Synopsis

The Call of the Wild is a vibrant story of Buck, a big and kindhearted dog, a crossbreed between a St. Bernard and a Scotch Collie, whose carefree life of leisure was suddenly upset when he was stolen from his home in Santa Clara County, California and deported up north, to be sold in Skagway, Alaska, and taken further north, to Dawson City, Yukon, during the late 1890s Klondike Gold Rush, when strong sled dogs were in high demand. As a newcomer to the dog team delivery service - and not before long their front-runner - Buck, a dog like no other, who had been spoiled, and who had suffered, but he could not be broken, is having the time of his life. Forced to fight to survive, eventually taken by his last owner, John Thornton, to proximity of the Arctic Circle, somewhere between Yukon and Alaska, he progressively depends on his primal instincts, sheds the comforts of civilization and responds to "the call of the wild", as master of his own.

Director

Chris Sanders

Cast

Harrison Ford
as John Thornton
Karen Gillan
as Mercedes
Omar Sy
as Perreault
Raven Scott
as Pastry Chef

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by dylanhorne-76909 6 /10

I was expecting the wrong thing

This is a great family movie. It has all the aspects of what makes kids smile. However, this is not the adaption of Jack London's book that I was looking for. In my opinion, in searching for that feel good vibe, it lost the character that defined the original story. Everything was made PG and the raw unforgiving reality of the book was lost in translation. Additionally, the CGI was good, but over used to the nth degree. Its worth a watch, just keep in mind that this movie is a rather loose adaptation.

Reviewed by Davor_Blazevic_1959 8 /10

A classic novel well-altered... especially for the younger ones

Before writing anything about the film itself let it be noted following.

(1) Screenplays are usually related to source materials (works of fiction or documentary depictions of factual events and experiences) with the phrase *based on*, which is mostly read as *copied from* (whether a fictitious depiction or reality) although fully faithful account of events and their protagonists almost never happens, so, in all fairness, it might be safer to understand such relation simply as *altered from*.

(2) Furthermore, CGI has erased strict distinction between live action and animation, introducing a new method and a whole new form of cinematography by blending realistic imagery and kinematics of existing animals (and other fantastic beasts) with anthropomorphic expressions and gestures given to their stylized representation in the world of animation, a trend probably started in 1970's by ILM servicing Star Wars saga, getting (over)exploited in recent followers of the kind, most notably Disney's The Lion King (2019).

That having been said, in the latest take on Jack London's classic novel, screenwriter Michael Green and director Chris Sanders--apparently intentionally not bound by faithfulness to the original text, particularly avoiding its darker overtones, certainly counting with receptiveness from the audience, especially from those (among us) who have read the novel--have succeeded in meeting a great deal of expectations from the film seeking to be labeled with family entertainment attribute.

The Call of the Wild is the story of Buck (as main human character, John Thornton, described it), a dog like no other, he'd been spoiled, and he'd suffered, but he could not be broken... Buck's life gets turned upside down during the gold rush of the 1890s, when he was suddenly banished from his home in California and moved, first to Yukon, and then deep into the heart of Alaska, reaching Arctic Circle. *As a newcomer to the dog team delivery service - soon their leader - Buck is having adventure of a lifetime, finally finding his rightful place in the world and becoming the master of his own destiny.*

By smoothening London's honest account and description of--pursuant to extreme conditions easily understandable--truly violent interaction between people, animals and nature, primarily by minimizing cruel dog beatings at the hands of their masters and brutal, often fatal dog fights, film makers have altered such survival seeking Darwinian world, in which dog eats dog and a man is (often) a wolf to another man, by promoting rather-friends-then-foes approach towards strangers, and, whenever possible, insisting rather on gentleness than harshness of the great wild outdoors, overhauling the classic story to an easier digestible, ergo family friendlier.

Other qualities include good acting, with Harrison Ford as a stand-out, whose husky calm voice offers narration throughout the film, providing vulnerable yet soothing, almost comforting presence in his appearance as John Thornton, seemingly a gold prospector, but in fact, after losing his loved ones, a son to a deadly fever, and a wife to subsequent collapse of his marriage, no more than a grief-stricken redemption seeker. Also, in the first half of the movie, as a far north delivery service running couple, Omar Sy and Cara Gee are joy to watch in their often, despite all difficulties, comic relief providing roles.

Film demonstrates commendable seamless integration of CG imagery of beasts and beautiful environments into spectacular cinematography provided by Janusz Kaminski.

Joyful music, scored by John Powell, is well-paced to follow the speed of onscreen action and reflect the highs and lows in the moods of characters.

All in all, it is nicely crafted film with the fast-paced story, providing enough dramatic excitement and fun, especially for the younger ones.

My rating score stops short of perfect, due to a trend described in my second opening note that I cannot easily fall in with, too.

Finally, on a lighter note, having film menagerie of animals fully CGI-ed renders monitors from American Humane Association superfluous, as even in their absence we can rest assured that *no (real) animals were harmed during the making of this film.*

Reviewed by eddie_baggins 6 /10

Far better than the trailers made it look

For a $135 million dollar costing financial flop that stars a much ridiculed CGI dog as its main protagonist, The Call of the Wild is a surprisingly watchable family affair that is nowhere near as bad as its terrible trailers or marketing campaign made it look to be.

Marking his first foray into non-animated feature film-making after well-liked efforts Lilo and Stitch, The Croods and How to Train Your Dragon, director Chris Sanders had a difficult task adapting Jack London's famed source material for the big screen and you can sense the film is never completely comfortable within itself as our computer generated furry friend Buck sets out on an Alaskan adventure filled with life lessons, gold and a grizzled Han Solo.

It takes us as viewers sometime too warm up to Buck in his current form, something that would not have been the case had Buck been played by some real life pooches (just look at recent effort Togo as an example) and it hurts Call of the Wild in the long run as Sanders tries to invest us into Buck's journey that takes him from spoiled pooch to mistreated captive on his quest to be partnered with Harrison Ford's isolated alcoholic John Thornton.

On the way to this inevitable pairing, there's a somewhat enjoyable if not overly well-established sub-plot with Omar Sy's mail delivery sled team owner Perrault, which is fine if not particularly memorable and a terrible Dan Steven's appearance as the horrid extremely overplayed villain of the piece Hal but once Thornton arrives on the scene, Call of the Wild becomes a far more enticing experience that showcases the potential of London's source material, too display a likeable scenario of man and dog's friendship.

It helps that Ford seems as invested in this role as much as his been in the last few decades, delivering one of his better all-round performances in some time as his on screen charisma and enthusiasm helping us forget that Buck is only ever mildly believable in his imaginary form, no doubt necessitated by a raft of situations in the film that would've been impossible to pull off with a real life canine in the role.

There's not a lot of surprises to be found narratively here, with London's story pillaged and pilfered from in the many years since it was published but with the film's latter half more than making up for a rough beginning and weak segments, this pretty to look at example of financial failure on a big-scale is a film that many will still find highly entertaining and enjoyable.

Final Say -

Overcoming some at times hard to take CGI and a poor opening half, The Call of the Wild isn't a new canine classic but its central relationship between a lost human soul and a caring four legged friend makes it an adventure you won't regret taking.

3 gold nuggets out of 5

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