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The winter wolves


Script written by Mark Kelly  | Review by Antonio Rozich 

[dropcap]In[/dropcap] the last few decades, animated movies have had a new spring; a certain revival with Pixar leading the pack. This especially goes for the Western animation which is tightly followed by the development of technological possibilities. Besides the technological development, another more subtle change that followed is the story concept. In the early years of Disney, heroes were mostly either humans or animals who faced a certain problem that would get resolved at the end – the classic Syd Field story paradigm: setup, confrontation, resolution.

When Pixar entered the scene with Toy Story in the 90’s it pretty much followed the same concept, but with every new movie they added something new – certain twists. You could say the foundation stayed the same, but the setup was starting to differ. We were also introduced to cars, robots, monsters, and all other fascinating creatures as our new animated heroes. Give it a decade or two, and currently, we’re in the age which strongly differentiates from the time Snow White, Simba, Dalmatians and such were our childhood heroes. This is a natural progression of animation, but it would seem the time is coming when the classic animation concept is experiencing a revival of its own.

And speaking of it, here we have a script that might just become the leader of the pack titled The Winter Wolves by Mark Kelly (the wolf pun intended). With his story about a pack of wolves fighting for their territory and overcoming personal obstacles, Kelly decided to pay homage to the golden age of Disney. Each character in the story has their personal trait that makes them stand out from the rest. So you have Blackjack as your classical young hero who only cares about himself at the beginning, but as the story progresses he learns to care about others. Then you have Hickory and Lobo as the wise and experienced characters who have the tendency to be harsh but are well-intended. You also have your main antagonist One-eye as the selfish villain who’ll stop at nothing to get what he wants and the side characters that make the entire story more dynamic.

Now, you might think to yourself: “Wait, why do we need another Lion King?” We discussed earlier how we’re in this age of constant change, which is good, but let’s be honest – sometimes it can get tiresome. So wouldn’t you say it’s about time we have a classic, well-rounded story in the world of animation? No complex emotional games which more than often end up with that “trying-too-hard” feeling. No plot-twists with the intention of avoiding cliché moments, that in an ironic way became a cliché on its own. A simple warm story that is both for the children and grown-ups.

The Winter Wolves is just that as it doesn’t try too hard, but at the same time, it provides more than enough; easily relatable characters, a strong plot with its “setup, confrontation, resolution” concept, and a good sense of humor we just can’t get enough of.

If you look at the past few years, you’ll notice how we didn’t have a simple animated movie hitting the big screens for a very long time, so why not? All the movie needs to have is the before-mentioned elements and you’ve got yourself a great animated movie intended for a wide audience. No experiments and no risks; just a rounded-up movie that will put a smile on your face when you leave the theater. A break if you will from all the complexity.

Don’t take me wrong, I’m not trying to say what we currently have is bad; it’s actually the best thing that could have happened to the mainstream animation. I’m just saying the pot could use a stir, an adding of something new, yet well-known. You know the feeling when you come back to something you love but have been away from for a long time? It can be anything – from a place, person, to a simple meal or a drink. The Winter Wolves is exactly that in the terms of animation and it would sure be good to get back to that beautiful feeling if only for a while.

There’s no sense in wasting your time in the past, but retrieving an old, beloved feeling and even sharing it with those who never experienced it is something that’s worthwhile. And most importantly, it’s something that can help us build a better future; if for nothing else, then for the sake of the animated art. The Winter Wolves fulfills every aspect to become the new leader of the old pack. The pack whose main goal is to further develop the animation by making sure the old idea meets the new. And finally, the pack that’s here to simply make sure the audience has a good time.


While he isn’t writing for Cult Critic, Antonio Rozich is working as a copywriter for a filmmaking startup called Try Cinema. Besides his usual copywriting, he also helps filmmakers with their screenplays by editing them and finding the ways to improve the initial filmmaker’s idea. When all of that is done, he turns to his true & original love: writing flash fiction, which he posts regularly on his site Syeta Stories.



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