THE CALL OF THE WILD [BLU-RAY] (2020)
SYNOPSIS: Adapted from Jack London's beloved literary classic, The Call Of The Wild vividly brings to life the story of a big-hearted dog named Buck, and John Thornton (Harrison Ford), the man Buck must learn to trust. Abruptly uprooted from his pampered lifestyle in sunny California, Buck finds himself in the exotic wilds of the Alaskan Yukon. As the newest dog on a mail delivery sled team during the turbulent Gold Rush days of the 1890s, Buck has left behind a once comfortable life for one of hardship and survival. Life again changes dramatically for Buck when he meets Thornton, a loner-turned-adventurer, and it's clear that the two are destined to experience the adventure of a lifetime. Navigating through an environment that is as unforgiving as it is spectacular, the journey profoundly transforms both man and dog. With its unique blend of intense live action and cutting-edge animation, The Call Of The Wild is a visually stunning experience featuring realistic, emotionally authentic characters.
Instead of employing real dogs, there’s a lot of noises about the usage of CGI canines in The Call of the Wild. Of course given the photorealistic looking The Jungle book and The Lion King, the technology is able to bring a new level of emotions to the main character which even a real-life, well-trained canine can’t. That said, perhaps we are the handful that is grateful for the usage here.
Buck, a heavy St Bernard-Scotch Collie mix leads a pampered life as the pet of Judge Miller. But one night, he is kidnapped and sent to freezing Yukon where he worked as a sled dog delivering mail with his new master, Perrault (Omar Sy). Beginning his newfound life in the wild, Buck slowly learns about the treachery of humans- a greedy prospector Hal (Dan Stevens) and the love, generosity of his fourth master, John Thornton (Harrison Ford). And lastly, the wild life that Buck is destined for.
Based on a classic story by Jack London, The Call of the Wild is a family-friendly adventure that features both an excellent grizzled Harrison Ford and a grizzled CG lead. There’s no lack of heart-pounding moments such as Buck and teammates escaping an avalanche or Buck gaining leadership over the mean-spirited alpha dog, Spitz. Plenty of heart-warming, believable scenes between John and Buck that makes this flick a step better than the usual wave of forgettable dog movies liked A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog’s Way Home. It must be added that Harrison Ford only appear in the second half of the movie despite Ford being heavily featured on the cover and publicity materials.
Coming back to the topic of employing CGI for the animal cast. Honestly, there’s hardly a moment in the entire 100 minutes movie where you are distracted by the CG characters. I’ll bet many will complain of Buck being too human-like but not to worry, the mannerisms are never too exaggerated to turn into a misstep. Director Chris Sanders, a veteran animator who has directed Lilo & Stitch and How to Train Your Dragon delivers an old-school adventure with lots of heart and well-meaning themes. It’s the first film to be branded under the 20th Century Studios label but rest assured, it’s going to sit perfectly inside the Disney vault for years to come.
It’s All About Buck is a three part features which mainly focus on the origins of the novel (with London’s great-granddaughter), motion-capture of Buck which was assisted by a performer onset and the computer generated effects.
The World of the Wild takes a brief look at the locations and set designs.
A Man and his Dog interviews Han Solo and Chewie sorry I mean Harrison Ford and his involvement in the project.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack is immersive and robust with lots of ambient outdoor sound effects liked the avalanche or the rapid river sequences. Visual quality is excellent and detailed as you can tell from the close-ups of animal fur and facial expressions.
Review by Linus Tee