the call of the wild

★★★★

DIRECTOR: chris sanders (lilo & stitch, how to train your dragon)
STARRING: harrison ford, dan stevens, omar sy and karen gillan

 

REVIEWER: lyall carter

Buck, a big-hearted dog whose blissful domestic life is turned upside down when he is suddenly uprooted from his California home and transplanted to the exotic wilds of the Alaskan Yukon during the Gold Rush of the 1890s. 

When I was a kid nearly every Saturday night we seemed to watch a live action film where animals were the main stars. Babe, Homeward Bound and Black Beauty were some of our favorites that we watched over and over again after Nana had video taped them off the telly. 

 

Then, for some reason, Hollywood stopped making those kinda movies. But with Disney +'s Togo and now The Call of the Wild live action animal films might just be back. And if The Call of the Wild is anything to go by we're in for a rip roaring, heart string tugging charming ride.

 

Buck is a big-hearted dog whose blissful domestic life gets turned upside down when he is suddenly uprooted from his California home and transplanted to the exotic wilds of the Alaskan Yukon in the 1890s. As the newest rookie on a mail-delivery dog sled team, Buck experiences the adventure of a lifetime as he ultimately finds his true place in the world.

 

Until the media screening invite arrived I'd kinda forgotten about The Call of the Wild. The trailer was good but didn't have me longing for its release. But boy oh boy - The Call of the Wild caught me by surprise and just swept me up and I was completely engrossed and entertained for the entire running time. 

 

We took our nephew (7) and niece (10) along too who both literally sat on the edge of their seats the entire time (which is very unusual). The Call of the Wild also has some really funny moments which they, and the rest of the cinema, roared with laughter. At the end they told us they loved it and it was one of the best movies they'd seen (again - very unusual). 

 

The animals don't speak in the film so the narrative drive is a collaboration between the facial expressions and actions of the dogs and Harrison Ford's narration. At its heart The Call of the Wild is an adventure story - there's dog sleds escaping avalanches, an angry bear, panning for gold and going down a waterfall in a canoe and so much more. Like any Disney movie (technically 20th Century Studios - got to see the new logo which was cool) there's some deep themes explored that just break your heart too.

 

Sometimes the CGI Buck can look a little well, CGI but for the most part and the close ups you totally forget he's CGI and fall head over heels in love with him. 

 

The human cast is a great one with Dan Stevens, Karen Gillan and Omar Sy bringing great performances to the film. But Harrison Ford. Far out. Sometimes you forget how good an actor he really is. Here he gives a wonderfully tender performance which will cause the tears to start welling up. Also, you needn't be worried about a 77 year old Indiana Jones - that guy is ripped!

 

The Call of the Wild is a rare beast. It will entertain both children and adults alike, complete engrossing them in a charming, heartfelt tale of adventure.  

★★★★

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