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Movie Review

Ten years after a horrible tragedy that took her parents, young Vivian is living with her Aunt Astrid and her cousin Rafe in Bucharest, Romania. She helps her aunt with a small chocolate business and lives a quiet life. In fact, her new family and the whole pack that they're a part of keep a low profile because they're all loup-garou, or what humans would call werewolves. They fear that the world would hunt them to extinction if they realized that half-human-half-wolves still existed.

One night, Vivian retreats to the peace of an empty, ancient church and finds Aiden, an American graphic artist, drawing sketches there. Although Vivian tries to stay aloof to avoid any outside connections, she finds herself torn between protecting the werewolf community and following her heart. Against her better judgment and the wishes of her pack (Rafe spread the word about the American) she and Aiden fall in love. She wonders if a human and a loup-garou can find happiness together. Especially since the leader of the werewolf pack (Gabriel) wants Vivian for his mate.

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Positive Elements

Vivian and Aiden both believe that the strength of their love will see them through, no matter what the obstacles. Vivian protects Aiden several times from the stronger, more athletic loup-garou. For example, she locks him behind an enclosed gateway while she fights off pack members, and another time, in wolf form, she attacks a much larger wolf. Aiden does all he can to protect his lady and obtains a rifle with silver bullets to rescue her. In the end, Vivian uses that same rifle to kill a vicious attacking wolf.

Aunt Astrid is persuaded, for the sake of love, to help Vivian and Aiden, in spite of the personal risk to her from the pack.

Spiritual Content

This being a movie about werewolves, there is an obvious spiritual component to the human-to-wolf-and-back-again transformations. The pack of loup-garou has certain ceremonies and prophesies that they honor and protect with what suggests religious parallels. For instance, they gather together and kneel before Gabriel, waiting for him to preach. And one of their prophesies predicts that a female from the bloodline of leaders will ascend to leadership and guide the pack to a new age of hope. (Gabriel believes this refers to Vivian.)

Vivian and Aiden first meet in a cathedral-sized church. And later Aiden is confronted by Rafe in a small chapel decorated with skulls and bones.

Sexual Content

Aunt Astrid shows some cleavage in a few scenes and in one is wrapped in nothing but a sheet. Vivian wears a midriff revealing top. A girl at a party dances provocatively in a close-fitting dress that accentuates her curves and the fact that she is not wearing a bra. (The camera ogles openly.) She entices Rafe and he walks up and grabs her undulating bottom. She immediately pushes him off with what appears to be a grab at his crotch and the words, "In your dreams." Later in the evening, the same girl is at home when she hears a noise and walks to her window while dressed in lingerie.

During the pack hunts, a number of the young men remove their shirts. And after a battle in which several of the wolves are killed, we see a distant shot of young men who are curled naked on the ground in a fetal position. The wolf version of Vivian is injured, too, and she transforms back to human form in that same fetal position. Aiden then covers her with his shirt and carries her out of the woods.

Aiden and Vivian kiss passionately in several scenes.

Violent Content

Wolves are shot. Humans are shot at. Fights are frequent.

The movie begins with Vivian (about 9 years old) and her family being attacked in their home by three armed men. Her father opens the front door and is shot in the chest. Mother and girls run back into the house. The mom is shot, but the two sisters escape. The men find them outside, however, shooting Vivian's sister and sending two rottweilers after little Vivian.

A young woman is startled when Rafe and his buddies stalk her in an alleyway, jumping around on the beams overhead. She makes it home, but Rafe mysteriously appears in her room, turns into a wolf (real wolves were used in shooting the film) and then we see a few quick shots of her lying on the floor with blood covering her nightgown.

When a drug dealer is brought before the werewolf pack, members slice his arm with a knife and send him running off into the woods with the possibility of freedom if he reaches the river. After a few moments, the pack gives chase, transforms into wolf form and drags the man down to kill him. (Thankfully, this scene is seen from a distance and there's no gore shown.) In like manner, Aiden is brought bound before the werewolf pack, has his arm cut and is sent into the woods. However, Aiden realizes that the blood from his cut is drawing the pack and he rubs his bleeding arm on trees before doubling back. He has procured a silver knife and uses it to stab and kill several of the wolves.

In wolf form, Vivian and Gabriel bite and rip at each other. Rafe lures Aiden to a chapel where the two fight. After a brief battle of violent shoves, head butts and punches, Rafe turns into a wolf and rips a confessional apart to reach a fleeing Aiden. Before it's over the young artist and the wolf plunge off a balcony to the floor below. What happens next involves blood, pain ... and death.

Crude or Profane Language

God's name is profaned a couple of times in combination with "d--n." And Jesus' name is misused once. There are also a half-dozen or so uses of the word "h---." And half that many exclamations of "b--ch."

Drug and Alcohol Content

There are several party or bar scenes where we see shelves stocked with bottles of alcohol while young people drink mixed drinks and throw back shots. Bottles of absinthe are destroyed by gunfire, alcohol pouring down on Aiden. He and Vivian escape before the place goes up in flames. A man joins Gabriel in his private bar area and the two men drink a shot of absinthe. Aiden's father is referenced as an "addict."

Other Negative Elements

When Aiden and Vivian first meet, she enters the church through an open upper window, but Aiden speaks of "breaking in." Trespassing transgressions are coupled with stealing as Aiden lifts silverware and clothing.

Conclusion

Advertisements have made certain that moviegoers know Blood and Chocolate is presented by the producers of Underworld. Hoping, I'm sure, to snag some of that Romeo-and-Juliet-in-the-land-of-monsters fan base. But there are no powerful opposing clans of vampires and werewolves this time around, only a small group of lycanthropes in Romania. They've been hiding out and holding a grudge against humankind for 5,000 years and they're not about to allow some upstart teenage werewolf to intermarry with a skinny human graphic artist. No matter how many comic books he's drawn about them.

But one more twist on a well-worn star-crossed lovers' tale isn't all that Blood could have been. The real drama of the story is Vivian's struggle to come to grips with her animal and human sides. Her pack gathers regularly for the excitement of blood lust, but Vivian shows up for the thrill of running free as a wolf, not the kill. Her connection to Aiden is an extension of her desire to break away from the curse of the pack and find her own way, her own passions.

Director Katja von Garnier, unfortunately, doesn't help us struggle with her, setting up the possibilities but falling short and relying on tired monster-movie clichés and silver bullets to wrap things up. That why I cared more about the well-being of the scared little girl running from the hunters at the beginning of the movie than I did for anyone else in the rest of it.

To the movie's credit, there's some nice CGI as the leaping humans turn magically into wolves. And the over-the-top blood and gore usually associated with this genre has been cut down to PG-13 size. That's a better-, but certainly not a best-case scenario. Especially since while draining some of that blood, excitement and engagement levels drop, too.

So, with a title that elicits more chuckles than interest, Blood and Chocolate ends up living up to it. It's 100 minutes of guys tossing back drinks, posturing and fighting, wolves running through the woods and a pretty (wolf) girl who wins the day, but not what she really wants.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

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Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

PG-13

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Agnes Bruckner as Vivian; Hugh Dancy as Aiden; Olivier Martinez as Gabriel; Bryan Dick as Rafe; Katja Riemann as Astrid

Director

Katja von Garnier ( )

Distributor

MGM

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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