“It’s okay boy, you’re home.”
Based on the 1903 classic novel by Jack London, Ford stars as John Thornton in the memorable adventure The Call of the Wild during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush. John befriends a special dog named Buck (half St. Bernard and half Scotch shepherd) on this amazing life journey. Special effects and stellar environments impress and ensure this story will continue for generations. Filmmakers also alter the characters a bit and provide more character background for John as compared to the original novel.
Ford’s screen presence, voice delivery, and physical talents more than match the demands of the plot. His additional narration fits the rugged, frontier situations perfectly. Not many other actors could pull off this role. Ford is still doing stuntwork at the age of 77 with the next Indiana Jones film on the way.
Omar Sy (The Intouchables) and Cara Gee (Expanse) impress almost as much as Ford as Perrault (who is French) and Françoise (she is Tlingit (pronounced “klinkit”)). They portray dog team leaders who deliver mail to the community. See if you can guess who the dog team was modeled after. 🙂
Dan Stevens (Beauty and the Beast) is the relentless antagonist Hal. Good casting, but his performance is a little over-the-top. Karen Gillan is notable as Hal’s sister, but her role isn’t big enough (and left with an open-ended fate) for her considerable talents. Colin Woodell plays her husband Charles and Bradley Whitford makes a great Judge Miller in the beginning.
Characters often reflect the viewer’s perspective as you can’t help but pause and enjoy the awe-inspiring scenery. The film provides a showcase to nature’s wonders with a narrative that provides enough detail to accurately depict life in the wilderness during this time.
Director Chris Sanders (The Croods, Lilo & Stitch) makes his live-action debut with solid one hour and 40-minute plot adaptation written by Michael Green (Logan, Blade Runner 2049). Green also served as an executive producer.
Dangerous stuntwork was one of the reasons filmmakers took a computer-animated approach when producing the animals. The environments are incredible and create the perfect backdrop. The special effects distract a bit from the nature but these amazing backgrounds provide some balance. Audiences get a true sense of this pioneer life and it’s a memorable experience.
Experience prevails again with composer John Powell who previously worked with Sanders on How to Train Your Dragon and has provided the musical score over 50 films.
Recommended (*** out of four stars) and rated PG for some violence, peril, thematic elements and mild language. The Call of the Wild is the first film to feature the rebranded logo of 20th Century Studios logo (previously known as 20th Century Fox before Disney acquired the company).