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Dustin Putman


Dustin's Review
Learn more about this film on IMDb!Blood and Chocolate  (2007)
 Star
Directed by Katja von Garnier
Cast: Agnes Bruckner, Hugh Dancy, Olivier Martinez, Katja Riemann, Bryan Dick, Chris Geere, Tom Harper, John Kerr, Jack Wilson, Vitalie Ursu, Bogdan Voda, Kata Dobo
2007 – 98 minutes
Rated: Rated PG-13 (for violence, some sexuality and substance abuse).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, January 26, 2007.
How fitting that a movie entitled "Blood and Chocolate" has virtually no blood and only fleeting glimpses of chocolate. The film is a tamer than tame, lamer than lame werewolf melodrama, edited down to a PG-13 rating to appease a teen audience who will alternately laugh and yawn their way through the running time. Doing for lycanthropes what 2006's "The Covenant" did for warlocks—that is to say, not much but debase the subject matter—"Blood and Chocolate" has no idea what it is or what it wants to be. The horror element is so underutilized that it barely is there at all, while the love story at its center is a giant failure thanks to nondescript writing and dull actors who are one step away from catatonia.

Ever since she unintentionally caused the deaths of her family as a child, mournful werewolf Vivian (Agnes Bruckner) has lived with her aunt, Astrid (Katja Riemann), in the bustling European city of Bucharest, Romania. Now a teenager working as a chocolatier, Vivian is kept a close eye on by her powerful uncle, Gabriel (Olivier Martinez), and his possessive son, Rafe (Bryan Dick), a fact that causes major discord for all involved when she begins to fall for Aiden (Hugh Dancy). He is an American graphic artist looking for inspiration in his foreign surroundings, and becomes smitten with Vivian the second he meets her. Before they can run off into the sunset, however, Vivian must come clean about her animalistic identity. If that weren't enough, Aiden becomes the planned main course of Gabriel's next meal when, during an attack, he kills Rafe in self-defense.

Working from a muddled script by Ehren Kruger (2005's "The Brothers Grimm") and Christopher Landon that one suspects has bastardized and cheapened its source material beyond recognition (it's based on a novel by Annette Curtis Klause), "Blood and Chocolate" is directed with a generic lack of inspiration by Katja von Garnier. The story, at least what there is of one, is dreadfully established, as are the werewolves themselves. Full moon be damned, they can transform at will and in broad daylight. In lieu of makeup effects or even morphing CGI, they turn instantly into animals via a bright flash of light that must have gone well with the chintzy budget. Their attacks mostly occur offscreen, shredding the film of whatever pleasures it might have had, and when they do feed on humans it amounts to little more than clothes-biting and an abrupt fade to black.

Since scares apparently weren't at the top of director Katja von Garnier's to-do list, it is up to the picture's romance to capture the viewer's interest and sympathy. Sadly, Vivian and Aiden are humongous bores, both individually and as a couple. Sparkless and robotic, they go through the motions with barely a pulse. When they kiss for the first time, it does not create the spirited feeling of two people falling in love, but of performers who can't stand the sight of each other and are being forced at gunpoint to lock lips. Agnes Bruckner (2005's "Venom") has been good in the past, but one would never know it by watching her cold, uncharismatic portrayal of Vivian. As Aiden, Hugh Dancy (2004's "Ella Enchanted") is only a little better, unable to do much with a character who remains half-formed and absent of motivation. Finally, Olivier Martinez (2004's "Taking Lives") is the stock lead villain Gabriel, snarling his lip as his sole means of showing disdain.

Literally the only thing "Blood and Chocolate" has going for it is some picturesque location shooting in Romania. If the exterior cityscapes of Bucharest are pretty to look at, the film they are in is anything but. As a standard werewolf movie, there is no exploration into the pasts or lifestyles of the creatures, nor in regard to what makes them tick. As a thriller, any sense of tension or danger is missing in action. Instead, "Blood and Chocolate" is content to slog its way through an uneventful, clichéd and sophomoric plot that moves at the speed of frozen molasses and exhibits the imagination of an unborn fetus. All things considered, a more appropriate title would have been "Oil and Water."
© 2007 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

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