Every child has a fable or childhood story that they resonate with. It’s either a memory that frightens you within an inch of your life or takes you right back to the anticipation of those nighttime rituals of your mother, father, grandparents, babysitter or sibling reading your favorite. For me, it was Dr. Seuss every time. so, nothing gave me greater pleasure than to see Wolfwalkers and hoping that it would be a great bedtime story for a whole new generation. I’m elated to report…I was right.
In a time of superstition and magic, when wolves are seen as demonic and an evil to be tamed, a young apprentice hunter, Robyn (Honor Kneafsey), comes to Ireland with her father to wipe out the last pack. But when Robyn saves a wild native girl, Mebh (Eva Whittaker), their friendship leads her to discover the world of the Wolfwalkers and transform her into the very thing her father is tasked to destroy.
Directed by Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart, this third installment of Cartoon Saloon’s Irish folklore trilogy fulfills the promise of The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea. Wolfwalkers is rapidly paced from start to finish, although it doesn’t kick into full gear until around the midway point. It’s literally like a storybook brought to life and I was there for every single solitary second. The watercolor digital animation is lush, gorgeous and whimsical making fantabulous use of multiple split screens for time lapse purposes. One of my favorite shots is an animated stairwell shot right of the Hitchcock handbook and now living in the animated genre.
As a woman of color with Irish roots, I could totally relate to the underlying theme of a group wanted to extinguish and destroy what is different or not understood. The friendship between Robyn and Mebh is loving and complicated, as is the relationship with Robyn and her Dad. At the end of the day, they all do what they have to do all in the name of love and loyalty. Although at some point, Robyn is a little reminiscent of Princess Merida from Disney Pixar’s ‘Brave,’ it doesn’t bother me at all.
Wolfwalkers is by far one of the best and most original animated films of 2020 and coming to Apple TV Plus on December 11th.