"If you cared about me, you would have left before I met you"
When it comes to monster movies, the only creature that gets the short shrift more than the werewolf is the Gill-Man. There are dozens of great vampire movies, a bushel of great zombie movies, and about three great werewolf movies. Poor Gill just has the one great film and two sub-par sequels.
As for the werewolf's lot, he's got about three great ones: the original The Wolf Man with Lon Chaney Jr, Dog Soldiers and An American Werewolf in London. (I leave it as an exercise to the forums to decide if The Howling is a great movie).
There have been some cool movies with werewolves in them, like Underworld, but the wolves weren't the headline act. I mention that movie in specific, because the producers behind it have brought us a new werewolf movie, based on a popular book. Sadly, it isn't going to expand the list of great werewolf movies.
When I watched Underworld, it seemed pretty obvious to me that the writers and director sympathized with the werewolves. They were cool, wrongly persecuted, and the vampires were pricks, aside from Kate Beckinsale. So I can't say I'm surprised that they jumped at the chance to make Blood and Chocolate. It should have been great. However, while watching Underworld, did you happen to think to yourself "This movie is great, except it needs more soap opera, fewer scares, and less action?" If so, then I have got some great news: Blood and Chocolate was made just for you.
Blood and Chocolate is the story of Vivian (Agnes "Venom" Bruckner), a girl from Romania. When she was a baby, her family moved to the U.S. When she was a child, her parents died and she was sent back to be raised by her aunt Astrid. Now a young adult, she works in a chocolate shop.
Oh, and everyone in her family is a werewolf. She is also believed to be the girl of an ancient prophecy, one that will lead her pack into a new age of peace. Part of this entails that she marries Gabriel (Olivier "S.W.A.T." Martinez), the head of the werewolf pack. Naturally, she is reluctant to do this, but doesn't see any way out.
There's also stress within the pack between Gabriel and his son Rafe (Bryan "Master and Commander" Dick), leader of the young men of the group and the expected to heir to Gabriel. He's your typical young hothead who flaunts the rules, and has a set of mismatched eyes that make him visually interesting, even if his character is the standard young bravo cliche.
After all the standard set-up, into Vivian's life comes Aiden (Hugh "King Arthur" Dancy). He's an American graphic novelist (as he stresses) who has come to base his latest story on the local legends of the loup-garou. As for why the Eastern Europeans are using the French word for werewolf is left as something for the audience to figure out. Regardless, Aiden meets Vivian, and after the obligatory resisting, they fall in love via montage. Of course, Rafe and the rest of the pack disapprove.
From here we get the standard Romeo/Juliet bits, the "destiny is what you make it" routine, Aiden's freaking out over Vivian being a werewolf, and then their banding together as the pack hunts them down to the final confrontation. It's all pretty routine, soap opera stuff. It's also heavily flawed.
The plot is incredibly jumbled, and you can see that it's a Reader's Digest version of what was probably a lot longer story in the book. The movie relies on two pretty long montages to advance the plot. It also has cookie-cutter characters, soap opera level acting, uneven pacing, and it's not scary at all. There are a few scenes that are somewhat tense, but you know our heroes will pull through.
The worst thing about the movie is that they cheap out on the transformation from human to wolf. Everyone runs in slow-motion, then does this graceful leap like they're diving into a pool, get all glowy and in a flash of light, BAM, they're an average wolf. I don't know if they're doing it to match how they change in the novel, or if they wanted it to be "magical and spiritual", or if it was just cheap. But whatever the reason, it feels like a cop-out.
Blood and Chocolate isn't all bad, though. While most of the cast's acting ranges from overwrought to bland, Martinez gives an understated performance, playing Gabriel as a complex guy. Katja Riemann also does a great job as aunt Astrid, Gabriel's ex-wife, a woman struggling to stay vital in a world that has taken her youth, looks, her sister, husband and much more away from her.
The movie also gives us a decent look at the werewolf culture. They show how the pack has affected the area, its legends, and how they run things from behind the scenes, which is usually the domain of vampires.
Blood and Chocolate is pretty much a mix of a soap opera romantic drama with the accompanying level of acting, but with a furry coating. It has almost no scares for horror fans, very little action for Underworld fans, and not really a strong enough plot for romance fans.
It isn't milk chocolate, semi-sweet or even dark chocolate. It's that generic brand canned baking chocolate that your mom kept next to the chocolate milk powder. The stuff that you grabbed that one time by accident and discovered the hard way that not all chocolate tastes good.