Call of the Wild Review
Occasionally, a film comes along that makes you walk on air as you leave the cinema! Not because it is the greatest film, but because off the wholesome and heart-warming story that it tells; this is Call of the Wild. Buck (a CGI'd St. Bernard and Scottish Shepherd mongrel) is our main character and we follow his adventures through life, both the highs and the lows. His path takes him many places from being a Judge's dog, to a sled dog to a man's best friend. Buck's journey provides the narrative drive for this film and while his story is funny, joyful and warm, it is also a little cheesy and far-fetched.
The deep voice of Harrison Ford (who plays John Thornton), narrates the first half of the film in a weird David Attenborough parody. His coincidental meetings with Buck are short lived and very fun providing the groundwork for their relationship and the final adventure into the wild. Chris Sanders (Director) controls this film, juggling his heavy use of CGI with the natural beauty of the Canadian wilderness. He does this pretty well for the most part. Buck and his pack are imbued with emotion and so, so amazing to watch! The adorable family Buck creates is one of the most heart-warming elements of this film, they look after each other and are incredibly fun to watch. Only very rarely does Buck's CGI seem jarring and out of place. The scenes where we stare in wonder at the scenery are also disconcerting as it is picture perfect and clearly artificial. This is a real shame because the actual landscape is incredible and the natural and organic scenery would have been a lot more special. The scenes sometimes feel very close to How to Train Your Dragon: Lost World (2019) and that frankly does it better and the jarring CGI is a disrupting force within this film.
The major disappointment in this film was the acting of Harrison Ford, his character is essentially an old man looking to forget his past and escape into the wild. He seeks companionship in the form of Buck. Harrison goes through the motions and just plays the role instead of acting it. His performance causes some of the emotional scenes to fall flat. Other performances such as the sled team of Perrault (Omar Sy) and Francoise (Cara Gee) are a lot stronger, they are fun and I laughed out loud in some moments with Buck. The second act of the film with them at the centre was incredible, we see beautiful landscapes and the growth of Buck as a character as he finally has caring and loving masters. I really did miss these two characters in the second half of the film.
I really enjoyed this film. It is a nice and easy watch. This is where the film is let down, it plays it too safe!! It is a complex and emotional film diluted into a PG, it loses the deeper meaning of the original text in a bid to be child friendly and more marketable. I am in two minds, it felt safe but sometimes safe is incredible. It is comforting and just what we require on some occasions. This film is a joy to watch and is perfect for a casual Sunday viewing with the family.