Movie #64 2021: Wolfwalkers (2020)

You may not have heard of Wolfwalkers. You may not be interested in watching it because of that fact. Throw all of your expectations of modern day animation out of the window. This is a film you need to see.

Wolfwalkers is the final film in co-director Tomm Moore’s “Irish Folklore Trilogy”, and takes places in 1650s Ireland. Basically, this is everything Brave wanted to be, except it’s set in Ireland instead of Scotland. The film follows young Robyn Goodfellowe, who is an English girl living in Ireland. Her father is part of Oliver Cromwell’s group of protectors, who have vowed to protect the Irish people from wolf attacks. Wanting to be a hunter herself, Robyn follows her father to work one day, and uncovers a mystical species. The truth is, the wolves don’t want to hurt the villagers at all, and simply want to live in peace in their pack. Robyn quickly befriends a young girl named Mebh, who is secretly a ‘Wolfwalker’, meaning she is a wolf and can turn into a human as a disguise. The girls band together in order to find Mebh’s mother, who has been captured by Cromwell and his cronies.

I won’t say any more for fear of spoilers, but what happens next is truly magical and full of traditional mystical Irish folklore.

I’ll be completely candid here. Wolfwalkers is not just the most creative and visually striking animation I’ve seen recently, but the most creative and visually striking film I’ve seen recently. Everything is so textured and unique, and the use of curved background details alongside harsh, jagged straight lines is amazing. Hand-drawn animation is often considered something of the past, but this film proves that it’s not only alive and well, but thriving.

Not only are the visuals extremely unique, but the characters themselves are so likeable. Plus, it’s so nice to hear some regional accents for once! If I’m nitpicking, the girl who voices Robyn forgets that she’s supposed to be a Yorkshire lass sometimes, but I’ll forgive it because it really doesn’t take anything away from how wonderful this is. Sean Bean and Maria Doyle Kennedy bring up the rear and lend their voices to good effect also, rounding off a really talented list of cast members.

The story takes a little while to get going, but good LORD it’s all drama from there. The narrative is so original in its twists and turns that I saw absolutely none of them coming. Hence why the synopsis above is somewhat brief.

Simply put, this is 100% not to be missed cinema. It’s completely different to anything else out there and the fact that they kept up such intricate hand drawn visuals for the entire run time is outstanding. Lain over the top is a wonderful original soundtrack, that is not only perfectly fitting, but also whimsical and exciting.

Within the movie is the song “Running with the Wolves”, which is too good not to share:

In short, Wolfwalkers absolutely deserved its Golden Globe nomination this year. (Again, I’m writing this before the winners were announced, and though it’s unlikely it won the Best Animation prize, I’ll be absolutely buzzing if it did.)

Not only is it completely different to any other animated movie in recent years, it is simply exceptional cinema. Don’t miss it.

Wolfwalkers is available to stream on Apple TV+ in the UK.

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