Dallas Movie Screening

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Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Call of the Wild

Jack London's beloved 1903 publication of The Call of the Wild has been remade once again. This version stars Harrison Ford, who at 77 looks and sounds the part of the reclusive adventurer, John Thornton, mourning a lost son and an estranged wife, who befriends Buck, a large, active dog who finds himself quite out of his element in the Klondike area of Alaska during the Gold Rush.

Our doggie hero finds himself at odds with his wealthy family, the thief, bad guys, a sled pack, the elements, water, a spirit dog, the landscape, bears, more bad people and ultimately with himself as he senses calls from all around him, including an entire wolf pack as he returns to his roots and all of his inborn instincts as they return. He meets a few who love, respect and support him on his journey.

Buck had been the pet of a Judge and his family and was quite spoiled despite his energy level. Finding himself scolded and banned to the outside, an opportunist seizes the chance to make some money by tricking and stealing Buck and selling him off as a sled dog in the far North. Very far from home in a strange new land, including his first introduction to snow. The two who choose him from a large shipment of dogs for a US postal sled dog route, Perrault and Mercedes, assist him as he adjusts to all the strange surroundings and new demands.

The Call of the Wild is a tale of Buck against the world in all its forms. During the journey, Buck reconnects with his genetic ancestors in real and in cellular level form. This version of Buck moves in amazing ways and emotes very real emotion with people and creatures he encounters. That is because he is computer generated. The story could not have been told with the same level of drama and attachment without CGI.

Buck is actually modeled after an actual dog adopted from a shelter in Emporia KS and is the same breed mix as in the book. The glorious and expansive scenery is also CGI and is relatively seamlessly embedded with the characters. The animals as CGI? Not so much seamlessness but it is only distracting at times. In this case it was a necessary move to achieve all that the producer and directors wanted to convey.
This version of Buck is almost human in his desire to connect with, work hard for and please his human master of the moment.

A good film for families as it is rated PG. May be scary for younger children. Combining man's best friend with adventures in the great outdoors is usually a recipe for success and is a visual treat.
(Review by Cheryl Wurtz)

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