Sunday, March 11, 2007

Blood and Chocolate


From the producers of Underworld, this movie looks like a cheap cousin to the popular wolves versus vampires movie starring Kate Beckinsale. Based on a book by Annette Curtis Klause, and directed by Katja von Garnier, it's difficult not to draw comparisons because of the subject material and similar themes, this time though doing without the vampires, and sets the spotlight firmly on a group of hunted werewolves called the Loups-Garoux. Sexy sounding, but essentially a useless name for useless beings.

The group of Loups-Garoux proudly stands by their tradition of being able to transform into wolves at will (and that is their only power mind you), and because of their abilities and lust for blood, they are hunted down by Men with their guns and silver bullets (who and what else). In order to survive persecution, they go underground and keep their identities secret, only to come out during the night for frequent partying at rave clubs (and to pick up chicks), as well as attending strange rituals such as gathering in the woods to partake in hunter-prey chases with wounded men as victims.

In essence, they're a bunch of self-preserving cowards who hunt in packs, believing whole-heartedly that unity is strength. As mentioned, they got unimpressive abilities which probably forces them to do so, not by choice - only remarkable agility and the preference to scale walls and run along rooftops. Led by an uninspiring, cowardly leader Gabriel (Kylie Minogue's ex Olivier Martinez), he holds on to the unexplained hokey prophecy as well as the tradition of the leader of the pack to handpick a wolf-maiden to bed every 7 years. No wonder he's holding onto power without the necessity to do much to further their cause (which is?), and sets his sights on marrying Vivian (Agnes Bruckner).

Vivian however, being the headstrong ingenue, falls for a plain human, graphic novelist Aiden (Hugh Dancy), and this is where references to Underworld come into full swing. The reluctance in the formation of a forbidden relationship from the girl with secrets, the revenge killings and the hunting down of Aiden, and with Vivian protecting her love, all reeks with familiarity. While Underworld had a rich backstory created for its characters and beings, Blood and Chocolate failed to have anything interesting in either wolf or man to engage the audience.

And the execution here is painfully boring. No special effects, not even the baring of fangs, save for coloured contact lenses. It's relatively low-budgeted, and the transformation of man to beast, is so cheap, even a 10 year old kid with a no-frills video editing software will be able to achieve. Fights are confined to chases between wolves and man, and the usual scruffy fisticuffs. Don't forget the loopholes galore too after transformation, which is seldom seen onscreen as it'll pose more questions.

The only redeeming grace however, is the on-location filming in the streets of Bucharest, a beautiful romantic place, totally ideal for a romanticized tale of man-beasts. The soundtrack too had a tinge of hindi(?!) music influences, which I totally enjoyed, but too bad, the film had been intrinsically destroyed by a lack of a strong storyline, plagued with non charismatic and weak villains with zero diabolical plans, with preference to hang around and do nothing, save for showing off their pitiful skills (which I suspect is because of the lack of budget).

With a strange title, Blood and Chocolate correctly named itself - a weird and silly mix which doesn't go down well at all. Only watch it on disc if you've got time to spare.

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