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The Call of the Wild Movie Review - Heartwarming Adventure

CGI dogs may or may not be distracting to audiences.

Reviewed by on Feb 21, 2020
Rating: 4 Star Rating

Kidzworld saw the adventure The Call of the Wild starring Harrison Ford as a lonely fellow who bonds with a wonderful dog, changing both their lives. Will CGI dogs be distracting? Check our review.

In The Call of the Wild, based upon the classic novel by Jack London, Buck is a big-hearted St. Bernard/collie mix dog who is stolen from his peaceful California home and sold as a sled dog during the Yukon gold rush of the 1890’s. Buck’s new masters in the far north are strong and kind, others are cruel but when he ends up with lonely, depressed woodsman John Thornton (Harrison Ford), both of them are in for big life changes.

The Call of the Wild Trailer

 

 

Stolen

Big, feisty dog Buck lives in the country in the home of a judge and his family. He spends his days knocking things over and chasing rabbits but he is still much loved. When he is spotted by a man who wants to sell him as a sled dog to gold prospectors way up in the Klondike, he is stolen, taken via train to a remote frozen outpost and bought by mailman Perrault (Omar Sy) and his companion Francoise (Cara Gee).

Mailman Perrault and BuckMailman Perrault and BuckCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

He has to learn to be part of a sled team. As he grows closer to his new masters who begin to love him, lead sled dog Spitz becomes jealous and forces Buck to fight. Finally Buck wins and Spitz wanders off into the night. Buck is now lead dog.

Buck becomes lead sled dogBuck becomes lead sled dogCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Mail and New Master

With brave Buck in the lead, the mail gets delivered to remote areas in record time. The locals love their mail and Buck feels like part of an important team until Perrault gets word that the mail route is being cancelled. He will have to sell the dog team. Many of the dogs are mixed breed, older or weaker.

Mailman Perrault says goodbye to BuckMailman Perrault says goodbye to BuckCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

A cruel, novice citified prospector named Hal (Dan Stevens) buys the whole team but has no idea how to work with them or run a sled. He has a mean assistant who tries to beat the dogs when they can’t pull the sled but, having met Buck several times on the trail, John Thornton, stops him and shows Hal how to make the sled actually work. He worries about sweet and strong dog Buck.

Thornton fights with Hal over the dogsThornton fights with Hal over the dogsCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Buck Rescued

Concerned about the dogs, Thornton follows Hal’s group to find that he has gone off trail and the dogs are struggling terribly to pull the sled. They are exhausted. Thornton finds them and keeps the dogs from being hurt but can’t stop Hal from forcing the team to cross an iced-over river. Buck, lying exhausted, is left behind and Thornton takes him home with him to his lonely cabin.

Thornton and Buck become best friendsThornton and Buck become best friendsCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Recovering, Buck looks for his team. Thornton tells him they are “gone”. Later, in town, Thornton, sad about the death of his young son and his broken marriage, is drinking at the saloon when Hal comes in and attacks him. The team ran off and he is sure Thornton knows where gold really is. When it is found that Hal is carrying a forbidden gun, he is thrown out into the street swearing vengeance.

Thornton argues with HalThornton argues with HalCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

New Adventure

Thornton and Buck bond as good buddies and, remembering that his young son wanted to go with his dad on a far north adventure off the beaten track, Thornton decides that he and Buck can make the trip. They take a canoe, go over rapids and survive and face other wilderness challenges until they find an old, abandoned prospector’s cabin and move in. Buck meets a pack of wolves and is attracted to a beautiful while female wolf. After Buck and Thornton discover that the local river is full of huge gold nuggets, they settle in for the rest of the summer.

Thornton and Buck on their adventureThornton and Buck on their adventureCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Call of the Wild

Buck begins to spend more and more time with the white wolf and her pack, learning to hunt their way and become more and more like them. He still returns to his friend Thornton who starts to realize that Buck may have found his true destiny. When Hal suddenly shows up demanding gold and revenge, will Thornton and Buck survive his attack? What is the future for this lonely man and his best canine friend?

Will Buck answer the call of the wild?Will Buck answer the call of the wild?Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Wrapping Up

Harrison Ford is in his grumpy but likeable old guy mode in The Call of the Wild and you do grow to love both the character and Ford’s performance. The CGI Buck and the rest of the various “packs” are sometimes effective and other times…not so much.

Computer generated BuckComputer generated BuckCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

This may be distracting to some audience members but, after a while, the dog grows on you and, like you might have for the Jungle Book and Lion King CGI critters, you won’t care so much that he isn’t “real”.

Ford as grumpy but likable ThorntonFord as grumpy but likable ThorntonCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

The film might not be for young kids who could easily be upset by the fates of some of the animals (although nothing too brutal is ever shown in detail..just “set up”) but dog lovers and Ford fans alike should really get into the story whether familiar with the classic novel or not.

Buck gets the mail delivered in record timeBuck gets the mail delivered in record timeCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

The scenery is breathtaking and the tale of Buck and his journey is involving and entertaining. If you’ve ever felt truly bonded to a pet, you can understand the relationship between Ford’s lonely character and his new best friend. We got swept up in the tale and can award four stars.

The Call of the Wild Movie Review: 4

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

See The Call of the Wild in theaters now.

Are You Bonded to a Pet?

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