The last part of the animated film Wolfwalkers is one of the best, if not the best 2D animated films of recent years. This time directors Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart return to Ireland with another beautiful folk tale. A young girl named Robin (Honor Knifsey) finds a pack of wolves in the forest, led by a mysterious she-wolf named Mebh (Eva Whittaker). They become friends and Robin, who himself becomes a she-wolf, has to prevent the people from hunting and eventually exterminating the wolves by order of the head of town, the English general Oliver Cromwell, who the inhabitants call Lord Protector (Simon McBurney).
The plot is quite simple (since it involves magical wolves, I think), but it takes time to determine your world and characters, to describe exactly what is happening, and you have to take time for the details. So you really care about Robin and Meb; their friendship is believable as they develop, even though you already know which way the story is going. Nevertheless, the film has a lot of thematic depth and he uses his characters in an intelligent way. He even uses the Lord Protector to investigate the exploitation of religion to justify evil deeds, which is certainly a terrifying prospect, but it also turns out to be an incredibly interesting motive for an inspired villain.
What immediately stands out is the animation, which is absolutely breathtaking. Although I admire the look of many animated films these days, I have to admit that sometimes they are a bit flat, because many of them have more or less the same visual style. The art direction at Wolfwackers is breathtaking, the incredible colour palette left me speechless. I’m sure the young and adult audience will appreciate it.
Of course not all visual effects work perfectly. Shots in which the characters look at the city from a hill can sometimes give the impression of looking at a wall, and as this is a simpler artistic design, some details of the background unfortunately don’t stand out as well as I would like. But these moments are rare and far away. Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart mix the beauty of nature with the horrors of colonialism. They give life to beautiful animations and take us into a capricious world of passion and mystery.
The film creates a world in which I want to get lost, with its beautiful sets and scenery. The world actually reminded me of Brave. I will always hold on to the proposition that the world of the Braves is actually very attractive, it just needs to be further elaborated. Fortunately, the Wolfwalkers do exactly what the world feels is fully realised and exploited by their great appreciation of Irish folklore. The story is a story that you capture from beginning to end.
It is not only the filmmaking that makes the Wolfwalks of Moore and Stewart so impressive, but also the cultural conversations they initiate. The story of the English takeover of Ireland in the 17th century. The 20th century is clear enough for older children to understand, but I think it will resonate better with an adult audience. Wolfpackers spend a lot of time demonstrating the strong negative reaction of the Irish to the British invasion of their country. But the British decided to settle there and strengthen the country with their soldiers, eventually making Ireland the broken nation we know today. The Wolf Walkers skilfully introduce their audience to the history of British imperialism and at the same time remain a surprisingly imaginative father-daughter story.
Wolfwalkers is one of the best animated films released in years, and easily the best animated film I’ve seen so far this year. This film has everything to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Film, because the animation, storytelling and ultimately the unique passion that went into making the final product distinguishes it from many contemporary animation films. Wolf Travellers is one of the best 2020 films to date. Now available on Apple TV+!
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