Partly due to TOWIE it seems that Essex is a mecca for vacuous celebrity wannabees with its high streets shrieking to the cry of, ‘Leave it Chardonay! Eee’s not worf it!’. It is the Call of the Wild. Yes once again we’ve shoehorned the title of a film into a dig at chav culture. Call of the Wild is the latest film adaptation of a book by Jack London about a dog called Buck during the Yukon Gold Rush era. He’s a dog desperately in need of dog training as he runs wild about a well to do household leaving a trail of carnage in his wake that ordinarily would have the owners sending him to a doggy Dignitas clinic but instead Buck ends up being kidnapped, beaten and sold to a dog sled driven mail delivery service led by Karen Gillan and, of all people, Omar Sy who we last saw in last year’s underrated but rather good French submarine thriller, ‘The Wolf’s Call’.
Like the other dogs pulling the sled Buck finds himself intimidated by the head dog who rules with his fangs of fear and it’s in unlikely acts of kindness and heroism (at one point Buck swims underwater in an ice capped lake to rescue a woman) that wins him the respect of the other dogs and finally toppling bad dog from his pedestal. Buck now leads the postal sled through danger notably in another improbable scene where he outmanoeuvres the team from a cascading avalanche. All of this is narrated by Harrison Ford as John Thornton mourning the loss of his own son and it’s more than half way through the film until he replaces Omar Sy in the lead human role. Thornton takes Buck under his wing having rescued him from Dan Stevens as Hal, a brutal new owner, driving the dogs into the ground through exhaustion and treacherous conditions and is humiliated by Thorrnton & Buck in a bar room brawl but it sets off Hal on a course of revenge.
Call of the Wild is firmly aimed at kids with Buck and the other animals endearingly cute and initially, though the dog is clearly CGI, it’s a shame that a real dog is not used with CGI supplementing and enhancing any scenes that no dog could be trained to do and the level of photorealism is not quite on a par as seen to brilliant effect in last year’s ‘The Lion King’ remake. At the same time it properly saved the production a huge sum of money having to traipse round the set after a real dog with a pooper-scooper. It’s also a relief that Buck and the rest of the animals don’t start talking or burst into song as is the want for this type of film.
With Ford’s voiceover that puzzle as it turns out to be posthumous Call of the Wild is not perfect but it is a guaranteed kids crowd pleaser and the usual message movie that Buck eventually finds his home after Thornton realized that he has travelled away from his.
Here’s the Call of the Wild trailer…….