: werewolves. But this is just a werewolf story where being a werewolf is fun.
So then why am I not instantly calling this kids' version / werewolf equivalent of The Lost Boys? Oh my goodness. Did I just fall in love with this movie through my writing of the blog of it? I mean, there is a real connection there. The entire town finds wolves to be these evil creatures who ransack and pillage villages for food. They looks scary as heck in this movie. But once Robyn becomes one of them, all of the sudden it looks like it would be really cool to be a wolfwalker. There's magic yellow energy that just seems like this positive vibe is behind it. And the wolfwalkers are a group of outsiders who make it look really fun and dangerous to be a wolf. The only difference is that The Lost Boys --a movie that definitely needs a rewatch pretty soon --stresses that the vampires are still awful, despite how cool they look. The wolves end up coming out of Wolfwalkers as the oppressed characters. Okay, maybe I'm coming around.
For as pretty as the movie got, I just got a little bored. Maybe I wasn't in the mood. Maybe I just had unreasonably high expectations for it. There's nothing wrong with the film, but I just wanted something extra.
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Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.