In addition to horror cinema, the animation genre is currently at the forefront of driving USA cinema forward again. In addition to numerous large-scale productions, there is also the Australian-Belgian CGI adventure 100% WOLF at the start, but unfortunately it is only recommended to a limited extent. We reveal more about this in our review.
OT: 100% Wolf (AUS/BEL 2020)
Freddy Lupine is no ordinary boy, but comes from a family of proud werewolves. He can’t wait to transform for the first time – like his famous father, the former leader of the werewolf pack. But on the night of his 14th birthday, when it’s finally supposed to happen, something terrible happens: Freddy turns not into a strong and fearsome wolf, but into a tiny… poodle! What a drama. Freddy is chased into the street by his uncle and, in his greatest need, meets the clever street dog Batty. Together with her, he plunges into a turbulent adventure and ends up in a dog kennel. But he will prove that despite his fluffy exterior, he is 100% wolf inside.
Director Alexs Stadermann learned his animation craft not only from the best, but also from the ground up. Before he directed his first CGI series episodes (“No Cookie for Goblins”) in 2012 and presented his first feature film “Maya the Bee – The Movie” in 2014, he worked as an animator for the Disney company from 1995 to 2007. In this technical sector, for example, he was involved in cult series such as “Goofy & Max” and “The Adventures of Timon and Pumbaa”. Years later he was responsible for the Australian department of such Disney films as “The Jungle Book 2” and “The Lion King 3”. Now we don’t want to make any assumptions about why Stadermann’s directing career had to do without the involvement of the Maushaus. It is still striking: from the moment the filmmaker himself sat down in the director’s chair, Disney disappeared from his CV. Unfortunately, these films have hardly caused a stir to this day; In view of the dubious reinterpretation of the animated classic “Maya the Bee”, quite the opposite. Both “Maya the Bee – The Movie” and the sequel “Maya the Bee – The Honey Games” (a third film is planned for early 2022) did not fare well with the press. And if you look at the current value on the online film rating platform Rotten Tomatoes, the audience felt no different. Stadermann’s new film is doing better overall. Maybe also because you can’t accuse him of working on a popular template. And at least in terms of content, “100% Wolf” cuts a much better figure.
Freddy, here still in human form, and his beloved werewolf dad.
The decidedly action-packed opening of “100% Wolf” catapults the (presumably mainly young) audience directly into the action and explains the twisted world in which – compared to pretty much all other werewolf films designed for an adult audience where we are: In “100% Wolf” the people who transform into wolves under the moonlight are rescuers on a secret mission. The first scene, for example, shows a burning house from which the father of the protagonist Freddy Lupine and his pack mates free the people trapped inside. The fact that the wolves are not allowed to show themselves during these actions makes the whole thing more difficult. However, the reason for this is obvious and immediately introduces the modern message: Anyone who would see the werewolves on their rescue missions would probably be put off by the fact that these are werewolves (perceived by the general public as evil), perhaps even open the hunt for them. The message that you shouldn’t be put off by a person’s appearance, but that it’s what’s inside that counts, runs like a common thread through “100% Wolf” and despite all the lack of subtlety – after all, the message is intended primarily for young people Reaching viewers – not nearly as hackneyed as the classic “Believe in yourself, then you can do anything!” moral. So it’s not so much the content that’s not convincing about the Australian-Belgian (!) co-production; A realization that makes the overall weak impression of “100% Wolf” all the more disappointing. Because the staging is the problem here.
“The message that you shouldn’t be put off by a person’s appearance, but that what’s inside counts, runs like a common thread through “100% Wolf” and is despite all the lack of subtlety – after all, the message is supposed to be above all Reaching young viewers – not nearly as hackneyed as the classic “Believe in yourself, then you can do anything!” moral.”
The opening, which is still far too exciting for viewers who are too small, not only sums up part of the message directly, when the werewolves have to go about their day’s work as invisibly as possible due to human prejudices alone. It is also symptomatic of the extremely hectic visuals through which “100% Wolf” never comes to rest. Even in the quiet, even sad moments (we have to say goodbye to an important character in the first 10 minutes) the dominant, bright color aesthetic seems inappropriate. And when it comes to the action sequences, so much happens on the big screen that you no longer know where to look. “100% Wolf” is a ninety-minute sugar shock. And the fact that the numerous characters – whether four-legged or two-legged – are extremely similar in their attitudes could sometimes even make it difficult for a young audience to distinguish the characters at all. It’s very clever that the wolf poodle Lupin is blessed with a pink forelock. This not only inspires the “looks don’t matter!” morale again when Lupine is repeatedly asked about his hair, even in a derogatory way. This external feature automatically puts Lupine in the foreground. So in this hustle and bustle of screens you at least have a striking, recurring factor that gives you a bit of an overview.
On his journey to becoming a real werewolf, Lupine meets numerous new companions.
The 3D animation style itself is also not convincing. They make no secret of the fact that the creative people behind “100% Wolf” never aim to keep up visually with the big players in animated cinema – something that would hardly be possible anyway given the significantly lower budget. And yet the visual design of the film often just seems unfinished. The backgrounds lack detail and movement, the drawing of the characters is always based on a certain feature (the scary-looking werewolves, the cute Lupin…), but lacks any subtlety. “100% Wolf” would just about fulfill the charm of a modern animated series (how fitting: there is now actually an animated series based on the film), but the minimalist style that no longer fits the visual zeitgeist is simply lost on the screen. Admittedly, such deductions in the B grade will hardly bother an audience whose age group a film like “100% Wolf” is made for. And due to its – to put it diplomatically – entertaining production, there is hardly any chance of boredom in the cinema. The villain and ice cream seller Foxwell Cripp, dubbed in USA to match his appearance by Kurt Krömer, is unlikely to cause serious fear due to his whimsy, but will entertain adult viewers in particular. His villain habitus is simply brilliantly funny – and his villain motivation is even surprising. They are small bright spots in a film that otherwise falls far, far short of its potential. And that’s ultimately much more disappointing than a film that doesn’t show any potential at all.
“’100% Wolf’ is a ninety-minute sugar shock. And the fact that the numerous characters – whether four-legged or two-legged – have no special attitude whatsoever could sometimes make it difficult for a young audience to even distinguish between the characters.
Conclusion: Normally it’s the other way around, but the 3D animated film “100% Wolf” impresses with its clear, contemporary morality, which, however, disappears far behind the strenuous, loveless production.
“100% Wolf” can be seen in USA cinemas from July 1st.