This film was previously reviewed in October 2020 as part of our London Film Festival coverage.

Everyone daydreams of life in the skies, taking wing and soaring through the clouds. But let’s be real, it’s cold and boring up there. Wolfwalkers knows the truth: those down on the ground have all the fun. In their latest mesmerising animation, Cartoon Saloon make lupine life look sublime—every sound a new adventure, every scent a new horizon to explore. Wolf packs flow like water, chasing, playing, and snoozing in a tangle of tessellated bliss. Sleeping in a cave has never been quite so enticing.

Wolfwalkers brings the studio back to home turf. What follows is a fairly straightforward story, taken into the stratosphere by the telling. Wolfwalkers is a late morning flicking through the most delightful picture book, with an orchestra in your living room creating a matching soundscape just for you. This team has a gift for creating the most inviting spaces, and the forests of Kilkenny are no different—which makes it all the more maddening when Oliver Cromwell rides in to tear them down. Wolfwalkers pulls no punches in its damnation of this puritanical piss-pot and the English desecration of the Irish countryside and its traditions.

All this sentiment for the setting papers over a few cracks in the plaster: characters are one-dimensional, and some performances are a little on the flat side. These are common pitfalls of child-friendly animation, but ones Cartoon Saloon normally avoid. That being said, the standout character—Eva Whittaker’s Mabh, a young wolfwalker—is a feral delight. 

Wolfwalkers weaves a sweet, simplistic tale of two daughters from equally ferocious worlds. While it may not reach the high bar set by their early work, Cartoon Saloon is just more proof that there’s life beyond the walls, and we don’t need to limit ourselves to the offerings of the animated studio behemoths.



CAST: Sean Bean, Honor Kneafsey, Eva Whittaker 

DIRECTORS: Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart

WRITERS: Will Collins (screenplay), Tomm Moore & Ross Stewart (story), Jericca Cleland (story and script consultant)

SYNOPSIS: A young apprentice hunter and her father journey to Ireland to help wipe out the last wolf pack. But everything changes when she befriends a free-spirited girl from a mysterious tribe rumored to transform into wolves by night.