Running with Wolves

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photo by Cartoon Saloon

Wolfwalkers follows wolf walker Mebh and huntress Robynn as they try to save Mebh’s wolf pack.

A fantastical film of wolves, magic, freedom and repression and yet very few eyes to lay upon its glory. With its folk tale-like style and indulgence into wildness, “Wolfwalkers” is a movie made for kids but can be enjoyed by all. However, it is not on the big screen, and many people have let this movie slip under their radar, which is a tragedy for both the movie and viewers missing out on such a visual delight. 

Original movies are made for exclusive streaming services to attract viewers to pay that hefty subscription fee just to see that movie, hoping that it will  hook them in to continue subscribing. The tragedy in this, is that movies like “Wolfwalkers” will suffer the undeserving fate of obscurity; no matter how good a film may be, people, for good reason, refuse to pay $84 a year for one movie.

“Wolfwalkers” was created by Cartoon Saloon, a studio known for similarly stylized movies like “Song of the Sea” and “The Breadwinner”, and was released Nov. 13 exclusively on Apple TV+. It follows the daughter of a hunter, Robynn (Honor Knefsey), as her father attempts to wipe out a pack of wolves terrorizing the nearby town. In an attempt to follow in her father’s footsteps, Robynn befriends a mythical Wolfwaker, a person that becomes a wolf when they sleep, named Mebh (Eva Whittaker) and realizes that the wolf pack may not be as bad as she thinks.

From the first look, the story book-esque animation is what differentiates this film from other animated features of its kind. Cartoon Saloon continues with its style of smooth and fun animation that encapsulates everything that 2-D animation stands for: believable movement, unique characters, and a fun escape from reality. The characters are unique and the environments  The wolves in the film are animated in a glorious furry stream that moved across the screen as a pack, perfectly portraying the feeling of closeness the wolf pack was meant to represent. The animation of the constrained Robyn juxtaposed the free-flowing wildness of her canine counterpart Mebh. Though the animation alone makes the film nice to watch, the true magic comes from how it combines with the themes of the story. 

To portray its message of freeing oneself from their personal restraints , “Wolfwalkers” follows two settings: the town and the woods. At first, the audience is meant to view the forest as scary and the town as safe. As the movie progresses, it becomes more evident that the town was more of a cage and the forest was freedom. This symbolism is carried throughout the film, and though at times it is as obvious as a character trapped in a cage, at others it is as metaphorical as a character trapped in their own fear. Though it’s not a new message, it is one that is worth being told; that everybody deserves to be free.

Even with a movie this good, it suffered due to its platform. As the number of streaming services increase, so do exclusive movie releases. Seven dollars for Netflix here, six dollars for Hulu there. It becomes too much to keep track, and most people don’t want to have to pay for every streaming service out there. As a result, a lot of exclusive movies on less popular streaming services like “Wolfwalkers” aren’t seen by a large amount of viewers. Good movies aren’t getting the viewers they deserve because those viewers are not willing to subscribe to so many streaming services. The original glory of Netflix was the compilation of movies and shows from everywhere that could be watched at any time, but as time goes on, the glory grows dimmer with the influx of premium viewing platforms. 

If this trend continues, movie lovers can only hope that new streaming services will prove themselves worth the price they ask. As it is now, they are stuck in a miserable tug-of-war between streaming-services vying for their attention with lack-luster lineups of one or two good movies and hundreds of below average ones. 

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