Review: 'The Call of the Wild' is a family crowd-pleaser

(Twentieth Century Fox)

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THE WILD — The classic Jack London novel "The Call of the Wild" has received yet another update, and it’s more of a crowd-pleaser than I was anticipating.

My hopes weren’t incredibly high for this film. I felt the story had been done so many times. And while the computer-generated dog wasn’t as creepy as all the cats in that movie from last year, the dog was a little off, and I wasn’t sure I’d get used to it during the movie.

By the time the credits rolled, I realized I had a pretty good time at the movies. I think your family will, as well.

Here are some reasons I think "The Call of the Wild" is a strong adaptation and great for a night out with the family:

It’s a great mix of adventure, comedy and heart

One of the big things this movie had going for it was the strong source material. At a run time of just an hour and 40 minutes, the movie obviously had to cut out a fair amount from the 232-page book. But I think the filmmakers kept the soul of the story intact and gave us plenty of action.

The movie is an adventure, and Buck the dog is at the center of it all. Amid canine battles, avalanches, high-speed dog sleds and fisticuffs, this movie keeps you entertained.

In addition to the adventure, "The Call of the Wild" has a fair amount of humor and a lot of heart. You’ll find yourself smiling more often than not, and at times you’ll laugh out loud. Buck manages to get himself into some precarious and humorous situations.

Harrison Ford is still a movie star and has that witty charm and comedic timing we remember from some of his classic films. The movie also manage to tug at the heartstrings and get you emotionally invested in the characters. From Buck to John, Perrault and Francois, we care about these characters and where they’ll end up by the end of the film.

Harrison Ford and Dan Stevens make a good match

I’m not saying this is Ford's best role of his career, or that he should receive accolades, but he’s enjoyable to watch on the screen and plays the part of John Thornton with ease. His connection with Buck seems real, and his love of the great unknown feels palpable.

In addition to Ford, Dan Stevens also does a great job in the role of Hal. I’m a fan of Stevens’s work, but I had no idea he was in this movie, and I was happy to see him here. You don’t like his character at all, but that means he did a fine job in the role. The scenes he shares with Ford have an ease and authenticity to them.

It’s beautiful to look at

Some of the outdoor scenes in this film are clearly computer-generated, but much of the beauty of our great world is caught on camera — and it’s breathtaking. Much of the film was shot in British Columbia, Canada. While I’d personally like to get out of the cold right now, I think I’d make an exception to visit some of these places.

The cinematography itself isn’t award-winning caliber, but the natural vistas are. For me, that’s enough reason to watch the film.

It has its problems

This isn’t an amazing film. The story is known by most, so there aren’t going to be a lot of surprises if you’ve read the book or seen earlier film iterations.

There are also some pacing issues here and there, and some of the slapstick comedy moments didn’t land for me. Those are minor grievances, however, for a movie I wasn’t interested in seeing in the first place.

Is it worth seeing?

"The Call of the Wild" is worth watching if your family wants an enjoyable night out at the movies. The kids will love the adventure and dogs, and parents will enjoy the story progression and — let’s be honest — the dogs.

As mentioned, this isn’t a perfect movie, but overall it’s a great family film that both the parents and kids will enjoy.

"The Call of the Wild" is rated PG for some violence, peril, thematic elements and mild language.

John Clyde

About the Author: John Clyde

John has grown up around movies and annoys friends and family with his movie facts and knowledge. He also has a passion for sports and pretty much anything awesome, and it just so happens, that these are the three things he writes about. Contact him on Twitter at @johnnypclyde.

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John has grown up around movies and annoys friends and family with his movie facts and knowledge. He also has a passion for sports and pretty much anything awesome, and it just so happens, that these are the three things he writes about.


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