Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Blood Chocolate |
Actors: Agnes Bruckner, Hugh Dancy, Olivier Martinez, Katja Riemann, Bryan Dick
Director: Katja von Garnier
Genres: Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy
As a young girl living in the remote mountains of Colorado, Vivian (Bruckner) watched helplessly as her family was murdered by a pack of angry men for the secret they carried in their blood. Vivian survived the attack by r... more »
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Not much blood, not much chocolate
H. Bala | Carson - hey, we have an IKEA store! - CA USA | 01/28/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"SPOILERS for the movie and the book.
I thought this movie might be in trouble when I saw the trailer weeks before its release date and the theater audience howled with derisive laughter at the trailer voice-over's oh-so-dramatic unveiling of the awkward title: "BLOOD...AND CHOCOLATE." The thing is, people who haven't read the book wouldn't get the seemingly incongruous title. In Annette Curtis Klause's 1999 Young Adult novel (read it eons ago), BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE was a metaphor for Vivian's internal struggle between her werewolf heritage (the "blood") and her desire for a human boy (the "chocolate"). Here, the "chocolate" part seemingly refers to her being employed in a chocolate shop.
But let's get to the movie plot. In contemporary Bucharest, one of the very last wolf packs on earth survives and continues to hunt. Vivian Gandillon (Agnes Bruckner) is a troubled (but hot) young werewolf, haunted by a tragic past. She revels in running thru the Romanian woods but abhors the pack's bloodcurling tendency to chase down the occasional human victim. Vivian spends her days toiling away in a chocolate shop and her nights haunting the hot Bucharest night spots. One evening, while hanging out in a desolate chapel, she has a chance encounter with Aiden (Hugh Dancy), an artist who is researching the legends of the loup garoux (werewolves) for his next graphic novel. He's interested. She is, too, but rebuffs him. He persists and she succumbs to seeing him. Of course, they fall in love. Of course, it's not quite that easy.
As per ancient custom, it seems that the leader of the werewolf pack, Gabriel (Olivier Martinez), must take a new wife every seven years and has been eyeing Vivian for his latest bride; so he's not about to let some human get in his way. Add to that the unsavory capers perpetrated by Viv's cousin Rafe (Bryan Dick) and his clique, the "Five," and the love story of Vivian and Aiden threatens to fizzle out before its time. Shades of Capulet and Montague!
I wondered if the film would be able to survive the burden of an incongruous title. Sadly...no. BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE suffers firstly from having a PG-13 rating as the movie finds itself reduced to a fangless state, with neither enough goriness nor titillation. Too, this film horribly butchers Annette Curtis Klause's popular book. Readers of the novel are bound to be disappointed and even heart-broken by all the changes made to make the feature more "Hollywood," as the book's core story is basically gutted, leaving the character names and the lycantrophic premise as the sole survivors of the wholesale alterations. Briefly, some of the things that were changed: in the movie, the story is set in Bucharest, Romania, instead of in the U.S.; in the movie, Vivian works in a chocolate shop, instead of being in high school; Vivian's mother isn't present in the film (she has a key role in the book); also, the book depicts Vivian as embracing her werewolfness; and, importantly, the natures of Gabriel and Aiden have been drastically modified.
A word to the gorehound: the film focuses more on the romantic aspect than the horror elements. In fact, I wasn't too impressed with the horror elements or the action sequences. Here, when the werewolves transform, they do so in a sterilized blur, instead of the nifty, gory and messy gradual segue from man to monster. And since these are the same producers who did UNDERWORLD, I guess they're trying to make Vivian over in Kate Beckinsale's Selene mold. But I think there are enough film babes out there who deliver these same trite action scenes. Meanwhile, the special effects are serviceable, if ho-hum.
The actors are gorgeous but prove to be inconsequential. Agnes Bruckner and Hugh Dancy have some chemistry, but their ponderous acting serves to sabotage their rapport. Olivier Martinez, to me, is just miscast for the role of the heavy. Maybe it's too hard to be villainous when you have a French accent, unless everyone in the cast is French. Or maybe Martinez is just too...lightweight.
Another drawback. I've always thought there was an element of tragedy in the werewolf mythos, of being forced to become a ravening beast against your will and losing all control and inhibition when the moon is full. But, in this movie, the moon's phase isn't much of a factor as the pack can transform at will. To me, this takes away some of the tension and part of the allure of the werewolf mythos. As well with this movie's proposition that werewolves can't infect their victims and "turn" them. You're either born a loup garou or you're not. This premise also takes away from some of the implied peril in the movie. When in a zombie, vampire, or werewolf flick, one of the biggest fears and carriers of suspense is that the viewer's favorite characters might become infected.
Now I realize that part of my lukewarm reaction to this flick is that, after all these years, I still fondly remember the book I've read. I've pretty much accepted that when a great book becomes a movie, it loses something in translation. Every now and then, you do have superb film renditions of books (TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, LORD OF THE RINGS, HARRY POTTER...) or, even in rare instances, a film that improves on the book (TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT), but mostly, we'll get efforts like BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE. So let me say this, if I haven't read the book, I probably would've rated this film higher, maybe three stars. I'm usually pretty generous and I normally enjoy supernatural/fantasy horror features. But I have read the book and anjoyed it, and I'm a bit put out that so much was changed. Add to that the fact that the film's story is rife with cliches, the dialogue is boring, and the acting is only so-so. So, two stars from me, one star because Agnes Bruckner is hot.
But, hey, at least Uwe Boll didn't direct this one, right?
Hungry Like the Wolf
Chris Pandolfi | Los Angeles, CA | 01/31/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Blood and Chocolate," despite its outward appearance as a modern-day werewolf story, seems more like a commentary on cultural understanding. This is something I initially didn't think possible, considering how classic stories like "The Wolf Man" portray werewolves as unsympathetic monsters. But on reflection, such an idea makes perfect sense: werewolves are shunned by human society due to their ravenous canine appetites, making any attempt at coexistence seem pointless and subtracting; likewise, werewolves are forced to live as outcasts merely for trying to survive. While "Blood and Chocolate" doesn't explore this theme in depth, enough is given to make the message clear to the audience. However, I can't say whether or not this makes the film good; it has some glaring flaws, most notably the fact that the entire werewolf mythos is barely developed.
Nonetheless, I'll go out on a limb and give the film four stars. I think what I found most enticing was the character of Vivian (Agnus Bruckner), who's full of teenage angst despite being in her early twenties. The film begins ten years ago in Denver, Colorado, where we see Vivian's parents murdered by a heavily armed group of men. We have yet to understand why such a terrible thing has happened; all we're initially told is that, in the present day, she lives in Romania with her aunt, Astrid (Katja Riemann). We also learn that she's a Rougarou--another term for a werewolf--the descendent of a long line of canine hunters. Contrary to popular belief, Rougarous are not affected by the full moon, and they have complete control over when and where they transform.
Unfortunately, being a Rougarou has its drawbacks, the most obvious one being they have to hide their true natures from the human population. They're also a traditional race of beings, adhering strictly to the belief that werewolves can only be romantically involved with werewolves. The reason is simple: if involved with a human, a Rougarou risks exposure and the possibility of extinction. But for Vivian, these rigid restrictions pale in comparison to the belief that she's mentioned in an ancient prophesy. Apparently, she will one day lead Rougarous into a new age of hope, free from the fear, pain, and hopelessness they've had to endure. Because of this, her future has already been planned; she's been chosen to be the mate of Gabriel (Olivier Martinez), the current leader of the pack. (I found this a little odd; Gabriel is also Astrid's lover, and their son is Vivian's cousin. Is incest always necessary in such stories?)
As you may have surmised, Vivian is a free spirit, and she views her current life as nothing but a prison. Her only escape is running around the local park, which is clearly symbolic of running away from her problems. She will never accept Gabriel, especially since she's expected to do so. But despite her convictions, she's weary of the unknown, which is exactly what she sees in Aiden (Hugh Dancy), an American graphic novelist. There's a definite attraction at work here, made stronger by the fact that Aiden also comes from a strict family that had expectations. When they meet, Vivian smiles for the first time, which, under these circumstances, is always indicative of someone trying to find his or her place; she may physically belong to a pack of superhuman creatures, but her mind and heart are unbounded.
Of course, Gabriel finds this unacceptable. So does his son, Rafe (Bryan Dick), who's so arrogant and hotheaded that one can't help but hate him. Moments between him and Vivian are always tense, and they're made worse by his consistently condescending attitude. Both he and his father vow to rid themselves of Aiden, not only for Vivian's own good, but for the good of the entire Rougarou species, as well. Unfortunately, they have yet to understand that Aiden is quite capable of defending himself (thanks to being raised by an abusive father).
As the film builds to a climax, Vivian's emotions are running higher than they've ever run: is she to remain loyal to her own kind, or is she to find happiness with an outsider she truly cares about? I found this dilemma interesting, especially since it's utilized in a werewolf story; she and Aiden may be of a different species, but that doesn't mean that she's incapable of showing him love. She also recognizes that Gabriel's hatred for humanity is fueled by fear. This is shown in a scene involving a ritual, one in which a human is forced to run through the forest while being chased by werewolves. If the human can make it to a river, his or her life will be spared (but it won't be easy; the human is cut before he or she runs, and the smell of blood drives the wolves crazy).
Such barbaric treatment brings the film's message out into the open: if there's to be any hope for a new beginning amongst Rougarous, such negative emotions have to be set aside. I'm sure some of you are thinking that I'm looking at "Blood and Chocolate" too closely; isn't it just a supernatural thriller about werewolves? Maybe so, but I'd like to think there's something more to it, something that can be cleverly disguised as a meaningless movie. I see it as a story of identity and acceptance, of tolerance and existence. While none of these qualities make for a particularly original story, at least they make for a more satisfying experience at the movie theater."
Blood and Chocolate...**spoiler**
C. Davis | Oklahoma, USA | 06/17/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"When I was in High school, I found Blood and Chocolate on the book shelf of the library and thought it had interesting name, so I read it. I loved it, and didn't want to give it back to the library. It was such an interesting and unique book, that I wanted it, and wound up getting my mom to buy it for me.
When I saw several years down the line that they were making a movie from it, I was so excited! I wanted to see it in theaters, but wasn;t able to and just today I got it off of netflix and watched it with my husband. I was very dissapointed in it, (though he liked it quite a bit more than I did).
Yes, it does give a nice new spin on werewolves, which I did enjoy. But I started watching it expecting something a LOT closer to the story than this. They turned a story of teenage angst and struggle for acceptance both of herself and with others, into a Hollywood cliche.
While the characters are similar, the movie is set in a totally different country than in the book, and Vivian lost her parents in the movie, while in the book, her mother plays an important role. So many differences! The only thing it appears is still the same in both the book and the movie, is that they are werewolves, Vivian falls in love with a human, and Gabriel wants her to be his mate. A few other similarities do occur, though they are minor, and the changes in the story make these similarities hard to recognize.
I did enjoy the movie, don't get me wrong, and I would have loved it if I hadn;t read the book first. The lack of gore and greusome tranformation was actually rather a nice change to me, but dangit, I wanted to see the fight for dominanace that is in the book, the passage that Vivian went through from girl to woman. Her final acceptance of who she is, and the acceptance of the pack for who she is. I wanted to see the book I love put to life.
After watching the movie, I went to find my old beat up copy of the book, only to see that I had lost it, so if some of my comparisons are inaccurate, please forgive me, but I do know for a fact that this movie was not the real Blood and Chocolate, just a very expensive knock-off."
A Paranormal Flop
Lauren Johnson | Santa Clara, CA USA | 04/28/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I was really excited about seeing this movie when I heard what it was about. I was expecting something fantastic because the plot sounded really good and creative. However, when I finally got to see the movie I was extremely disappointed in the quality of the production. I think the only thing I really enjoyed was the detail displayed in the gothic like scenery and I didn't think they did that bad of a job turning humans into wolves. Although, with all of the technological advances of the day, I think they could have had something more impressive. Overall, I don't think this movie is worth owning and it disappointed me."