Wolfwalkers Review – The Leader of the Animated Pack


It’s no secret that the filmmakers behind The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea are adept at adapting Celtic folklore for modern audiences. Their latest film, Wolfwalkers, is no different. Wolfwalkers is a movie that’s full of cultural history. Much like its predecessors, directors Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart build an artistic and beautiful mythical world that this modern Irish folktale is trying to tell. Wolfwalkers follows Robyn Goodfellowe, a young hunter who moves to Ireland to hunt down the last wolf pack with her father, Bill. While on a hunt, Robyn befriends Mebh MacTire, a wolfwalker that she was tasked to hunt down and kill.

In Wolfwalkers, the theme of loss and respecting the old tales plays heavily in the film as it has in Tomm Moore’s previous films. You can almost say that Wolfwalkers is the spiritual sequel to those films as it further explores the divide between the spiritual and human realms. Where Song of the Sea uses folklore as a solution to Ben’s plight, Wolfwalkers illustrates that modern thought (Robyn) and the folktales of old (Mebh) can complement each other well. 

The relationship between Robyn and Mebh is one of friendship and similar beliefs. They come from different worlds, but the pair’s friendship bridges the gap between wolves and the human world. Not to mention their personalities contrast and complement each other so well. They’re essentially the odd couple. Yet that relationship brings us back to the theme of respecting the old tales. Both modernism and respect for the cultural folklore can live harmoniously together — much like Robyn and Mebh’s relationship. That is the film’s greatest strength. It celebrates the spirit of Celtic paganism and its culture through a modern-day storyline.

Wolfwalkers - Honor Kneafsey

At the same time, the narrative is visualized in such an elegant way. The character designs are much simpler when you compare it to Kells and Song. There is less emphasis on stylizing the characters through basic shapes and making them look more natural. The film also features a colorful woodblock aesthetic and a “looser and more expressive linework” — a contrast which differentiates the magical and human world. The distinction is striking, but that’s not the only visual cue you’ll find in the film. The town features a gray, lifeless color palette while the forest features a vibrant palette. The variation of colors is just another example of the divide between these two worlds.

Overall, this is what makes Wolfwalkers such a one-of-a-kind animated film that celebrates the Celtic culture and its folklore. These stories are critical in preserving cultures for future generations. This is why Wolfwalkers‘ message about the harmony between myths and modernism is so necessary. It also helps that Wolfwalkers is such a gentle, beautiful, and wondrous film.

Rating: 4/5 atoms

Wolfwalkers is now playing in select theaters and hits Apple TV+ on December 11th.

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