As Disney continues rolling out the slate from 20th Century Films left over films, what was originally planned as a Christmas Day release, is finally releasing in theatres. While the film boasts Harrison Ford in the lead role, his co-star a poorly CGI’ed dog that showcases some truly terrible special effects that are on the same level as last year’s Cats. The film does have a solid story and the script is near perfect, everything else is such a mess the final result is a dogs breakfast.
The film follows the series of short stories under The Call Of The Wild classic stories from the 1903 author Jack London. The main character is a St Bernard named Buck. The dog is tossed around from town to town and finds himself in Alaska on a dog sled run delivering mail. When the work dries up Buck’s pack is purchased by a rich adventurer who wants to find a mythical land full of gold and treausre.
Buck has several interactions with a prospector named Thornton (Harrison Ford) and after a near accident, the pair end up looking out for each other and trying to find the land of treasure together.
The story is fantastic, it does a great job of weaving the classic tale in with modern storytelling techniqures to help it feel fresh to a new audience which scriptwriter Michael Green has perfected. The novels are all woven together to create a co-hesive story that follows the life of Buck and his friendship with Thornton and the world at large.
It’s such a shame that the CGI is so truly terrible, the movie fails to provide an emotional connection to Buck. The often rigid movement and sometimes monstrous facial expressions on Buck distract from the emotional connection that the story is trying to convey. It is truly mind boggling that they didn’t even attempt to use real dogs and interweave it with CGI when scenes required it rather than 100% rely on it. This also goes for the rest of the dogs and CGI landscapes in the movie. It looks very off and almost completely ruins the experience.
Ford is in fine form here as the grizzly old prospector. It is a role he has played well for a few years now and it is perfectly suited to this film. His interaction with Buck is intriguing. The performance may only be one sided, yet is enough to prove that Ford can be a one man band if required. There was a hushed silence when the gratuitous shirtless scene happens from the ladies and gays in the audience.
The whole things comes off as a little confusing. There is a lot of violence and dog fighting in the movie that could really disturb younger audiences, yet the dialogue and story is squarely aimed at them. It feels like a really old school Sunday afternoon film that you may watch at home to entertain the kids.
The Call Of The Wild is showing in cinemas, I would recommend waiting for its inevitable release on Disney + and best saved for an afternoon nursing a hangover waiting for your Uber Eats to be delivered.