By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
Jack London’s beloved 1903 novel, “The Call of the Wild” has been adapted to the big screen countless times. There’s the 1923 silent film along with Clark Gable and Loretta Young’s 1935 classic movie and the 1972 version starring Charlton Heston and Maria Rohm.
Now Hollywood is taking another stab at “The Call of the Wild”
with Harrison Ford
(“Star Wars: Episode IX—“The Rise of Skywalker”) perfectly cast as the gruff prospector, John Thornton.
“The Call of the Wild” is a live action adventure from director Chris Sanders (“How to Train Your Dragon”) with CGI animals that look realistic. The other big, gruff star of the film is Buck, the adorable and heroic St Bernard-Scotch collie. His movements and features come courtesy of motion-capture maestro Terry Notary (“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”).
For all the talk surrounding the CGI in “The Call of the Wild,” Sanders and his crew skillfully pull it all together and make this a surprisingly thrilling and dramatic tale. It’s also a beautifully rendered movie with amazing shots of Canada/Yukon that really would even be more breathtaking viewed on an IMAX screen.
The film stays relatively faithful to London’s novel. When we first meet Buck he’s living in Santa Clara, California and giving his owners fits because he’s just so big and spunky. Buck means well even when he’s knocking things around all over the house, demolishing a banquet table filled with food and just being a big, old slobbering dog.
One night while outside of the family home, Buck is kidnapped by a bad guy looking to make some quick cash. The dog is sold and later used and trained for sledding. Buck’s new owners are Perrault (Omar Sy “Night Shift”) and Francoise (Cara Gee TV’s, “The Expanse”). They’re a French-Canadian husband and wife team whose job is to keep their dogs in tip-top shape so they can deliver mail to all the gold hungry prospectors.
It’s rough going at first for Buck. This pampered pooch doesn’t even like getting his feet wet, much less slipping and sliding through snow and ice. He finally gets with the program and becomes the leader of the pack and is soon respected by his fellow canines, not to mention Francoise and Perrault who nearly escape an icy catastrophe but are rescued thanks to Buck’s quick intervention.
Just when it seems that Buck has settled in and found comfort in his new role, things change. Thanks to the telegraph, the sled mail delivery service is no longer needed. Now Buck and his furry friends are going their separate ways.
Buck is purchased by a cold-hearted and evil businessman named Hal (Dan Stevens (“Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts”) and his sister Mercedes (Karen Gillan, “Jumanji: The Next Level” ). Hal will do anything to get his gold even it means using a club on Buck to get him to cross an icy and melting lake.
They don’t listen to old man John Thornton (Ford) who insists they should wait until it’s safe to go through. John has been grieving over the death of his son and it’s as if Buck was sent to console and help him find his way.
Together, John and Buck embark on the adventure of a lifetime which culminates with John finding solace and peace and Buck surrendering to the call of the wild.
“The Call of the Wild” is a delightful, family friendly movie that warms your heart all over again.
Check Out This Trailer For "THE CALL OF THE WILD"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), The Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC), The Alliance Of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ) and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.