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  • This is a great family movie. It has all the aspects of what makes kids smile. However, this is not the adaption of Jack London's book that I was looking for. In my opinion, in searching for that feel good vibe, it lost the character that defined the original story. Everything was made PG and the raw unforgiving reality of the book was lost in translation. Additionally, the CGI was good, but over used to the nth degree. Its worth a watch, just keep in mind that this movie is a rather loose adaptation.
  • Before writing anything about the film itself let it be noted following.

    (1) Screenplays are usually related to source materials (works of fiction or documentary depictions of factual events and experiences) with the phrase *based on*, which is mostly read as *copied from* (whether a fictitious depiction or reality) although fully faithful account of events and their protagonists almost never happens, so, in all fairness, it might be safer to understand such relation simply as *altered from*.

    (2) Furthermore, CGI has erased strict distinction between live action and animation, introducing a new method and a whole new form of cinematography by blending realistic imagery and kinematics of existing animals (and other fantastic beasts) with anthropomorphic expressions and gestures given to their stylized representation in the world of animation, a trend probably started in 1970's by ILM servicing Star Wars saga, getting (over)exploited in recent followers of the kind, most notably Disney's The Lion King (2019).

    That having been said, in the latest take on Jack London's classic novel, screenwriter Michael Green and director Chris Sanders--apparently intentionally not bound by faithfulness to the original text, particularly avoiding its darker overtones, certainly counting with receptiveness from the audience, especially from those (among us) who have read the novel--have succeeded in meeting a great deal of expectations from the film seeking to be labeled with family entertainment attribute.

    The Call of the Wild is the story of Buck (as main human character, John Thornton, described it), a dog like no other, he'd been spoiled, and he'd suffered, but he could not be broken... Buck's life gets turned upside down during the gold rush of the 1890s, when he was suddenly banished from his home in California and moved, first to Yukon, and then deep into the heart of Alaska, reaching Arctic Circle. *As a newcomer to the dog team delivery service - soon their leader - Buck is having adventure of a lifetime, finally finding his rightful place in the world and becoming the master of his own destiny.*

    By smoothening London's honest account and description of--pursuant to extreme conditions easily understandable--truly violent interaction between people, animals and nature, primarily by minimizing cruel dog beatings at the hands of their masters and brutal, often fatal dog fights, film makers have altered such survival seeking Darwinian world, in which dog eats dog and a man is (often) a wolf to another man, by promoting rather-friends-then-foes approach towards strangers, and, whenever possible, insisting rather on gentleness than harshness of the great wild outdoors, overhauling the classic story to an easier digestible, ergo family friendlier.

    Other qualities include good acting, with Harrison Ford as a stand-out, whose husky calm voice offers narration throughout the film, providing vulnerable yet soothing, almost comforting presence in his appearance as John Thornton, seemingly a gold prospector, but in fact, after losing his loved ones, a son to a deadly fever, and a wife to subsequent collapse of his marriage, no more than a grief-stricken redemption seeker. Also, in the first half of the movie, as a far north delivery service running couple, Omar Sy and Cara Gee are joy to watch in their often, despite all difficulties, comic relief providing roles.

    Film demonstrates commendable seamless integration of CG imagery of beasts and beautiful environments into spectacular cinematography provided by Janusz Kaminski.

    Joyful music, scored by John Powell, is well-paced to follow the speed of onscreen action and reflect the highs and lows in the moods of characters.

    All in all, it is nicely crafted film with the fast-paced story, providing enough dramatic excitement and fun, especially for the younger ones.

    My rating score stops short of perfect, due to a trend described in my second opening note that I cannot easily fall in with, too.

    Finally, on a lighter note, having film menagerie of animals fully CGI-ed renders monitors from American Humane Association superfluous, as even in their absence we can rest assured that *no (real) animals were harmed during the making of this film.*
  • Chris Sanders has made some tremendous family movies at Disney and Dreamworks. Clearly brought up on the great Disney movies of his childhood and preceding it, he has made a career of pairing together unlikely friendships, with unique tools to realise it.

    I have never read the book, and from what I've heard it's clear he has taken the spirit and produced an adaptation something like what Walt Disney would have done. Here is where the film really resonated with me - what would Walt have done?

    Sanders has, perhaps for the very first time, realised what you have to do to make a live action film with a CG animal as your protagonist truly work. We all sat there wondering why Disney's astonishing Lion King remake felt quite so soulless last summer. The reason - there's zero point in making your animals so realistic, to the degree that you can't relate to them. Sanders understood this when taking on Call of the Wild. Buck is a fully realised CG Disney animated animal. Everything bar talking. We relate, empathise, laugh and are moved with what he does because of the character that they've brought to life. It might look real, but then so did Lady, Tramp, Nana, Pongo, Perdita etc in the hand drawn classics within the environments they were in. Imagine if we'd watched those characters without, well, the character. This was the mistake much of The Lion King remake made, and what Sanders knew and steered well away from.

    Buck is fully believable in inhabiting the adventure he takes with a spirited Harrison Ford performance. The film feels like a throwback to the sort of Disney films the studio used to make in both live action, and animation - and at least to this viewer, felt like a revelation, 'penny has dropped' kind of moment for how to animate animals if you want to put them front and centre of a live action movie. Don't let them talk, as that's pulling us out of buying their presence. Yet absolutely make them characters.

    Anthropomorphism people. you have to make them a little bit like us for us to care. Walt knew it. Sanders has learnt all the lessons from the master.

    For the first time in a long while, this felt to me like a film Walt would have made if he was around to oversee the technology advances in animation. This is a proper Disney family adventure movie. Technically groundbreaking, but full of heart and spirit. I suspect it will be considered a classic in years to come.

    How ironic it took a Fox film to do what Disney's live action remake movies have failed to do at this point. Perhaps the studio was destined to become part of their portfolio. Just like Pixar was. Pictures made my filmmakers that want to make the films Disney used to make.

    Don't miss this.
  • Really? How many black mushers were there, with Inuit girlfriends, back in the 1800's. I'm so tired of classic remakes, where the main priority is to show how "culturally diverse" we have become. Just stick to the original script; is that too much to ask?
  • For a $135 million dollar costing financial flop that stars a much ridiculed CGI dog as its main protagonist, The Call of the Wild is a surprisingly watchable family affair that is nowhere near as bad as its terrible trailers or marketing campaign made it look to be.

    Marking his first foray into non-animated feature film-making after well-liked efforts Lilo and Stitch, The Croods and How to Train Your Dragon, director Chris Sanders had a difficult task adapting Jack London's famed source material for the big screen and you can sense the film is never completely comfortable within itself as our computer generated furry friend Buck sets out on an Alaskan adventure filled with life lessons, gold and a grizzled Han Solo.

    It takes us as viewers sometime too warm up to Buck in his current form, something that would not have been the case had Buck been played by some real life pooches (just look at recent effort Togo as an example) and it hurts Call of the Wild in the long run as Sanders tries to invest us into Buck's journey that takes him from spoiled pooch to mistreated captive on his quest to be partnered with Harrison Ford's isolated alcoholic John Thornton.

    On the way to this inevitable pairing, there's a somewhat enjoyable if not overly well-established sub-plot with Omar Sy's mail delivery sled team owner Perrault, which is fine if not particularly memorable and a terrible Dan Steven's appearance as the horrid extremely overplayed villain of the piece Hal but once Thornton arrives on the scene, Call of the Wild becomes a far more enticing experience that showcases the potential of London's source material, too display a likeable scenario of man and dog's friendship.

    It helps that Ford seems as invested in this role as much as his been in the last few decades, delivering one of his better all-round performances in some time as his on screen charisma and enthusiasm helping us forget that Buck is only ever mildly believable in his imaginary form, no doubt necessitated by a raft of situations in the film that would've been impossible to pull off with a real life canine in the role.

    There's not a lot of surprises to be found narratively here, with London's story pillaged and pilfered from in the many years since it was published but with the film's latter half more than making up for a rough beginning and weak segments, this pretty to look at example of financial failure on a big-scale is a film that many will still find highly entertaining and enjoyable.

    Final Say -

    Overcoming some at times hard to take CGI and a poor opening half, The Call of the Wild isn't a new canine classic but its central relationship between a lost human soul and a caring four legged friend makes it an adventure you won't regret taking.

    3 gold nuggets out of 5
  • Very, very loosely based on one of the great adventures of literature, this movie frequently plays more like a 1970s Disney film. While I think it's awesome, using a CGI dog to put him and the others through the harsh action scenes, did they have to make him look so cartoonish in the more personal scenes? A dog's reactions should be that of a dog, not a human. About half of the names in the cast are in blink and you'll miss it cameos, and the film only really comes to life when the focus narrows down to Ford and Buck, getting in touch with nature. It's only the last half hour or so, with them, that keeps me from giving this an even lower score.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    While this film version is indeed a visually-pleasing family adventure epic, it is better suited for those who are not looking for any of Jack London's naturalistic tone. It is what I would deem The Call of the Wild-lite, meaning it does provide the gist of the original story without all of the violence and death.

    In the original novel, violence and death are a part of daily existence in Buck's tumultuous experience, from watching a dog get ripped into literal shreds to committing acts of wild violence himself-at one point, he takes down a bull moose on his own. The latter is proof of his wolfish qualities rising to the surface. None of this is in the film.

    Yet it is understandable to leave that level of violence out of what was intended to be a PG film from its inception, so I can forgive that much. What I cannot forgive is cutting scenes that were significant but had no gore or death-the sled pull competition or Buck saving Thornton from river rapids as two examples. Strange that Sanders created new storylines to fill the holes of what would have been exciting sequences. Oh well.

    It's a fun watch, and definitely heartwarming. At least the ending is pretty faithful, and thank goodness it is the story of Buck and not Thornton for once (mostly).
  • The Call of The Wild is a solid, incredibly well made movie. Buck is an extremely likeable protagonist who goes on a compelling journey of self discovery. Despite being a dog and not having a word of dialogue, Buck is an incredibly interesting, three dimensional character with a well developed arc. The CGI used to bring him to life is amazing. While it doesn't always look natural, Buck's CGI model is so expressive and can cause the viewer to experience a variety of different emotions, despite not even being there. Harrison Ford also does well as the elderly, depressed John Thornton, carrying a great deal of tragedy and mystery about his past throughout the movie. The movie also features stunning cinematography, with several beautiful shots and camera angles. It's a true joy to look at. However, there are a few problems with the movie. For starters, John Thornton narrates a lot throughout the movie, despite not being present for, and therefore having no way of knowing about, the events that he's describing. Another issue is Dan Stevens' character; Hal. Hal is an entirely unnecessary, one dimensional antagonist, who just doesn't work with the story this movie is trying to tell. His presence also completely derails John Thornton's resolution. However, despite these problems, I still recommend The Call Of The Wild. It's a fantastic movie, with an incredible protagonist and stunningly beautiful visuals that you shouldn't miss.
  • Not sure what the critics saw that was so bad with the CGI on buck the dog... if anything the ability of having animal like emotions displayed felt much better than looking at lions trying to speak...I thought the movie was well put together. Harrison Ford does a very simple yet good performance, the narrative is simple and easy to figure out for adults but still very relate-able and, the whole journey of the protagonists is really good a true adventure of self-discovery... What really told me that the movie nailed it, was when in the end I asked my 9 year old, what was it all about... and she goes it's about being you, not letting others tell you what you can or cannot do... and my 12 years old, goes like it's about finding your place in the world...take the kids, have them be quite and listen...they might just get some life lessons out of it.
  • If you like Harrison Ford, or dogs, or animals, or nature, or great feel-good stories, or all of the above, you will enjoy this movie. I can't really think of anything bad about it. I enjoyed every minute of it.
  • To all those moaning that the dogs are cgi, what the heck did you want? Animals being hurt?? Good it's cgi! Nice to see animals NOT being used for a change! Think of what the real animals would have gone through if they were real! Stop complaining
  • The 'professional' movie critics have seen too many movies they forget the magic of them. I didn't have any expectations like the folks i mentioned, yet I surprisingly and not surprisingly love it. Yes the characters are clich√©. But who cares. It provides for good entertainment that kids, especially, will love. I mean who doesn't love a huge smart and caring dog. The dogs are so realistic that i couldn't find any CGI flaw. Their expressions were far better than the (acclaimed) Lion King last rendition. I have 2 dogs, a small and a big one. I can tell you that the dogs expressions and reactions are spot on without being out of touch like the Lion King. For once they don't talk. Although at some point i could easily imagine complete dialogs. Ford's charismatic presence made up for the rest of the movie. I came out of the movie light hearted and happy, unlike after a MacDonald meal that makes you wonder what you just ate.
  • This film was really meant to be a post Christmas family film, and it probably succeeds at that. What really bothered me is that the dogs are completely CGI. I can understand it for the scenes where the animals would be in peril, but for the close intimate scenes between man and dog, it really hurts the film to not have a real dog in the part of Buck. Also, this tale is of a kinder gentler Buck, not the tale in the Jack London novel.

    I might add an extra star if you are just trying to entertain some kids for a couple of hours. For the adults, seeing that Harrison Ford is the old pro he always has been is probably going to save the experience for you.
  • When I first started watching this movie, I didn't think I was going to enjoy it, due to some of the scenes at the start, but as the movie went on, it got more and more BRILLIANT
  • Karynsiegmann21 February 2020
    As it's dads 92nd birthday we went to see a movie I knew he'd love, Call of the Wild. Based on the classic novel by Jack London the movie tells the story of Buck the dog and his adventures as a comfortable city dog to a working dog in The Yukon, this is squarely aimed at the family market, playing down the cruel treatment of sled dogs and the harsh life. The CGI animals were good but didn't take me out of myself. It's schmalzy and cheesy but good fun and I shed a few tears. 3.5 stars George: A very dramatic movie with fantastic scenery of The Yukon! The animal animation was fantastic and Harrison Ford played a good role as the curmudgeonly loner. I remember reading Jack London's novels and I enjoyed this adaptation very much. 4 stars PS Meredith cried several times.
  • I'm sorry, but using a CGI dog for a Jack London story is like using yellow minions in a Godfather movie. I just could not take this seriously, and as a computer enhanced movie it made Harrison Ford look like he was talking to a puppet. I walked out of one scene and wished I had not gone back in. Completely backfired for me. Read the book and use your imagination and you'll be far ahead of this movie. And I feel bad saying this because the acting really was good and the scenery breathtaking. It was a merging of two opposites that didn't work for me.
  • I am not sure how the story in the book goes, but the movie was great! It had adventure, beautiful scenery, laughter, and sadness. The entire film flowed well, it had intensity and kept your thoughts wanting to discover what happened next.
  • To all the people who are complaining that the dogs were CGI, what do you say for a MCU film.

    Do you want them to bring a real life Thanos??

    They did a good job on CGI.
  • twominds792 April 2020
    The first minute becomes apparent that there is no dog. It's a computer generated one . Obvious one and not very good. You lose that human element. A CGI animal is impossible to care for . The film didn't pick up and it couldn't recover .
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Wow, where do I begin with my disappointments. Not only are the dogs fake (CGI generated), but the majority of the film is shot on sets and the "nature" scenes and blowing snow are computer animations. Maybe the producers should've spent less money on a detached walk-through role by Harrison Ford and actually shot the film in the Wild (as the title suggests). I would've enjoyed it better if it was a cartoon movie altogether. The author of this story, Jack London, told a story of man and dog vs. nature, and the cold realities of the frozen north. The movie failed to make us viewers understand the gist of London's message. The dogs were portrayed as human-like in their thinking and actions; much like a Disney-Lion-King aberration.

    Along the way, many parts of of the great London novel were altered or removed, most significantly, the sled-pulling gambling scene that was so important to the book. Also, the film's hero, John Thornton (portrayed lackadaisically by Ford), meets his fate by a manner completely different than what happened in the book.

    Do not see this movie unless you are under the age of 12 (or if you want to take the kiddies to a film). Simply awful, I almost walked out.
  • This is a real people movie. Everything in the movie is so fake and all animals behaves weird. This is the animal version of cats. It's a total distortion of the original fiction. You should not get technology in the hand of wrong people.
  • masonsaul19 February 2020
    The Call of the Wild is a familiar but heartwarming adventure that's surprisingly funny and emotional. The CG dog is great and conveys lots of emotions and the CG in general is also great, though it has moments where it dips in quality. Harrison Ford is amazing and Omar Sy gives a really good supporting performance. Chris Sanders' direction is great and there are some thrilling set pieces. It's well filmed, well paced and the music by John Powell is fantastic.
  • tigr-tigrov22 February 2020
    Made strictly for little kids. I've read a book and was emotionally taken on a great journey with its happy and sad moments. Here, I feel like they took away ALL cruelty in order to make it watchable for little kids, but because of it, I wasn't worried and cared very little. Another thing, didn't feel any connection with Buck's masters, specially with John Thornton. Was going too flat, too predictable, too nice, to the point that it felt fake and unreal. CGI was fine, but it still put off, made me believe less. Movie has some visually beautiful scenes, but nothing more. And again, loooots of great, emotional moments from the book wasn't included in the movie. Feel kinda empty walking out of the theater. If you have little kids - take them, otherwise save your time and money.
  • gcarpiceci3 March 2020
    I can understand a wide use of CGI for a sci-fi movie: space-ships, aliens, remote stars, etc are hardly available for filming; same for dinosaurs and similia. But for God's sake, The Call Of The Wild features forests, woods, snow and dogs...dogs! Why does one need an ordeal of CGI to film such things? Why does one need to create a fake, digital dog (and the wrong one, at that)? One has to wonder how cinema could exist before the invention of CGI.... As if this were not enough, we are then forced to watch a classic of literature bent to the needs of having a Disney family movie... The last touch of this hall of shame which is The Call Of The Wild is that Buck, our hero CGI'd dog, acts like a human. Yes, the dog which is called back to his wild roots, the dog which undertakes this epic journey from human civilisation to the wilderness of the woods, is made look like a human being. The director could not find a better way to give a dog its own dignity than to make him act and look like a human being, the very same acting like beasts in the very same movie....how more stupid can human being be?
  • There just isn't any reason to watch these "fabricated movies" anymore. If want CGI I'd watch a comic-book cartoon which is what this really is and that's a shame. Gone are the days where it took real actors and animals had to interact with each other and then you saw the magic between them. The Oscars should ban any movie that has CGI fakery or have a special category for them that is "special manufactured characters/animals" and not be eligible for best movie. I see a bleak future where ALL movie characters are fake and the human beings and animals are no longer part of the Hollywood magic, only computer nerds and fake reality will exist. Thank god for books and digital copies lol.
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