Christopher Sanders’ movie rendition of Jack London’s short adventure novel “The Call of the Wild” debuted in theaters on Friday, Feb. 31. The novel tells the story of Buck, a crossbreed dog from a luxurious home in California who becomes captured and thrown into the harsh and unforgiving land of 1890s Alaska amidst the Klondike Gold Rush.
Unfortunately, even with Hollywood icon Harrison Ford starring in this movie, it is unequivocally terrible and boring to watch. The creators of this film essentially took one of the most horrendous, filthy and uncomfortable places in the world at the time and made it look like paradise. Everything in this film is so incredibly babied down that anything that carried meaning in the book is completely lacking on screen.
To get this out of the way, this will not simply be a review. It will be a combination of a review and a deep dive into the disgrace of a piece of art in its translation to the big screen.
Why they chose to make this a PG movie is beyond me. The book it is based upon contains numerous gruesome and violent scenes of man versus dog and often dog versus dog. Those scenes of biting and tearing and killing draw the reader in and creates tension. In addition, it paints a bigger picture of what Jack London deemed the true nature of the wild. But, because they felt it necessary to make any movie containing a dog a kids’ movie, absolutely no blood or semblance of pain is shown.
For example, a key part of the novel is when Buck is beaten into submission after being captured. Every time he rebels against the man with the club, he is struck down again. It goes on and on, wearing him down until he learns what London called “the law of club and fang.” In the movie, however, he is hit once (it does not actually show him being hit; it is only displayed in a shadow on the wall), and the scene is over. Why completely ignore what made a moment of the novel so powerful to begin with? Oh right, because it’s a kids’ movie. I could name about three other occurrences where important scenes are either censored or altogether left out.
All the actors and actresses, including Harrison Ford, do a mediocre job, considering what they had to work with. Every line of dialogue is the most cheesy and by the books nonsense you could come up with.
Every character treats Buck like a real person, and everything Buck does in response makes it appear as though he actually understands a word anyone says.
The CGI of Buck himself is a nightmare, consistently taking away any impact the movie may have had due to how goofy he looks. The stock happy, sad and dramatic music are all here, and it’s all corny.
One thing the movie accomplished lies in the visual department, as most of the set pieces were quite beautiful.
The only people who I see liking this movie are children below the age of six and senior citizens who will enjoy anything with Harrison Ford in it.
I would use your money to buy the book instead of a ticket to this infantile disgrace of a film.
There is a difference between not doing a work of art justice and tarnishing its memory completely. This movie does the latter. Through its awful use of CGI animals, avoidance of realistic and harsh moments and a total lack of qualities that would make any movie watchable like good acting or intriguing dialogue, this film solidifies itself as a disgrace to the novel. I have no doubt Jack London is rolling over in his grave.
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