Plot (courtesy of IMDB):
Young Brendan lives in a remote medieval outpost under siege from barbarian raids. But a new life of adventure beckons when a celebrated master illuminator arrives from foreign lands carrying an ancient but unfinished book, brimming with secret wisdom and powers. To help complete the magical book, Brendan has to overcome his deepest fears on a dangerous quest that takes him into the enchanted forest where mythical creatures hide. It is here that he meets the fairy Aisling, a mysterious young wolf-girl, who helps him along the way. But with the barbarians closing in, will Brendan's determination and artistic vision illuminate the darkness and show that enlightenment is the best fortification against evil?
The animation is pretty ravishing - it doesn't look like anything else I've watched. The best way to describe it that I can think of is a Celticized fusion of Samurai Jack and The Thief and the Cobbler but that really doesn't capture it. The intricate linework and world-within-worlds appearance of the Book of Kells' pages is integrated into the flora and fauna and shadows of the forest, and into the Abbot's plans for the tower.
As interesting as the movie looks, the plot wasn't quite as exciting. It dragged. Sometimes, it really dragged. That's probably just me, though. Maybe it's because Brendan's battle with Crom was rather anticlimatic - pretty and interesting, but there wasn't a tangible sense of danger.
I was a little disappointed with the character design of Aisling; I feel like she should have been more ethereal and wispy. She seems disappointingly normal to me, and I think the reason boils down to the fact that her large black eyebrows make the whole character seem heavier, more human. That's a weird thing to think, isn't it?