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Review: The Call of the Wild (PG)

Written by Film

The new adaptation of Jack London’s 1903 is sentimental, but misses its mark in convincing the audience of its cinematic world. Directed by the animation genius Chris Sanders, his latest live-action debut plays safe and softens the brute reality of the novel. 

The film is set in the 19th Century around Buck, a St. Bernard and Scottish Shepherd mix who is abducted from his lavish domestic life, to be taken North where sledge dogs are needed to help during the Klondike Gold Rush. A random meeting in Alaska connects Buck and Thornton but sends them on their separate ways. In this taxing adaptation process, Buck is purchased as a sledge dog by several masters, suffering abuse from some. But Fate brings salvation to Buck in the form of an unexpected adventure, setting him on course for a whole new world which awaits him beyond civilization.  

Technology can create an unbelievably believable world with its advancements, which can be a gift (for instance, Avatar) or a curse (for instance, Lion King). Sander’s Buck immediately garners the viewer’s camaraderie with his puppy eyes and spirited charm. The CGI turns Buck into a Seer with an ability to sense Thornton’s grief and drinking habit or halt at his plea, much to the dismissal of his master which distracts the flow of the film. 

The screenplay turns the narrative into a rocky road, as it stumbles from one emotion to another in a matter of minutes. The visuals of a wild Alaska are mesmerizing and transport the viewers with its transcendent quality. Ford is the poignant core of the film, with an omnipotent quality exceeding the mortal abilities in order to burn the bridge of master-owner relationship between humans and animals. Overall, the film in its light-heartedness appears as a good effort but makes no promise of sticking with you till the end. 

Rating: 3/5

Last modified: 11th March 2020

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