Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart
Starring Honor Kneafsey, Eva Whittaker, Sean Bean, Simon McBurney, Tommy Tiernan
Set in an Irish community where wolves are terrifying, ominous beasts, Cartoon Saloon's Wolfwalkers shows the challenges and actualities that are exposed when a young girl can not repel her need for adventure.
That girl is Robyn; an independently driven and ambitious girl on the lookout for trouble and a chance to explore. She is voiced by the wonderfully energetic Honor Kneafsey, who's voice propels the story through its childlike wonder and artistic charm.
Sean Bean voices Robyn's father, and he too along with Simon McBurney's Lord Protector Cromwell, deliver powerful vocal performances to keep you gripped. Bean has just the right portion of dulcet tones to make you feel at ease in the same way that he's clearly trying to make Robyn feel. It would be unfair however to mention the above and not pinpoint the strongest performance from Eva Whittaker, as she voices the wolfwalker Mebh with so much passion and again, a childlike quality. In the moments between her and Robyn you are left feeling a sense of friendship between them that it is so difficult to translate through an animated format.
But it's the animation that proves triumphant here. The 2D landscapes are so incredibly stunning and Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart's clear vision was truly met in every frame.
The contrast in animation of the wolves is superb. One moment they're scaring townsfolk with their arched backs and tattered fur and the next they're running like happy dogs with their tongues out and tails wagging.
The carnage that appears on screen when moments of danger or sadness happen make those moments truly heart-wrenching. And the wolf vision was spectacular. To look at, this is a real masterpiece.
However, I was left in the middle third of the story losing interest just a little. Although, I felt the plot was extremely inventive, moving away from cliches to leave it unpredictable and driven, it didn't captivate me in the same way that other animated films so often do.
A triumph of a film in which danger so quickly becomes joy but joy eventually evolves into danger. And in what order these two interrupt each other is never clear, as a boisterous, yet sometimes slow narrative forces us to expect the unexpected. And through the artistic lens of a wolf's eye...it makes the carnage even more beautiful.
Wolfwalkers available now on Apple TV+