MOVIE REVIEW: Call of the Wild (2020)

5.5/5 (Must-See) Distracting and unnecessary CGI, but a powerful, emotional film for the whole family

Vitals

Release Date: 21 February 2020 (USA)
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: Chris Sanders
Writer: Michael Green (screenplay), Jack London (novel)
Official Site: https://family.foxmovies.com/movies/call-of-the-wild
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1h 40min
Starring: Harrison Ford
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Family
Base Score: 4.5 (Super Good)

Review

There is a term in robotics called the “uncanny valley.” It is a challenge for engineers to make a robot that looks humanoid without looking too humanoid. There is a thin line there. If it is crossed, the robot just looks creepy.

That’s what was going on here with our CGI dog. I don’t know if they had a trained dog for actors to act against, or if the actors were just very good. The humans delivered great performances, but the “almost human” dog was a bit creepy.

I think it would have been a whole lot cheaper to have trained dogs doing the same roles. I could see the extraordinary technical achievement in creating the CGI dogs, but it wasn’t perfect. You know in your head that real dogs can’t move that way. The effect comes off as… off. I think the CGI got better as the movie went on. Either that, or I noticed it less. I suspended my disbelief.

In spite of this, the human actors gave very good, very emotional performances.

Now I almost want to go back and see the 1972 version or the 1935 version. Almost.

How I Score Movies… Read More…

Modifiers

Is it worth 3D, IMAX, or any other special viewing? A regular theater screen is just fine. It doesn’t have to be super big.
Would I see it again? This is a remake of a remake of a novel. Now I know the plot. That’s all I need. I won’t see it again. You should, unless you’ve seen one of the past movies (or read the book).
Should I rent it? Buy it? Most of the movie takes place in the wilderness of Alaska. The majestic views are better on a big screen. The small screen won’t do it justice. If you wanna see it, check it out on the big screen.
Is it family safe? Yes, this is family-safe. The little girl down the isle liked the movie a lot. There was no language that I noticed. There is a little violence, but no blood. Take the whole family. (+.5)
Did it have “the look?” Alaska was purdy to look at. The costumes and sets looked “Old West”ie. It made me grateful to be living here and now. I occasionally marveled at how people had to live back in the “olden days.” All of that being said, the filmmakers did a good job. I wouldn’t give them bonus points.
Did it have “the feels?” I wasn’t expecting any emotional reaction to the film, but there were a couple points where I was rapt to know what happened. I was filled with the exhilaration of danger and triumph. (+.5)

Final Verdict: 5.5/5 (Must-See) Distracting and unnecessary CGI, but a powerful, emotional film for the whole family


Matt loves movies. He sees a lot of them. When he sees a movie, you will see a review here.

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