The Call of the Wild - Movie Review

"Well Buck, what an adventure."

Image from Walt Disney Studios
An adventure is just what you'll find when you head to theaters to see The Call of the Wild starring Harrison Ford as John Thornton and his loyal companion, Buck.  We have long heard that a dog is man's best friend and in this movie we see that come to life. I have always been a fan of Harrison Ford and you know my love of family films that appeal to kids and adults alike so I was really hoping to fall in love with this movie.  While I won't say it's a film that everyone will love, I left the theatre with my heart full and warm.  Wondering if it's right for you and your family?  Let's find out.


Overall, I really enjoyed the film with my kids.  Having never read the book, I wasn't sure what exactly to expect.  I feel like the trailer tells the story of Buck and John Thornton on their grand adventure and I didn't realize how much of the move would take place before this adventure even begins.  There is a whole life that Buck has prior to going into the wild with Thornton.  Watching him go from a spoiled house pet, to a scared and captured pup, to a struggling mail dog, and ultimately to a confident leader, Buck embodies a transformation that humans can relate to as we go through the different seasons of our lives.  I felt a connection to Buck in a way I didn't expect to.  And then there's Harrison Ford as John Thornton.  His performance is memorable and just as you experience Buck's emotional journey during the film, you also do with Thorton.  As a man who has lost his family and is really trying to lose himself, he turns his life around and awakens to have the adventure he always dreamed of with the dog he never knew he needed.

One of the things that I think will be talked about in this film is the CGI.  The story being brought to life needs CGI in order to be told at the depth that it is.  You feel the emotions of Buck as he both cringes at the sight of the club and excites at his moments in the wild.  But, as critics have already pointed out from the early trailers, the quality of the CGI leaves something to be desired.  I mean, it's obvious in films when CGI is used. . .but in this film it's OBVIOUS.  I don't really know how else to describe it.  My husband really felt like this took away from the film itself, but I disagree with him.  I still feel like it's a quality family film - it just won't win any awards for visual quality in my opinion.

With a PG rating, I didn't hesitate to take my kids to the advanced screening I had received tickets too, but there are a few cautions I would throw out with the film.  There are several scenes of animal abuse - both actual abuse and implied abuse - that can be difficult for even adults in the audience to watch, but may be especially difficult for little eyes.  There isn't any language that stood out to me, but there is some gun violence and a house fire as well.

About the Film

Adapted from the beloved literary classic, Twentieth Century Fox's THE CALL OF THE WILD vividly brings to the screen the story of 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 Canadian Yukon during the Gold Rush of the 1890s. As the newest rookie on a mail delivery dog sled team--and later its leader--Buck experiences the adventure of a lifetime, ultimately finding his true place in the world and becoming his own master. As a live-action/animation hybrid, THE CALL OF THE WILD employs cutting edge visual effects and animation technology in order to render the animals in the film as fully photorealistic--and emotionally authentic--characters. "The Call of the Wild" is directed by Chris Sanders from a screenplay by Michael Green, based on the novel by Jack London. The film stars Harrison Ford, Omar Sy, Dan Stevens, Karen Gillan, Bradley Whitford and Colin Woodell. "The Call of the Wild" is produced by Erwin Stoff and James Mangold with Diana Pokorny and Ryan Stafford serving as executive producers.

The Call of the Wild opens everywhere February 21, 2020!



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