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The Call of the Wild

Based on Jack London’s 1903 adventure novel, ‘The Call of the Wild’ has been adapted numerous times. From the sublime with Clark Gable and Charlton Heston appearing in versions, to the ridiculous with a Charlie Brown/Snoopy cartoon adaptation and also appeared in Japanese anime comics. Such has been the story’s enduring appeal. The latest remake doesn’t change the formula too much with the wintry chills of the snowy wilds still strong.

A large St Bernard dog, Buck, lives with his master in comfort. A domesticated pet, his idyll is shattered when events drag him away from his cosy existence. Forced to survive a harsh landscape and harsher people, he eventually meets skilled hunter John (Harrison Ford). Enjoying a new life of freedom which takes him to the wilds of Alaska, Buck learns to be true to himself while having adventures he never thought possible.

A mix of CGI and live-action, ‘The Call of the Wild’ maintains the original tale’s sense of wonder. Although aimed at a younger audience, it creates an enchanting atmosphere to which all could relate. The themes of being true to yourself are deftly interwoven into the narrative so the film can be enjoyed on another level. Much has been made of using CGI animals instead of real ones. Although occasionally distracting, this tactic aids in showing how Buck and his canine friends feel about the humans surrounding them. The ‘real’ cast such as Ford do a fine job in interacting with their computerised companions, injecting genuine pathos.

‘The Call of the Wild’ had an enormous budget and it shows. The scenic landscapes in which Buck and company travel are spectacular. Whilst much of it would have been CGI enhanced, the natural scenery looks even more dazzling due to the strong cinematography. The film moves at a good pace, never out-staying its welcome. It may seem old fashioned in terms of story-telling but that’s appropriate for this type of movie. It does justice to London’s words with its spirit of always seeking adventure ever present.

Despite using a multitude of modern technical tricks to craft its tale, ‘The Call of the Wild’ succeeds in having an old-world feel. It manages to easily transport you to another time as the dangers of humanity and wilderness converge. It proves once again a story can endure for decades if written well with this adaption one of the best made yet.

Rating out of 10: 7

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