The Call of The Wild Review – Majestic, Breathtaking, Perfect

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The Call of the Wild, from 20th Century Films, presents the story of Jack London’s John Thornton and an imposing Saint Bernard named Buck, who through fate becomes the majestic, leader he was destined to become.

Directed by Chris Sanders The Call of the Wild, based on the novel by American novelist Jack London, stars Harrison Ford, Karen Gillan, Cara Gee, Omar Sy, Dan Stevens, Bradley Whitford, Jean Louisa Kelly, Omar Sy, Wes Brown, Stephanie Czajkowski, Colin Woodell, Alex Solowitz, Scott MacDonald, and Brad Greenquist.

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The film opens with voice over setting the scene. It is 1897, nearing the turn of the century and modernization, is slowly pushing west. The word, has traveled through cities and towns across America, calling to those with an untamed spirit, hoping to begin again, ready for adventure or in search of Gold.

The Yukon, the furthest point known to man had delivered a mental so precious, powerful and lucrative that even the most unskilled and unprepared make the trek west, some across the great plains, some from the heat of the south, from all points hoping to survive the brutal winter’s and in the summer, after the thaw, find sitting freely in the streams the shining yellow rock that will change the lives of many during what has become known as the Great Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890’s.

This is where the film begins, in California, at the home of Judge Miller, played by Bradley Whitford, where they are preparing for a family feast. Buck, a huge Saint Bernard, is as much a member of the family as the children is home and pretty much has the run of the home.

Buck, we find is not always the most behaved member of the Miller family, and today, as the household staff files past the Judge with tray upon tray all perfectly prepared and visually stimulating from entrees to desserts, the display of mouthwatering, appetizing dining options are a picture perfect picnic.

It would almost be redundant to explain what happens next. Needless to say, our Buck has little or no restraint and when he sees something that catches his attention calling him. He answers. He was banished to the porch after destroying the birthday celebration meal.

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The porch is a cold and lonely place for Buck, as the storms roll in and the thunder and lighting is unsettling. In the distance through the trees, a small light flickers and across the night sky, an unfamiliar voice calls out his name. His curiosity gets the better of him and running across the yard a man tosses food into a cage. Unfamiliar with abuse or poor treatment, as his master is well known, the sudden slam of the door and collar harness are unnerving.

Dognapped. Buck is taken by traders. The ride to wherever is long and lonely. He is poorly treated and beaten at the hands of his new masters. Finally, he breaks free and as he attempts to escape, we see also he is on a ship, nearing Alaska and the beginning of Buck’s metamorphosis.

It is at this place in the story where the wilds of Alaska and the uncertainty of nature, the untested elements of winter’s, the challenges of this new territory become as much the story as Buck and his new life as a mail sled dog. Under his new master’s, Francoise played by Cara Gee and Perrault played by Omar Sy, Buck has had no choice but to wear the restraint of the harness and run out his frustration as he works with the sled team.

Of course, no good thing lasts forever, and one day the government decides to forego the mail delivery and they are ordered to sell the dogs. Once again Buck is sold off to another human who believes beating an animal into submission will result in loyalty.

Today,  after a chance encounter with John Thornton, played by Harrison Ford, Buck, who is stately and unforgettable, has etched a memory in John, who understands the wilderness is not to be challenged. For those prospecting, getting there yesterday is key to squeezing the precious resource from the land. The land, however, is unforgiving, as if it built traps so only those who understood, respected and followed its ways could find its treasure.

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Today, John Thornton who hasn’t felt anything except numbness for years is compelled to find this animal that has called him.

The Call of the Wild is more than cinematically stunning, the story which doesn’t stray far from the original is captivating as is Harrison Ford.

With sweeping vistas, which appear to be the Yukon trail, the cinematography is breathtaking. As a live action/animation hybrid, the film uses cutting edge visual effects and animation technology in order to render the animals in the film as fully photo realistic, and emotionally authentic, characters.

Each set of characters from Judge Miller and his family, to the dog thieves, to Francoise and Perrault present vignettes exacting the truth of the moments in the life of this majestic animal. Like moments in our own lives, days, times, seasons and events, all rolling by in a collage of memories.

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Harrison Ford captures the essence of the man he portrays; a lost soul, who through fate or happenstance, is given the chance to live again. The life he saves when he saves Buck’s life is repaid.

The Call of the Wild, is a perfect film, the animation is so genuine it is impossible to determine which is computerized and what is authenticate. It is a feel good film given new life.

The Call of the Wild opens February 21, 2020. See it.

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