The Call of the Wild (2020) Review

Director: Chris Sanders

Genre(s): Adventure, Drama, Kids & Family

Runtime: 100 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG

IMDb Page

Even though I’m really more of a cat person, I still enjoy a piece of media about a cute dog or two. There’s no felines in sight, but The Call of the Wild still manages to work for me. The story’s about a dog named Buck who’s kidnapped (dognapped?) from his California home and brought to the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890s to serve as a sled dog. Along the way, he’ll meet up with adventurer John Thornton (Harrison Ford), and the two will develop a close friendship.

The Call of the Wild is a film about people going on adventures because, well, that’s what true adventurers do. The movie really captures that spirit of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants journey to the ends of the Earth. The emotional moments really put a lump in your throat, so it succeeds as both an adventure picture and as a drama. Harrison Ford is perfectly cast here as a grumpy, semi-hermitic character on the run from his tragic past.

The animals in this feature, including Buck, are computer-generated, which is fine. This disappoints many, but I suppose that that’s just the way cinema is made these days (plus, it’s better than putting actual animals at risk). The Call of the Wild occasionally goes heavy on the special effects, giving it a video-gamey feel, but there’s always some heart to the story that prevents it from becoming a soulless tech demo.

Perhaps because it’s based off of a (famous) novel (by Jack London), this film verges on becoming episodic at times. However, it keeps things together and crosses the finish line a winner. Overall, I think that this is an excellent family-oriented adventure movie. It’s certainly better than the forgettable The Call of the Wild (1972), which has Charlton Heston in the John Thornton role.

My rating is 8 outta 10.

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