Finnegan On Films: ‘The Call Of The Wild’ Is Utterly Charming And Highly Recommended

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Our movie guy, James Finnegan, says ‘The Call of the Wild’ is a lovely family film that won’t disappoint…

As we face into another weekend with the latest ‘Orange Weather’ warning, it seemed an appropriate choice to go and see “The Call of the Wild”, in case I could pick up some helpful hints and tips – and I am delighted I did.

Previous versions of this Jack London story have starred Clark Gable and Charlton Heston.

They were part of the Disney Sunday afternoon television staples typically showing animals who were more adaptable, intuitive and, frankly, honourable than some of the human characters.  This is a most worthy addition to the genre.

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Harrison Ford in ‘The Call Of The Wild’.

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‘The Call of the Wild’ is the story of Buck, a large St Bernard crossbreed dog living in the comfortable Californian surroundings of his master Judge Miller (a lovely cameo performance by former West Wing actor Bradley Whitford).

Unfortunately for Buck, big and strong dogs are wanted by unscrupulous dognappers, looking to supply the demand for same in the Yukon during the Gold Rush.

Buck experiences the worst of human traits on his voyage, but despite this, retains his own good nature, returning a lost harmonica to a man called John Thornton (Harrison Ford) and being sold to Perrault  (Omar Sy) and Francoise (Cara Gee), who run a mail dogsled, delivering post around the Yukon.  It will come as no surprise that Buck wins over everyone, human and animal, bar the pack leader, a Husky called Spitz.

Buck and John Thornton meet again meet again on the mail trail.  If you are looking to get someone to play a grizzly curmudgeon, with layers of internal pain, I cannot think of anyone currently better than Harrison Ford.

Better still, also use him as the voice of the Narrator, and you have the perfect match.

Unfortunately, the arrival of the telegraph wire means the end of the need for the mail sled. The dog team are bought by Hal, a thoroughly nasty piece of work played by Dan Stevens, who stops just shy of twirling his moustache as the villain of the piece, and who takes an instant dislike to Buck.

Fortunately Thornton comes to Bucks aid, and so they are together for the rest of the film against all comers, human and natural.

The two bond as they journey in the wilderness and it should be noted that the part of Buck is not played by a series of well-trained stunt dogs but by Terry Notary, by use of CGI technology and hundreds of technicians if you are a movie geek like me who waits to the end to read the credits of a film.

There are some parts, brief and insinuated rather than graphically shown, that smallies might find upsetting, hence the PG rating.

However, I intend to bring my eight year old granddaughter, who is absolutely mad about doggies, to see this on a big screen.

A special shout out to John Powell for an excellent soundtrack and Chris Sanders who directs an utterly charming and highly recommended family film. Enjoy!

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