The Call of the Wild – Film Review

Buck is no ordinary pooch. He is larger than the ordinary household pet, in both size and personality.

Seemingly living the picture-perfect life at his Californian home, Buck is loved by his family but feared by the household’s servants. With an appetite as large as his stature, the servants frantically hide food when they feel the rumble of Buck running through the halls. It’s all fun and games until Buck and his insatiable appetite destroys a banquet and sees him exiled outside that evening in the cold rain.

Set during the 1890s at the height of the North American Gold Rush, large numbers of people are surging north into the Yukon gold fields of Alaska in hopes of striking it rich. Due to the large migration, there is a huge demand for working dogs to pull sleds through the snowy terrain. After seeing Buck running through town, one townsfolk sees an opportunity to make some quick cash and dog-naps Buck in the middle of the night and sells him as a working dog. Trapped in a box and on a train, Buck’s life is about to be turned upside down. Will Buck fail as a working dog due to his domestic upbringing? Or will he hone in on the instincts set by his ancestors to survive the wild?

For a film that is mostly CGI, it isn’t all that bad. But it isn’t great either. I will admit though, the animation of the animals is miles ahead of what we witnessed in The Lion King (2019). I could actually see emotion and facial expressions in the animals, notably within Buck. The little side eye glances and facial expressions, made Buck an extremely likeable character. The landscapes, either real footage or also CGI, were visually stunning.

Harrison Ford was a perfect choice for the grumpy old recluse, John Thornton. He also narrates a lot of the story. To me this seemed strange, as Thornton wasn’t around for Buck’s entire life, so how would he know his life story? This confused me. Other than that, he was great with what he had to work with. Notable mentions to Omar Sy as the enthusiastic sled mail-man and the actor in the motion capture suit, Terry Notary. Literally crawling around set on all fours to be replaced as a dog in post-production. I absolutely adore dogs and I was pleased with how Director Chris Sanders and his team were able to portray Buck and other animal characters in this film.

Overall, The Call of the Wild is an okay film. It’s one I am happy to have witnessed, but not one that I would suggest to rush out to the cinema to see right away. I would see it if you are curious and enjoy Harrison Ford. Admittedly there were some minor ‘eye-roll’ moments, but overall I definitely enjoyed it.

The Call of the Wild is out in cinemas tomorrow.

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