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MOVIE REVIEW

I was a teenage werewolf -- no, wait, that's another B- movie

Hugh Dancy and Agnes Bruckner star as the full-moon-crossed lovers in "Blood and Chocolate." (Toni Salabasev)

"It's like 'Romeo and Juliet,' except Juliet's a wolf," my friend whispered to me half an hour into the new thriller "Blood and Chocolate."

"No," I whispered back, "it's like 'Jungle Fever,' except with humans and animals."

"Or 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,' " she replied. "Except in Romania. And with wolves."

"Blood and Chocolate," you see, is sort of derivative. The story is Shakespeare's, the themes are Spike Lee's, the choreography is Ang Lee's. And the mythology? There's little werewolf lore here that you couldn't pick up by watching "Teen Wolf." Still, "Blood and Chocolate," which was adapted from a popular young adult novel, is entertaining in a B-movie sort of way, and you can't help admiring its earnestness about the philosophical issues it invokes: the individual versus the community, innovation versus tradition, majority prejudice versus minority resentment.

The story begins with artist Aiden Galvin (Hugh Dancy ) traveling to Bucharest to conduct research on werewolves for his next graphic novel. In an ancient church dedicated to the legendary creature, he meets Vivian Gandillon (Agnes Bruckner ), a morose young blonde whose only real deficit as a girlfriend is that she may not be a girl. That, and she's already betrothed to Gabriel (Olivier Martinez ), the werewolf leader, who has decided he must take a new bride every seven years. Not only is Vivian up next, but Gabriel believes she's the "Promised One" who will usher in the "Age of Hope." (Gabriel may be confused, however, since the Promised One is clearly Barack Obama . Maybe Romania doesn't get Newsweek.)

Gabriel and his werewolf buddies warn Aiden to stay away from Vivian, but when he proves remarkably stubborn, they decide to simply kill him. In the film's central action scene, Aiden gets chased through a Romanian forest during a full moon by men who change into wolves mid-leap, a neat trick, and one not dissimilar to the "beam-me-up" effect from " Star Trek. "

"Blood and Chocolate," which takes its title from a line in Hermann Hesse's novel "Steppenwolf," isn't really a horror or monster film at all. It's what advertisements call a "dark romance," meaning that there's a lot of romance and very little sunlight. That's a shame, because the movie was shot almost entirely on location in Romania, and includes some beautiful photography of Bucharest. The city ends up being more interesting than the story or characters. Too bad we can barely see it.

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