Call of the Wild (2020) A Review

A bog standard adventure story, nothing special for me at all.

Certificate: PG

Director: Chris Sanders

Screenwriter: Michael Green (screenplay by), Jack London (based on the novel by)

Starring: Karen Gillan, Harrison Ford, Cara Gee

Genre: Adventure, Family

Runtime: 100 Minutes

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

I have never read call of the wild, so other then being a story about a dog, I had no idea what this film was actually going to be about.  All I knew was that I didn’t want the dog to die in the end.  SPOILER ALERT! He doesn’t!

Call of the Wild is about Buck, a loveable if cumsy dog, who gets stolen from his cozy home and sold to dog traders, who in turn sell him on to be a sled dog in the Yukon during the height of the gold rush.  Some of his masters are kind and gentle, and some of them…are not.  Then he meets John Thornton, who takes him on an adventure that will change his life.

I am going to state right here and now, that this film is undoubtable for kids.  Adults will find very little of interest here.  They can stamp the label of ‘20th Century Studios’ on this thing as many times as they like, but this has the words DISNEY plastered all over it in neon flashing lights.  Everything from the moustache twirling villain, complete with twirlable moustache, to the overly cartoonish expressions of the CGI dog, there can be no doubt that Disney Studios had there hands all over this.

I understand why the dog had to be computer generated I really do.  You couldn’t get a real dog to do half of the action shots required, not without PETA or the RSPCA beating down your front door with clubs.  And dogs don’t have the facial expression rage that they gave to Buck for this film either.  But there were some scenes where suspension of belief just wasn’t enough to make you buy that this wasn’t a real dog.  They should either have made the whole thing an animated movie or used a real dog and risk those angry club wielders.

All in all, the heart of the story is good, even if nothing really happens.  This film is very light on plot, but it is the interactions between Buck and the various members of supporting cast, because let’s be honest, the dog really is the star of the show, that helps to drive the plot.  The early part of the story, when Buck is working on the postal sled is by far the best part of the film, it’s where the most action happens and when the most character development happens.  Until the very end obviously.  

Dan Stevens is done a massive disservice with the character he is given to play.  He is meant to be the villain of the piece, but he is given neither the screen time nor story to really develop that role.  Instead he just comes off as a crazy maniac blaming a dog for all his woes.  Not a good look on him I’m afraid.

If you have kids, they will probably love this film for Buck’s cartoonish antics, but adults beware, there is not a lot here for the likes of us.

Call of the Wild is out in UK cinemas now.


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