MOVIE REVIEW: The Call Of The Wild
Updated: Apr 27, 2020
I went to see The Call of the Wild, Disney's first film under the newly branded 20th Century Studios. It was a beautiful film that really saluted the spirit of adventure and ingenuity during turn of the century Yukon, Alaska.
While we might think the film is about Harrison Ford's character John Thornton, but its really about Buck, the Saint Bernard/Scotch Collie mix. The film follows Buck from his time on with a genteel Southern family to being dognapped and shipped to the Alaska Yukon where he comes to the employee of the kindly Perrault (Omar Sy) and François (Cara Gee). With them, he leads a dog sled team delivering mail to the people of Alaska. But, all stories end and Buck then finds himself in the employee of a cruel master (Dan Stevens) from whom Thornton rescues the dog and that's when they go on their grand adventure together. It's interesting because Ford doesn't really get involved until about 30 minutes into the movie. In all honesty, I remember reading the book by Jack London when in high school, but my memories are foggy. Yet, I'm fairly certain that the film took lots of liberties with the story. While this might offend literary purists, the added bits bring some thrilling sequence and exciting moments.
Much has been said about the CGI of Buck and whether it is believable or not. While I could tell where there was computer animation, I wasn't really taken out of the story. I found Buck to be quite the lovable oafish dog he was meant to be.
Director Chris Sanders comes from the animation world, known for films such as Lilo & Stitch and How To Train Your Dragon. In those films, he showed us how he could really anthropomorphize a beloved pet and he does the same thing with this film in Buck. While he is mostly CGI, they really created a wonderfully believable animal full of the type of quirky personality Sanders is known for.
This seemed like the kind of role that was perfect for Harrison Ford. This kind of grizzled old man with a grizzled old narrative style. He was great in the role and you really felt for him. Dan Stevens hams it up a little bit too much for my liking, but he is meant to be completely unlikable anyway. I enjoyed the chemistry between Sy and Gee.
Some people asked me if this was the kind of movie that was okay for children. Personally, I think it is. There are some moments of violence, but nothing more than most kids are used to these days. Probably the parts that might be difficult for kids are the themes of loss and death in the film. Otherwise, I think its a great family adventure film. On many levels, while this is a 20th Century Studios films, its the kind of Walt Disney Studios film along the lines of Old Yeller.