As I’ve aged (gracefully, I like to think) I’ve noticed that I don’t tend to watch much animation; I don’t dislike it, and in fact respect it as an art from in and of itself, though it just doesn’t engage me.
Part of the problem is that I grew up on hand-drawn animation. And sure, a lot of it was not terribly good, but there was a variety to it that I don’t think computer-generated animation can match.
Though due to economic reasons it’s grown too expensive – at least in the United States – to do, though apparently no one told either the Japanese or the Irish that because I recently saw Wolfwalkers (I caught a preview thanks to The Hollywood Reporter) and it’s amazing.
And as I note in my review, it’s a werewolf story through and through, which is certainly an unusual topic for a cartoon that’s not trying to sell werewolf-based toys.
The story, which is beautiful, takes place in the 18th century in Ireland, when wolves were common (did I mention it’s educational as well? There were grey wolves in Ireland and Scotland, till they were driven to extinction) before people killed them off in the name of making room for farms and settlements.
Though the star of the movie is the animation, in and of itself, which as I mentioned earlier, is hand-drawn and beautiful, oftentimes looking like a watercolor painting (it’s worth mentioning that the main characters in cheaper hand-drawn animation tended to exist outside of their background. It had it’s charms but it looked cheap. Wolfwalkers? Not so much. It’s gorgeous and everything feels like a piece.
It’s beautiful and touching, with great music and voice acting and might make you wonder why we, despite prohibitive economics, making movies like this today.
Because perhaps we should.