Tuesday, 26 October, 2021


The Call of the Wild (2020)

Hannah Rogers | 25 February, 2020, 15:45

To those who have read The Call of the Wild, you'll probably realize early on that the movie takes a few liberties with London's work, but nothing so egregious that it feels out of place in this story.

A pampered St. Bernard finds himself forced to adjust to a more risky world when he is kidnapped and sold for a profit.

Ford stars in the PG-rated adventure about a dog named Buck - a CGI-created Saint Bernard-Scotch Collie mix - in an adaptation of Jack London's 1903 novel.

Ahead of its theatrical launch tomorrow, 20th Century Studios has produced a brand new clip from their upcoming experience movie adaptation of The Contact of the Wild, showcasing Harrison Ford's John Thorton as he designs to choose Buck on an adventure by way of the Canadian Yukon. The novel is surely dated and somewhat problematic now, with its treatment of North American indigenous people and the ferocity of Buck, the hero dog of the story. Dan Stevens, bedecked in a red plaid three-piece suit and Snidely Whiplash mustache, is especially over the top as the gold-hungry Hal, who drives Buck to near death searching for the shiny stuff. As such, we're into the third act by the time Thornton and Buck are left to their own devices and the film finally seems to settle into a winning groove. Or you could take the 1972 version of The Call of the Wild starring silver screen legend Charlton Heston, which I watched simply because it's streaming free on both Amazon Prime and Tubi.

Dog-centric films command a particular viewers like interval items and struggle movies; it may be tough for a viewer who isn't a fan of the style to crossover for a particular film besides in excellent circumstances. Buck quickly goes from living a life of luxury to the snowy streets of Skagway, where he learns the harsh reality of the club as a painful way to control dogs in their pens. You get used to it really fast.

When Buck is leaping that inch too far or over-emoting just a tad too effusively, it evokes the look of a live-action-animation hybrid like Alvin and the Chipmunks or, more recently, Sonic the Hedgehog, when the film was clearly shooting for something more tangibly authentic. Don't you just want to hug them?

The tonal issues are glaring, as Oscar-nominated scribe Michael Green (Logan) attempts to reconcile the more stark tenor of the novel with the concessions required of big-budget tentpole filmmaking. So if it looks like humans and Buck are physically connecting, that's because they are.

These problems speak to a project that was ill-conceived in its very bones, not to ignore the sloppy pacing and editing tempo of the end result. These photos reinforce how harmful the wilderness is to domesticated creatures whether or not they're two or four-legged, and what Buck and Thornton danger looking for themselves in the wild.

And yet, this is still a hard film to dislike too much because Harrison Ford truly is trying here, while its earnest heart appears to be in the right place, and it certainly doesn't outstay its welcome. There are some disturbing moments of animal abuse in the film, so keep that in mind before you stream The Call of the Wild on Amazon Prime or Tubi. At this point in his career, Ford is able to slip on a role like a well-worn shoe but make it feel new again. At least the dogs didn't talk though, right?

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