Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Blood and Chocolate - Movie Review

I recently finished the book Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause. Strangely, I didn't realize Blood and Chocolate was a book until after I saw the movie. Even more strangely, I think I enjoyed the movie more. This is an odd occurrence for me, and one I have to contemplate a bit more before presenting a final verdict. Liking a movie more than the book that inspired it? Hmmm...

Before I review the book, which I have very mixed feelings about, here is my review of the film. This is an old review, written back in my film critic days, right after the film was released. I'm reposting it here because, well, because I can. And with New Moon opening in just a few days (and visions of a shirtless Taylor Lautner frolicking through my head), I think a werewolf film review is appropriate.

Here's the review, originally printed under the title Werewolves Need Love Too.

How would I describe Blood and Chocolate in 10 words or less? It’s a little like Romeo and Juliet, with werewolves. It is easy to poke fun at the recent slew of over-the-top, special effects-laden horror films that are just, well, bad. But Blood and Chocolate isn’t a bad movie; it just isn’t a great movie.

Set in Bucharest, Romania, Blood and Chocolate tells the story of Vivian (Agnes Bruckner), an angry young woman with a dangerous secret. Her secret is that she is a werewolf, more specifically a member of loup garoux, the group of creatures at the heart of the werewolf myth. The loup garoux are a society of shape-shifters, able to transform into either human or wolf form at will. In a departure from traditional werewolf tales, loup garoux are not affected by the full moon and a person cannot become a loup garoux even if bitten by one, it is a group into which all members are born. Headed by a man named Gabriel, the loup garoux run Bucharest from the shadows and will go to any lengths to protect their secrets.

Into this clandestine world of pack rule stumbles Aiden (Hugh Dancy), a clueless young artist with a fascination for loup garoux who falls almost instantly in love with Vivian, not realizing who and what she is. Unfortunately, Vivian is being prepared for Gabriel. Violence and danger ensue as Vivian must decide whether to remain loyal to the rules and traditions of her lineage or follow her heart.

Blood and Chocolate has an equal number of negative and positive points. Broad allusions are made to an ancient prophecy, as there always are in this kind of film, and indications that Vivian will be the one to fulfill this prophecy, but this is never fleshed out. Although the notion of loup garoux plays with traditional werewolf storylines, the film itself is steeped in clich├ęs, attempting to create an artsy, faux-intellectual air that falls flat. The producers of Blood and Chocolate were also responsible for Underworld, and it shows. One of the best things about this film, however, is the special effects. Instead of being flamboyant and fake, the special effects are subtle and well crafted. The werewolves are not CGI monsters, but actual wolves. The loup garoux are shown morphing into wolf form in a burst of light and the effect is actually quite beautiful.
Blood and Chocolate is not so much a horror film as it is a love story that just happens to include werewolves. While the plot is predictable and at times slow moving, Blood and Chocolate is an effective and even enjoyable way to kill an hour and half as long as your expectations are moderate.



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