Wolfwalkers is a 2020 animated fantasy adventure film directed by Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart. An international co-production led by Cartoon Saloon and Mélusine Productions, It is the first installment, it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 12 and was released theatrically in the United Kingdom on October 26, in the United States and Canada on November 13, and in Ireland on December 2. It was released digitally on Apple TV+ on December 11. It received widespread acclaim from critics, who praised the animation and performances.
Plot[edit | edit source]
In 1650 Ireland, the residents of the town of Kilkenny are attempting to clear the neighboring woods for farming as per the orders of the authoritative Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell]], putting them at odds with a pack of wolves living within them. Hunter Bill Goodfellowe and his young rebellious daughter Robyn have been summoned from England to Kilkenny by the Lord Protector to help exterminate the wolves so the woodcutters can continue their work unimpeded. Disliking the confining nature of Kilkenny and wanting to help Bill, she decides to sneak out of the town one day to follow him along with her pet falcon, Merlin. After accidently shooting Merlin with her crossbow after trying to kill a wolf attacking a shepherd and his flock, Robyn watches as a mysterious girl takes Merlin with her back into the woods with the retreating wolves. The Lord Protector scolds Robyn for not working in his scullery and gives Bill two days to kill the wolves.
As she is escorted back to Kilkenny by the Lord Protector’s guards, Robyn manages to sneak away back into the woods, where she finds Merlin has miraculously healed. She is then approached by a young wolf, causing her to stumble into a trap. As the wolf attempts to free Robyn, she attempts to attack it, causing the wolf to bite her on the arm. Merlin and the wolf lead Robyn back to the wolves’ den, where she discovers that the wolf is the same mysterious girl from earlier. The girl, Mebh, calls herself a “Wolfwalker” and she magically heals Robyn’s wound “before it’s too late.” As Mebh and the other wolves lead Robyn out of the den and woods, the two girls get to know more about each other, and they quickly bond over their desires for freedom. Robyn also learns that Mebh’s mother, Moll, also a wolfwalker, has not yet returned in her search for a new home for her pack, though when she tries to convince Bill about the existence of wolfwalkers and her plans for a nonviolent way to rid the woods of the wolves, Bill ignores her, upset over her disobeying the Lord Protector’s orders.
The next morning, while working her first day in the scullery, she is drawn into the Lord Protector’s chambers by a mysterious voice as well as the wolfwalker magic residing in her bitten arm, discovering a large concealed cage, though is quickly ushered out by the head maid. That night, while she sleeps, Robyn finds her soul has left her body and transformed into a wolf, thus making her a wolfwalker herself, forcing her to flee Kilkenny. Returning to woods, Mebh is ecstatic to learn of Robyn’s transformation, and she helps Robyn get accustomed to her new form, including her heightened sense of smell, sound, and speed.
Upon returning to Kilkenny, Robyn attempts to return to her human body, but is drawn to the presence of another wolfwalker, suspecting it to be Moll. After evading the frightened townspeople, Bill amongst them, Robyn manages to infiltrate the Lord Protector’s manor, where she finds Moll. Despite assuring her that Mebh is unharmed, Moll tells Robyn to instruct Mebh to leave the woods with the pack, as it is no longer safe for them there. Unable to free Moll but able to evade the Lord Protector, Robyn manages to return to her human form just as Bill returns home, though the Lord Protector and the rabid townspeople arrive shortly after. The Lord Protector gives Bill one last chance to rid the forest of the wolves lest he be demoted as a footsoldier in his army, and he assures the townspeople that he can tame the wolf that he’s captured, and by extension, nature itself. Robyn’s pleas to let Moll go and declaring her a wolfwalker fall on deaf ears, the Lord Protector deeming it “pagan nonsense.”
Fearing separation from each other, Robyn and Bill tend to their usual duties. Mebh, waiting for Robyn to return on a promise from the previous night, infiltrates Kilkenny herself and searches for her mother. She finds Robyn, who attempts to relay Moll’s message about taking the pack and leaving with them, but Mebh, hurt by Robyn’s refusal to help rescue her mother, resolves to do so alone. Mebh and Robyn then watch as the Lord Protector presents a muzzled and chained Moll to the townspeople. An enraged Mebh storms the stage and attempts to free her, and when Bill tries to restrain her, Moll breaks the muzzle and bites him on the arm. After placing Moll back into the cage, Mebh is forced to flee, but not before promising to return with her pack to rescue her mother. The Lord Protector orders Bill to kill Moll before he joins him and his army to wage war on the wolves. Robyn protects Moll from Bill before freeing her and reuniting with her with Mebh before she and her pack can attack Kilkenny, earning Mebh’s forgiveness.
Bill arrives and shoots Moll in the chest, fearful for Robyn’s safety, though he witnesses Moll’s wolf form turning into a spirit and leaving to return to her human form in the den, Mebh and the wolves following it. Robyn transforms into her wolf form and follows them just as the Lord Protector and his army arrive and begin razing the forest. As Mebh works on trying to heal a grievously wounded Moll, she sends her pack to follow Robyn, who leads them to attack and hold the army back to prevent them from reaching Mebh and Moll. Mebh summons Robyn and her pack back, realizing she needs them present in order to heal Moll, though Robyn is caught in the blast of a cannon ball attack, causing her to get left behind. Robyn thwarts another cannon attack aimed at the den, but is injured as a result. Before the Lord Protector can kill her, Bill, due to Moll’s bite, becomes a wolfwalker and attacks the Lord Protector in his wolf form. Bill, with help from Robyn in her human form, overpowers the Lord Protector and holds him over the edge of a cliff above a waterfall. The Lord Commander resigns to his fate and willingly plunges himself into the jagged rocks below.
Robyn and Bill manage to return to the den where they both help Mebh and the pack revive Moll, who invites Bill and Robyn to stay with them and embrace their new identities as wolfwalkers. Robyn, Mebh, Bill, and Moll then travel with their pack to find a new home, riding in a carriage drawn by Lord Protector’s horse. Bill puts a flower in Moll’s hair and Mebh and Robyn fall asleep in the back, their wolf forms running around the carriage, reaching a valley's peak as they howl in unison, of there Journey begins.
Voice cast[edit | edit source]
- Honor Kneafsey as Robyn Goodfellowe, a young apprentice hunter and Bill's daughter.
- Eva Whittaker as Mebh Óg MacTíre, an adventurous wolfwalker and Moll's daughter.
- Sean Bean as Bill Goodfellowe, a hunter and Robyn's father.
- Simon McBurney as Oliver Cromwell, "The Lord Protector"
- Maria Doyle Kennedy as Moll MacTíre, a leader wolfwalker and Mebh's mother.
- Tommy Tiernan as Seán Óg Woodcutter
- Jon Kenny as Ned Stringy Woodcutter
- John Morton as Stumpy Woodcutter
- Paul Young as Sheep Farmer
- Nora Twomey as Bridget
- Oliver McGrath as Padraig
- Niamh Moyles as Fishmonger
Production[edit | edit source]
On September 8, 2018, Apple acquired Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart's Wolfwalkers from a script by Will Collins. The film is an original concept that was created by Moore and Stewart, and its animation will utilise a unique 2D style rotating between a woodblock aesthetic and loose expressive line work.
Music[edit | edit source]
Moore's frequent collaborators, Bruno Coulais and folk group Kíla, provided the film's original score. Norwegian singer-songwriter Aurora contributes to the soundtrack, with a new version of her already-released single "Running with the Wolves".
Release[edit | edit source]
The theatrical release in Ireland was planned for the same day as the UK but delayed until later in the year due to the enforced closure of cinemas across the country because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was instead released on 2 December.
Reception[edit | edit source]
Box office[edit | edit source]
Critical response[edit | edit source]
On Rotten Tomatoes, 98% of 132 reviews are positive for the film, and the average rating is 8.60/10. Critics consensus on the website reads, "A mesmerizing Celtic-inspired adventure, Wolfwalkers offers an epic ethereal fantasy matched by profound philosophies and stellar voice work." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 86 out of 100, based on 26 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".
Sam Adams of Slate called this the best animated movie of the year to date, noting some weakness in mismatched tone but writing at length about the beauty and technical ability of the animation. Peter Debruge of Variety wrote: "In the decade since "Kells," it’s not just the technological advances that make Moore's latest so impressive, but the rapidly changing cultural conversations as well. He brings everything together by borrowing from timeless visual influences, leaving audiences with another stunning artwork for the ages."
Accolades[edit | edit source]
|2020||AFI Festival||Narrative Feature||Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart||Won|
|Boston Society of Film Critics Awards||Best Animated Film||Wolfwalkers||Template:Draw|||
|Boston Online Film Critics Association||Best Animated Film||Won|||
|Chicago Film Critics Association||Best Animated Film||Won|||
|Critics' Choice Super Awards||Best Animated Movie||Results pending|||
|Best Voice Actress in an Animated Movie||Honor Kneafsey||Results pending|
|Eva Whittaker||Results pending|
|Florida Film Critics Circle||Best Animated Film||Wolfwalkers||Template:Draw|||
|Gotham Awards||Best International Feature||Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart, Paul Young, Nora Twomey and Stéphan Roelants||Results pending|||
|Greater Western New York Film Critics Association||Best Animated Film||Wolfwalkers||Results pending|||
|Indiana Film Journalists Association||Best Animated Film||Template:Draw|||
|Best Vocal/Motion Capture Performance||Sean Bean||Template:Draw|
|Music City Film Critics Association||Best Animated Film||Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart||Results pending|||
|New York Film Critics Circle Awards||Best Animated Film||Wolfwalkers||Won|||
|Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards||Best Animated Film||Won|||
References[edit | edit source]
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- Wolfwalkers. Toronto International Film Festival.
- Wolfwalkers to open in Irish Cinemas from Friday 4th December with previews from Wednesday 2nd December. Wildcard Distribution (25 November 2020).
- Le Peuple loup (in fr). Haut et Court.
- Wolfwalkers de Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart (2020). UniFrance.
- Full programme announced for 64th BFI London Film Festival. British Film Institute (8 September 2020).
- Debruge, Peter (13 September 2020). ‘Wolfwalkers’ Review: What Big Eyes You’ll Have Watching Tomm Moore’s Environmental Fairy Tale.
- Wolfwalkers Box Office.
- <ref name="poster">Wolfwalkers. Apple TV+ Press.
- Wolfwalkers Film Review: Old-School Animation Invigorates Irish Eco-Fable (12 September 2020).
- Wolfwalkers. Toronto International Film Festival.
- Wildcard Distribution. Facebook.
- Wolfwalkers. GKIDS.
- "Cartoon Saloon Launches Rights Division, Teams with Dentsu USA on Wolfwalkers", Animation Magazine, 30 May 2019.
- "17 Major Animated Movies Releasing In 2020", Cartoon Brew, 17 October 2019.
- D'Alessandro, Anthony (September 8, 2018). Apple Acquires Global Rights To Documentary The Elephant Queen – Toronto.
- "Kíla - The latest animated feature from Cartoon Saloon,...", Facebook, 25 August 2020.
- Milligan, Mercedes. "Apple Original Wolfwalkers to Premiere at TIFF Next Month", 25 August 2020.
- Amidi, Amid. "Wolfwalkers, First Apple Animated Feature, To Premiere At TIFF", 25 August 2020.
- Wolfwalkers (2020). Fandango Media.
- Wolfwalkers Reviews. CBS Interactive.
- Adams, Sam (November 13, 2020). Wolfwalkers Is the Best Animated Movie of the Year So Far. Slate.
- Adams, Ryan (2020-12-13). ‘Nomadland’ Named Best Picture at Boston Society of Film Critics Awards, Paul Raci and Yuh-jung Youn Among Winners.
- Adams, Ryan (2020-12-19). The 2020 Boston Online Film Critics Association (BOFCA) Winners.
- Neglia, mATTS (2020-12-21). The 2020 Chicago Film Critics Association (CFCA) wINNERS.
- Critic's Choice Super Awards (in en-US).
- [https://www.nextbestpicture.com/latest/the-2020-florida-film-critics-circle-ffcc-nominations The 2020 Florida Film Critics Circle (FFCC) Nominations | Next Best Picture] (in en-US).
- The Gotham Awards. Independent Filmmaker Project. Retrieved on November 12, 2020.
- The 2020 Greater Western New York Film Critics Association (GWNYFCA) Nominations | Next Best Picture (in en-US).
- The 2020 Indiana Film Journalists Association (IFJA) Nominations | Next Best Picture (in en-US).
- The 2020 Music City Film Critics Association (MCFCA) Nominations| Next Best Picture (in en-US).
- Lindahl, Chris (2020-12-18). New York Film Critics Circle Awards Winners (Updating Live).
- Davis, Clayton (2020-12-20). Los Angeles Film Critics Announce 2020 Winners (Updating Live).
[edit | edit source]
- Wolfwalkers at the Internet Movie Database
- Ireland and UK official website
- US and Canada official website
- Wolfwalkers on Apple TV
- "A First Look at Wolfwalkers, Tomm Moore's New Feature" on Cartoon Brew
- "1st Look: Wolfwalkers Trailer is a Celtic-Inspired Delight" on Krypton Radio