REVIEW: “The Call Of The Wild”; The Live Action Movie We Have Been Waiting For
“The Call Of The Wild” is the best live action movie that Disney has done in years. Wait a minute. This wasn’t made by Disney, but by Fox, which is now called 20th Century Studios. Hopefully, Disney took some notes on how to do a live action movie right. If more Disney movies were like this, I’d be writing less negative reviews.
The Call Of The Wild centers around the relationship between John Thorton (Harrison Ford) and Buck. Buck is a big-hearted dog whose life is turned upside down when he is suddenly uprooted from his California home and transplanted to the exotic wilds of the Alaskan Yukon during the Gold Rush of the 1890’s. As the newest rookie on a mail delivery dog sled team, Buck experiences the adventure of a lifetime, ultimately finding his true place in the world and becoming his own master.
Going into this movie, if you are a fan of the classic Jack London book, you may be disappointed. This version is not an accurate adaption of his classic novel and takes extreme liberties from the original source material. That doesn’t make it a worse story, just a different story, and I quite enjoyed the tale that was told and it kept me entertained from beginning till the end.
Without a doubt, the star of this movie is not Harrison Ford, but Buck. At times, it may be hard to believe, but Buck is a digital scan of an actual St. Bernard/Scottish shepherd. I will admit that for the first ten minutes, it was very clear that Buck was CGI and at times it was a bit off-putting. What made it obvious was Buck’s human-like expressions. But after a while, something happened and I couldn’t imagine this movie being more impactful without it. Buck displays genuine emotions such as happiness, fear, concern, and sadness. And that is what makes Buck such a lovable character. You really do feel for Buck and all of his struggles. And he goes through a lot during this film. Some scenes may not be easy to watch, but Buck always seems to find the courage to overcome any obstacles set before him.
Another thing that I felt was really well done was just how authentic the locations looked. The town, the costumes, the people, they all felt like they were literally right out of the 1800’s. I am always super impressed when a movie will go the extra mile to make the time period as authentic as possible. The visuals and the cinematography are also just beautiful. It makes you want to take a trip up to Alaska to see the Northern Lights. And the musical score by John Powell fit the movie perfectly.
Shockingly, the worst part of this film was Harrison Ford. I’m not saying his performance is bad, but his story is less engaging than Buck’s. Some of the villains are a bit over-the-top, but they fill their purpose. I really enjoyed Buck’s previous owners when he was part of a dog sled team early on in the film. Both Omar Sy and Cara Gee brought great heart to the film and it was nice to see Buck taken in by people that genuinely cared for him after the abuse he suffered from some notorious keepers.
I feel like this movie is what the live action TheLion King should have been. The animals that were in The Lion King were just too realistic-looking, and to see them talk and sing like their original animated counterparts, just did not feel right. Buck proves that a CGI animal can express himself without talking, and that makes the movie far more enjoyable.
It’s hard to believe that a movie that was originally made by Fox seems more Disney than anything Disney has done in years. The Call Of The Wild manages to bring to life an emotional and loving dog and the result is a very heartwarming story. I have no doubt that younger viewers will fall in love with Buck, but just know there are some moments that may be a little too intense for some younger viewers.
If you are a fan of classic Disney live action movies like Whitefang, you will thoroughly enjoy this film. Throughout the movie, the CGI Buck becomes more and more real for us, due to the fact that you genuinely begin to care for Buck and hope for a well-deserved ending for our hero. This movie owes a lot to the people who helped bring Buck to life. It would not have worked, if Buck did not work, and thankfully, Buck does work and is the heart and soul of this movie.