In life, you are either a dog person or a cat person. The new film from 20th Century Studios is definitely for the dog lovers of the world.
There are tons of films, cartoons, and movies about dogs. One of the good ones of this new decade is the new film, The Call of the Wild. I’m a dog person myself, and I thought this film was great. It is a timeless adventure based on Jack London’s short adventure novel. The film is written well, hosts some great actors, and includes well-placed shots and well-crafted CGI. This film will take audiences back to those movies some of us loved as kids, like Homeward Bound, Old Yeller, Lassie. Buck is easily comparable to one of the greats. The Call of the Wild is a feel-good film for any person or family.
This is one of the best stories about a dog. The book Call of the Wild by Jack London is based on London’s experiences as a gold prospector in the Canadian mountains and his ideas about nature and the contemplation of existence. After numerous versions, 2020’s The Call of the Wild directed by Chris Sanders is the best version I’ve seen, staying true to the source material. This is Sanders’s live-action debut, having made a name for himself in the animation world with films like Lilo & Stitch and How to Train Your Dragon. The film is about Buck, a loving dog whose happy domestic life is suddenly interrupted when he is stolen from his California home and shipped off to the Alaskan Yukon. Set in the 1890s, Buck becomes part of a mail-delivery dog-sled team, where he experiences adventure and finds his true place in the world. The film stars Harrison Ford, Cara Gee (The Expanse), Omar Sy (Jurassic World), Dan Stevens (Legion), and Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy).
The Call of the Wild is a well-written piece that takes the themes of London and transforms them into easily viewed moments on the screen. The big picture that runs through both the film and the book is that of a dog with an unbreakable spirit and a true fight for survival. The film tugs at your heartstrings while keeping your focus on the big picture. Buck is one of the best characters on the screen. The film is more about the dog than the humans, as it should be since the book is from Buck’s point of view. It is a tale of wildlife and domesticity. It’s about Buck’s relationships with humans, other animals, and himself. While the story is about Buck, there is also a commentary on how we as humans relate to animals and nature. In essence, it is a coming of age story that is relatable regardless of man or man’s best friend.
In the film, Harrison Ford plays John Thornton, the man who makes us believe in the human-animal connection that we can all have. Ford plays Thornton with believability and care that showcases his acting abilities. Cara Gee plays the part of Francois, the French Canadian who, with her husband, trains Buck to join their dog-sled team. The original character had been a man, but the female portrayal plays nicely into the story. There is an added layer of much-needed femininity when it comes to forming a bond with Buck. The pinnacle bad guy is played by Dan Stevens as Hal, the American gold prospector. He is a bit over the top in some scenes. He easily becomes a cartoon-like character, reminiscent of a Snidely Whiplash or a Boris Badenov from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.
The images in the film add a pictorial power that audiences will absolutely love. The landscapes in the film are gorgeous. There are different elements and seasons showcased in the film from beginning to end. There are the Yukon mountains covered in snow and dangerous frozen lakes. There are lush green woods with babbling brooks. There are vigorous rapids and waterfalls. Visual effects played a huge role in getting the scenery down but to the film’s credit, it benefits from showing versus telling. The animals don’t talk in the film, giving it a more life-like quality. Animation technology was used to bring the animals to life. The Call of the Wild is a hybrid of live-action and animated filmmaking done in incredible style. Needless to say, the CGI is fantastic. The cinematography is well executed. It is a true cinematic experience.
The Call of the Wild is a sweet family film. There are big themes that audiences will enjoy. It will be a different kind of film as audiences learn what it means to listen to your inner voice and do what’s best for you because it’s a dog teaching you the lesson. The Call of the Wild is in theaters Friday, February 21.