Based on a extremely popular novel that I’ve never read, The Call Of The Wild is an adventure story that follows a very large sized, domesticated dog named “Buck” in the late 1800’s as he’s stolen from his home in California and is forced to adapt to his new circumstances far from his pampered life.
He faces an entirely new world when he’s sent up to Alaska during the time of possible lucrative Gold Rushes and keeps crossing paths with an old settler (played by the ultimate gruff Harrison Ford) who’s also far from home, only it’s by his own choice. Eventually they team up and set out to find adventure in the undiscovered country.
After seeing the trailers for this film, it was a little jarring when in the year 2019 after decades of Lassie, Benji, and Babe the talking pig, we see a live action dog that is clearly a CGI creation. Seeing the whole movie, I now understand why the filmmakers went this route. This is Buck’s movie, he has to carry the entire film, so he’s required to showcasea lot of emotions. I hoped my brain would adjust and move past the obvious special effect so I could just enjoy the story, but it didn’t. There are some scenes, especially with the other dogs, that are completely believable, but for the most part, it felt like I was watching a Garfield movie.
This film reminded me of a Sunday night, Wonderful World of Disney movie. You can tell it was intended for younger kids from the visual performance of the star dog and insanely over the top characterization of the “villains”. Dan Stevens practically stepped right out of a cartoon twirling his mustache. There’s definitely some thrilling adventure scenes and some very easy to understand animal conversations without dialogue, but it relies too heavily on narration formy taste.
Harrison Ford is fantastic, Karen Gillan is completely wasted, everyone else was fine. This wasn’t the “Man versus Nature” film that the trailers suggested, but if you have kids that like movies with talking dogs that don’t actually talk, and if they can handle a few scenes with implied intensity, this could be a good family movie.
2.5 out of 5 stars
– “Marquee Mark” Markellus