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Blood & Chocolate (2007)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 6/12/2007
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/11/2007
When I told my wife that we were watching Blood & Chocolate, she said, "Is that the one with the chocolatier who kills people?” This statement proves two things: 1. My wife has a very vivid imagination, as I have no idea what movie she’s talking about (although, I’d like to see it); and 2. Blood & Chocolate didn’t receive very much publicity during its brief theatrical run earlier this year. Now that the movie has come to DVD, will it become a household name, or continue to dwell in obscurity?
Blood & Chocolate opens in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, where we see a family ambushed by armed men. As the house burns, one lone girl escapes the carnage.
The story then jumps ahead 10 years, and the action have moved to Bucharest, Romania. There, we meet Vivian (Agnes Bruckner) and learn that she was the girl from the opening. Vivian is part of a pack of werewolves, who live in secret in the city, hunting only when they need to. Vivian has been chosen to be the new wife of the pack's leader, Gabriel (Olivier Martinez), who runs an absinthe factory. While out one night, Vivian meets an artist named Aiden (Hugh Dancy), who has come to Romania to research werewolves for his latest graphic novel. Despite the fact that the werewolves aren't supposed to interact with humans, Vivian is attracted to this young man. Vivian's cousin, Rafe (Bryan Dick), learns of this and tells Olivier. Soon, the werewolves are out to get Aiden. Will Vivian remain true to her pack, or follow her feelings for Aiden?
Blood & Chocolate is one of those movies where I watched the entire film, and paid attention the whole time, and still was never exactly sure about everything that was happening. The fact that Vivian must marry Gabriel is vague, save for the fact that the movie tells us that he takes a new wife every 7 years. Vivian lives with her aunt, Astrid (Katja Riemann), but the story of how she got to Romania from America is never fleshed out. The rules and ethics of the wolf pack is kept far too simple and we never learn exactly why the love between Vivian and Aiden is verboten, save for the fact that werewolves don't like humans. (Is this supposed to represent interracial relationships?)
I knew from the press material that Blood & Chocolate was based on a novel. While watching the movie, I thought, "I guess the people who read the book understand all of this." Quick trip to Amazon and I see that...nope, the people familiar with the novel probably didn't get the movie. The book opens in West Virginia and Vivian's family is forced to move to Maryland. Maryland, Romania? No, Maryland Maryland. In the novel, Vivian is 16 (not 19 as in the film), as it appears that the action is set against the politics of high school.
Why the changes? I don't know. My guess relates to the fact that so many movies are shot in Romania, and the filmmakers decided to take advantage of all of the beautiful architecture in Bucharest, which they do. Director Katja von Garnier has done a fine job of giving the movie a good look, but everything else in the movie falls apart. Agnes Bruckner is an attractive woman, but she listless here and brings very little to the role. The real weak link in the film is Bryan Dick as the villainous Rafe. The guy looks like he should be in a Brit-pop band and he's never intimidating. Speaking of which, the werewolves (while in human form) like to run and then hop a lot. This looked much more silly than scary. As for the werewolves themselves, in this film, they simply transform into wolves. Some may like that approach, but I want my monsters to look like monsters.
The screenplay for Blood & Chocolate was written by Ehren Kruger (who also executive produced) who is a very talented writer, and whose scripts such as Arlington Road, Reindeer Games, and The Skeleton Key are all about the story and plot twists. Thus, it's surprising that he is behind this shallow, confusing, and boring film. The movie wants to be a romantic-thriller set in a supernatural world, but the result is a movie that, like Vivian, can't function in either world. In retrospect, I really wish that I could have seen that movie that my wife imagined.
Blood & Chocolate shape-shits onto DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The DVD contains both the widesceen and full-frame version of the movie. For the purposes of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image looks good, as the picture is sharp and clear, showing no distracting grain or defects from the source material. Overall, the movie has a dark look, but the action is always visible and the transfer is well-balanced. Colors look good, especially the reds and greens. I did not some subtle artifacting at times. The DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which sound great. The dialogue and sound effects are fine, as is the film's score. The film's sound design comes through quite well here, as the stereo, surround, and subwoofer effects lend a much-needed kick to the action scenes.
The Blood & Chocolate DVD only contains two extra features. Director Katja von Garnier and actor Olivier Martinez provide an AUDIO COMMENTARY for the film. This is a dull track, as neither sound very excited to be there, and Martinez rarely speaks. Garnier does an OK job of giving scene-specific comments, but her talk is often vague, and she doesn't delve enough into things like casting or the script. The other extra are 15 DELETED SCENES, which run about 12 minutes. All of these are brief and they were clearly cut for the pacing of the film.
Review Copyright 2007 by Mike Long