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Review: Remarkable 'Wolfwalkers' glistens with beauty

Courtesy of Apple TV+


Mesmerizing in every sense, “Wolfwalkers” is a lovingly crafted and glistening animated adventure from Cartoon Saloon, the studio behind “The Secret of Kells,” “Song of the Sea,” and “The Breadwinner.” This engaging work of art echoes many similarities to other prized cartoons, especially “How to Train Your Dragon” and Studio Ghibli's “Princess Mononoke” but roars to life with boundless textures and canvases to build upon. It’s like watching a storybook literally come to life in front of your eyes, and makes the case why hand drawn animation still reigns supreme. 

Set in 1650 at the height of English colonization in Ireland, “Wolfwalkers” is riddled with rich folklore. Oliver Cromwell has sent a hunter named Bill Goodfellowe (Sean Bean) to a remote outpost that’s been the sight of several wolf attacks. Though his duties - kill the wolves - are simple, his young daughter Robyn (Honor Kneafsey) yearns to join the hunt, upset at being left behind in a town that wants nothing to do with them. Like her father, Robyn is an outsider who is alienated by local kids. 

Robyn disobeys direct orders and follows dad into the woods one evening, figuring out urban legends surrounding wolfwalkers are true. She meets Mebh (Eva Whittaker) who by day is a young girl and by night transforms into a wolf. Mebh is equipped with healing powers, has complete control over the wolfpack, and is patiently waiting for her mother to return from wolf form so their squad can be led to safety. 

Most of “Wolfwalkers” is divvied out with polished hand drawn animation but has a slick watercolor aesthetic to its presentation. In the world of digital CGI, it’s nice to be reminded that human hands can craft something beautiful. You understand that “Wolfwalkers” was made from a place of admiration, signaling one of the best animated ventures this year. 

Filmmakers Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart have developed another top notch celtic narrative fueled with tension and passion that’s a nice departure from all the glitz in the Disney canon. Certain sequences can often run a tad longer than mandated, attributed to a lengthy not-so-animated friendly 105 minute runtime, but the joy of watching these characters spring to life makes up for those minor transgressions. “Wolfwalkers” should have no problem entrancing both adults and kiddos alike. 

Grade: B+ 

WOLFWALKERS opens in select theaters starting Friday November 13th (including various Michigan cinemas like CINEMARK ANN ARBOR 20 and THE STATE THEATER) before debuting exclusively on Apple TV+ December 11th. 


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