Harrison Ford and a team of computer programmers aim to steal your heart in Call of the Wild but fell short of making a emotional impact.
The film is enjoyable from start to finish as you follow Buck, an entirely CGI, massive dog. Buck goes through a spiritual journey as he answers the call of wild and embraces his wolf ancestry.
Call of Wild also stars Harrison Ford as John Thornton, Buck’s human friend who is there to help our furry protagonist with his good and genuine old man heart.
The film is fun, heartfelt and exciting, but loses its impact through a rapid plot and a dog that is just too CGI.
The film’s rapid plot allows several story arcs to be told while showcasing the main arc of Buck’s journey of leaning into his wolf nature. It is a lot of fun as a viewer. Buck is an enjoyable character on screen at any given point in the plot. His interactions with the humans are fun and heartfelt, whether they are helping him or hurting him. The interactions between Buck and Thornton are especially enjoyable. Ford does an excellent job sharing a scene with a dog that is not actually there. This brings us to the film’s biggest problem: Buck’s appearance.
The filmmakers choosing to make Buck CGI makes complete sense. The dog is supposed to be very large for a domestic pet. Finding the right breed of dog that fits the size and also is extremely well trained for what the role requires would have been nightmare. However, it is very clear to the viewer that Buck is not real. His appearance never really fits into reality, his eyes are VERY expressive, (something 2019’s Lion King remake should make note of. Yes, it is possible) and his fur looks a little too perfect.
It seems like the filmmakers understood this and decided to push slightly away from having the dog too realistic to avoid something uncanny and disturbing to the viewer. A good example of trying to make something CGI too realistic was a mistake Sonic the Hedgehog almost made and taught a lesson to the entire industry.
The film’s plot also moves way too fast for the viewer. There are at least three stories that take place in the film that do not connect or reference each other too much outside of the appearance of Harrison Ford. These plots do take place with characters that play their role well, but once that story is done, almost none of them return.
Although Buck clearly appears to not be real, his journey is still emotional and heartfelt largely thanks to Harrison Ford’s character and his own journey.
I would recommend this film to any dog lovers, or all those Harrison Ford fans that just can’t get enough of him in his old age. Ford does an amazing job, but the plot just moves too rapidly for the viewer to fully appreciate what is happening to Buck and Ford. Did I cry in this movie? Yes. Does that make it a must-see film? No, but I still think it’s worth your time if everything else showing in the theatre just doesn’t interest you. I give this film a 3 out of 5.
The opinions expressed in this paper are not necessarily those of Winona State University, the Minnesota State Colleges and University system, or the Winona State University student body.