You can truly say that The Call of the Wild is a well-known story that has stood the test of time. Written by Jack London in 1903 and required reading for school students for eons, the tale was first adapted to film in 1923 with this current movie being the seventh cinematic adaptation. The familiar story line and admiration for Harrison Ford led me to want to see this movie. Ford has made a career out of playing memorable movie roles from Hans Solo to Indiana Jones and everything in between, like Blade Runner. Ford has the perfect grizzled look and personality for lead character John Thornton, and he is also the narrator and the only big name in this film, but the supporting cast all play their parts well.
This adaptation of this beloved literary classic brings man’s best friend Buck, a St. Bernard/Scotch Shepherd mix, to life through computer generation. In a recent interview, Ford said that Buck’s stand in was actually a Cirque du Soleil performer and it seemed awkward to be scratching a man’s tummy rather than a dog. Some authenticity is lost through computer technology, but I felt that Buck’s eyes were expressive and at times almost made him seem human. Don’t expect a lot of action, but much scenic beauty showcasing the Alaskan outback, especially during Thornton and Buck’s canoeing adventure. Ford is a big proponent of saving the environment and London was an early environmentalist.
Buck is a big-hearted, rambunctious dog whose life is turned upside down when he is taken from his idyllic domestic California home and transplanted to the wilds of the Alaskan Yukon during the 1890s Gold Rush. You will smile as he adjusts to the snow, while becoming a sled dog, and your heart will be won over as he bonds with humans and dogs alike along the way. When he becomes a mail carrier dog, Perrault, played by Omar Sy, tells him, “We don’t just carry the mail, we deliver hope and love,” and he seems to understand.
Having grown up in Sonoma County where Jack London spent much of his life, I have a vested interest in him from hearing legendary tales and going to places named after him like Jack London Historic State Park.
A little background on London, who unknowingly did research when he spent almost a year in the Yukon: He originally wrote this adventure as a short story for The Saturday Evening Post, but the word count quickly grew to become a book. It is well documented that London made it a practice to write at least a thousand words a day. This prolific output produced more than 50 works of fiction and nonfiction, and hundreds of short stories, essays, newspaper and magazine articles, speeches and letters translated into as many as 70 languages in his short 40-year life span. This movie is for you if you like Harrison Ford and are interested in seeing man’s best friend go robotic.
Movie times: click here
Genre: Drama, Action and Adventure
Director: Chris Sanders
Written by: Screenplay by Michael Green; based on book by Jack London
Actors: Harrison Ford, Karen Gillan, Cara Gee, Dan Stevens, Bradley Whitford
Running Time: 110 minutes
Rating: PG (for some violence, peril, thematic elements, and mild language)