Review by Sonny Daly
Call of the Wild ticks all the boxes when it comes to being a comforting vessel of escapism. Exhausted from shenanigans the night before, it seemed like nothing would perk up my cold soul that damp Thursday morning, but I found a warm light in the form of a goofy but lovable dog named Buck. This wholesome Odyssey of a once foolish pooch on a journey of self discovery may seem cliched, comparable to the likes of Rango or The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, although this eye watering tale of mans’ best friend is simply just so heartwarming and consistently engaging it doesn’t matter one bit.
Directed by Chris Sanders, known for notable works like How to Train Your Dragon and other renowned Disney classics, one would assume that of course this would be a children’s film. However, it can be seen and interpreted differently by adults and children alike. Call of the Wild was adapted from the early 20th century novel by Jack London which was more gritty, depicting much more desperate violence amid the 1890s Yukon gold rush. Some of this is kept in the film however, possibly for adult appeal, in the shape of John Thornton, a grizzly lone wanderer with a tragic past. Played by Harrison Ford, this adventurer joins Buck rather unfortunately halfway through the film on a decided trek across the Yukon, closely followed by prospectors with a personal agenda against Thornton. Where the suspense and action teeters on the edge of being too much for children, Sanders calls in the lighthearted humour of the wacky mutt that makes up for it.
The landscape visuals are stunning, as well as the rest of the production, though it was such a fast moving story it was almost hard to take in all of the excellent production design.
One of the major worries I had for this film was the CGI of Buck himself, but was pleasantly surprised about how he looked and moved, which was very lifelike. This is because he was based on a real St. Bernard-Scotch Collie, which the director adopted from a rescue shelter. The majority of the shots are computer generated however, but done so very successfully. Considering Sanders works on many of Disney’s animated films, this is not surprising. The landscape visuals are stunning, as well as the rest of the production, though it was such a fast moving story it was almost hard to take in all of the excellent production design.
Overall, this is an excellent film which I’d recommend to lovers of nature and dogs of any age. I thought it was a well rounded film that I’d definitely bring my younger brothers to. The only problem I had with Call of the Wild was the rather speedy pace of the plot and abrupt ending. It was a little hard to learn much about the numerous characters who were introduced and exited soon after, but it didn’t take away from the quality and enjoyment of the film. I thoroughly appreciated this film and found exactly what I didn’t know I needed this cold and harsh winter.
Call of the Wild is currently screening in cinemas across Ireland.