Delightfully Slight: Our Review of ‘Call Of The Wild’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - February 21, 2020
Delightfully Slight: Our Review of ‘Call Of The Wild’

There’s nothing wrong with the indelible journey of man with his best friend…

In this job, you’re always kind of looking for the next movie that’s going to light the world on fire…but they don’t ALL have to be like that.  This new update of Call Of The Wild is admittedly very slight, but it’s always entertaining and emotionally engaging as embrace the adventure of a life time that this dog sets out on and the people he meets along the way.

Buck is a big-hearted dog whose blissful domestic 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 1890s. As the newest rookie on a mail delivery dog sled team–and later its leader–Buck experiences the adventure of a lifetime, ultimately finding his true place in the world and becoming his own master.

It’s never something that’s going to be confused for high cinematic art but Call Of The Wild is a delightful yet predictable little adventure that is angled towards all ages in as safe a manner as humanly possible.  It’s a nice slice of adorable fluff that you’ll enjoy in the moment but forget about soon after you leave the theatre.

With director Chris Sanders at the helm and a serviceable adaptation of the source material from screenwriter Michael Green that allows for a clear cut and workable narrative from beginning to end.

The film certainly looks good and while the dogs (and most of the scenery) are clearly CGI it’s never to a point where it’s detrimental to the story as it all looks and plays as real as it can be.  Sure it’s a little weird that we’re essentially getting a digital homage to the core story of the delicate balance between man and nature but it all unfolds in such an inviting way that even when the characters are in peril you still feel like you’re watching it all unfold while wrapped up in a warm blanket.

To call this film anything more than cinematic comfort food would actually be doing it a disservice because it takes all the narrative beats of a family friendly adventure with an adorable (all be it digital) dog in the lead as he gets into new adventures and makes friends along the way.  In the dead of a Canadian winter, getting out too see what is essentially The Littlest Hobo on steroids (partially in thanks to the visuals from the legendary Janusz Kaminski) is a fantastic tonic for the winter blahs.

While Buck and his adventures are the lead in this story, the people he interacts with along the way certainly brighten his journey after some rough beginnings with him being taken from his home.  Omar Sy and Canada’s own Cara Gee are very solid as the hard driving mail delivery team in which Buck begins to find his sense of self worth.  As the story evolves, so does Buck and he really settles into a personality when he reunites with Harrison Ford’s character later in the movie and it ties it all into a neat little bow, especially with Ford doing the voice over narration for the story.

The rest of the characters in this fable are a little forgettable but Dan Stevens does have a fair bit of fun as the mad prospector not understanding the delicate balance that man has with nature and he chewed the scenery at every turn, trying to look like a live action reincarnation of Snidely Whiplash from the Dudley Do-Right cartoons.

At the end of the day; Call Of The Wild is a perfectly delightful piece of entertainment that anyone can enjoy.  It won’t move the needle on any fronts after the fact, but you’ll get lost in the moment while you’re at the movies and really…isn’t that why we all go to the cinema in the first place.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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