THE CALL OF THE WILD – Harrison Ford Has A Different Furry Sidekick!

Salty Claire here – I have to admit that I’m more of a cat person than a dog person. Recently that’s to the behest of our Salty founder, King Kernel Jason. However, this trailer perked up my ears when it dropped earlier this year. It looks like Han and Chewie adventuring in an alternate universe on the bark side of the force – and honestly, I’m here for it. The CGI animators seemingly took the LION KING real-life uncanny valley feedback seriously and made the CGI dog a virtual cartoon. They probably could have saved themselves a bucket of cash by just using a real dog. And those BEETHOVEN/AIR BUD/HOMEWARD BOUND throwbacks would have brought home a smash-hit of nostalgia. I’ve heard mixed reviews on this adorable little buddy-film. Computer generated puppers aside, it still sounds like it’s worth a watch. Enjoy Kernel John’s review here on Salty Pup-corn….errr…Popcorn.

THE CALL OF THE WILD is rated PG and runs for a snappy 100mins. It’s in cinemas now from the Goodbois (and Goodgirls) at Disney

A Bedraggled Harrison Ford In The Call Of The Wild

BY JOHN McPARLAND

INITIAL THOUGHTS:

When I first saw the trailer for this movie all I could think was “Finally, a film about those glorious days sometime after Episode VI but before Episode VII! When Han Solo and Chewbacca go camping in between those brutal galaxy-spanning wars of mass genocide that they always get caught up in.  Yay!”  I mean, that poster of Harrison Ford and that adorable fluff in a canoe is just so precious.

Directed by Chris Sanders (HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON) and based on the 1903 novel by Jack London of the same name, THE CALL OF THE WILD is a wonderful tale of adventure starring Harrison Ford (INDIANA JONES FRANCHISE, STAR WARS FRANCHISE) and a gorgeous St. Bernard cross Scotch Collie called Buck.

Buck – The CGI Star Of The Show

SYNOPSIS: THE STORY OF A GOODBOI

Set in the closing decade of the 19th century against the backdrop of the Klondike Gold Rush, Buck is a kind-hearted but incredibly spirited, destructive dog. Buck has the untouchable run of Santa Clara by virtue of his being the pet of the local judge.  When the call goes out for large working dogs to haul sleds in Alaska, Buck is puppynapped by a devious pair of thieves and transported across the country to his new frozen abode. 

He is purchased as part of a team moving mail around the state. He runs into the sad and reclusive John Thornton (Ford), a broken man running from his troubled family past.  Buck is later rescued by Thornton from an unscrupulous prospector and the two form an unlikely friendship.  They decide to journey into the untamed forests together, with Thornton learning to laugh and care again through Buck’s beautifully caring nature, while in turn encouraging Buck to return to his untamed roots and answer his instinctive call of the wild.

The Call of the Wild – Strap in for a fun ride!

STORY: IT’S A RUFF LIFE!

Buck is an entirely computer generated creation. He’s made with such skill however, that I only discovered this fact when I started my research for this review. Buck is so lifelike and expressive that you cannot help but get drawn into those big puppy dog eyes.  For a character that never speaks, I was totally invested in his story and all of its ups and downs.  And trust me, you will run the gamut of emotions following Buck’s tail (see what I did there?).  From his playful beginnings, to his frightening abduction, to his confusion and curiosity at seeing snow for the first time. Buck learns that the world is so much larger, crueller and more wonderful than his cushy plantation lifestyle could have ever led him to believe.

Adventure Calls! Harrison Ford and his furry sidekick, Buck.

CASTING: MEET THE MEMBERS OF THE PACK

The (human) acting in THE CALL OF THE WILD is superb.  FORD needs no promoting whatsoever. He is a fantastic actor that always hits the mark and does it perfectly in this film too.  The movie also stars Omar Sy (X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST). Cara Gee (THE EXPANSE television series). And Dan Stevens (DOWNTON ABBEY, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST). They’re all solid in their performances as well.  The characters have their own storylines woven throughout the film. They come and go as needed. Each leaves a mark in some way on Buck’s life. It’s this distinction that truly makes THE CALL OF THE WILD a standout.  It’s not a film about people that happens to have a dog in it. THE CALL OF THE WILD is most definitely a film about a dog, with some people in it too. 

Harrison Ford – looking “Ruff” in The Call of the Wild.

VERDICT: BE SURE TO TAKE THIS ONE FOR A WALK!

THE CALL OF THE WILD makes very heavy use of CGI to bring its story to life.  Nothing of the film was shot on location, though some sets were used for the indoor scenes.  As mentioned earlier, the CGI is very well done. At no point was I broken out of my dogged (pun intended) immersion by a grainy, malformed blur masquerading as a rabbit. (ED’s Note: Wait- did that actually happen?). 

As a result of this CGI, the overall budget for the film is somewhere in the realm of $150 million.  This, combined with low ticket-sales has meant that the film is expected to make a loss of roughly $100 million. A ludicrously large loss, considering how enjoyable this movie is.  To put that in perspective, this film is projected to lose more money than the entire budget of CATS! Cats, incidentally is about three quarters of the way to breaking even on its $100 million cost. It’s a fact that’s even crazier to my mind!

I encourage each and every one of our readers to head to your local cinema and see THE CALL OF THE WILD at your earliest opportunity.  Such a lovely and beautifully made film should not fall so low as to be bested by the CATS’ visual effects travesty.  One made masterful use of CGI throughout, the other should have been thrown out with the kitty litter.

KERNEL JOHN’S POP SCORE:

KERNEL JASON’S POP SCORE:

YOUR CRITIC:

A lifelong lover of the silver screen, Kernel John strives to engage and entertain his audience through the shameless use of humour in his reviews, even when it probably isn’t warranted. When not musing for Salty, you can often find John bouncing between his extreme states of either puppy watching down by the beach, or reflecting on the deepest mysteries of the Universe.

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.