The Call of the Wild is a vibrant story of Buck, a big and kindhearted dog, a crossbreed between a St. Bernard and a Scotch Collie, whose carefree life of leisure was suddenly upset when he was stolen from his home in Santa Clara County, California and deported up north, to be sold in Skagway, Alaska, and taken further north, to Dawson City, Yukon, during the late 1890s Klondike Gold Rush, when strong sled dogs were in high demand. As a newcomer to the dog team delivery service - and not before long their front-runner - Buck, a dog like no other, who had been spoiled, and who had suffered, but he could not be broken, is having the time of his life. Forced to fight to survive, eventually taken by his last owner, John Thornton, to proximity of the Arctic Circle, somewhere between Yukon and Alaska, he progressively depends on his primal instincts, sheds the comforts of civilization and responds to "the call of the wild", as master of his own.Written by
Davor Blazevic 1959 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In the book, Buck is purchased by two men, Perrault and Francois. In this version, Francois becomes Francoise, a woman. See more »
When John and Buck are rowing downstream at night, the reflection of the moon is seen clearly in the water, but it's not mirrored. See more »
It was in all the papers at the time. Men searching in the Artic had found a yellow metal. Gold. A mad fever spread as far as word can travel, and thousands more rushed to the North to try their luck. These men needed dogs. Big dogs with strong muscles to pull their sleds.
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Film title at the end of closing credits See more »
Prior to re-shoots, Mercedes, Charles, and the remaining dog team die (off-screen) on the broken-up river; only Hal survives to return to Dawson and confront John Thornton in the Argonaut saloon. (Paraphrased: "I lost everything because of you: my dogs... my sister...") Despite successful test screenings, studio heads changed this to Hal saying, "My dogs ran off" -- indicating the team and (one assumes) Mercedes and Charles survived -- in an attempt to keep children from being upset. See more »
For a $135 million dollar costing financial flop that stars a much ridiculed CGI dog as its main protagonist, The Call of the Wild is a surprisingly watchable family affair that is nowhere near as bad as its terrible trailers or marketing campaign made it look to be.
Marking his first foray into non-animated feature film-making after well-liked efforts Lilo and Stitch, The Croods and How to Train Your Dragon, director Chris Sanders had a difficult task adapting Jack London's famed source material for the big screen and you can sense the film is never completely comfortable within itself as our computer generated furry friend Buck sets out on an Alaskan adventure filled with life lessons, gold and a grizzled Han Solo.
It takes us as viewers sometime too warm up to Buck in his current form, something that would not have been the case had Buck been played by some real life pooches (just look at recent effort Togo as an example) and it hurts Call of the Wild in the long run as Sanders tries to invest us into Buck's journey that takes him from spoiled pooch to mistreated captive on his quest to be partnered with Harrison Ford's isolated alcoholic John Thornton.
On the way to this inevitable pairing, there's a somewhat enjoyable if not overly well-established sub-plot with Omar Sy's mail delivery sled team owner Perrault, which is fine if not particularly memorable and a terrible Dan Steven's appearance as the horrid extremely overplayed villain of the piece Hal but once Thornton arrives on the scene, Call of the Wild becomes a far more enticing experience that showcases the potential of London's source material, too display a likeable scenario of man and dog's friendship.
It helps that Ford seems as invested in this role as much as his been in the last few decades, delivering one of his better all-round performances in some time as his on screen charisma and enthusiasm helping us forget that Buck is only ever mildly believable in his imaginary form, no doubt necessitated by a raft of situations in the film that would've been impossible to pull off with a real life canine in the role.
There's not a lot of surprises to be found narratively here, with London's story pillaged and pilfered from in the many years since it was published but with the film's latter half more than making up for a rough beginning and weak segments, this pretty to look at example of financial failure on a big-scale is a film that many will still find highly entertaining and enjoyable.
Final Say -
Overcoming some at times hard to take CGI and a poor opening half, The Call of the Wild isn't a new canine classic but its central relationship between a lost human soul and a caring four legged friend makes it an adventure you won't regret taking.
3 gold nuggets out of 5
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