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Call of the Wild

Beautiful to look at and full of adventure for the whole family, 2020's THE CALL OF THE WILD is a great outdoor adventure.

Adapted from Jack London's classic novel, it's the story of huge but lovable Buck. Dog-napped from his pampered existence living with a wealthy judge (Bradley Whitford) and his family, he's taken to Alaska to become a sled dog.

The scenes of his capture and the violent man that dominates him were a bit too intense for our 6 year old grandson, even though the violence takes place in the form of a shadow.

Buck escapes and his adventures in the Yukon territory are off and running.

He first works as a sled dog for the Canadian postal service, under the kind eye of Perrault, well played by Omar Sy (Jurassic World) and his beautiful partner Francoise (Cara Gee). When she is pulled under an ice flow, Buck's rescue attempt becomes the first of many large scale action sequences, all leveraging $130 million+ in CGI effects.

I can't tell how much of this film was shot in real settings or how many of the animals ever actually existed, but everything looks incredible and the outdoor settings are jaw dropping.

Buck eventually finds his way to John Thornton, a lonely man reeling from the death of his son and the end of his marriage. Seeking solitude, he and Buck cross paths again and again, until they finally connect far into the Northern territories.

Harrison Ford is at his big-white-beard, grizzled old man best, bringing real heart to the story.

Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey, Beauty and the Beast) is a clueless. wealthy guide who crosses paths with Buck and John once too often. His outrageous costume is made with an actual swath of cloth from the time period. I guess there was no "blending in" for the English on a quest for gold back in the day.

At a brisk 100 minutes, the film is loaded with jaw dropping scenery, animal encounters of every variety and enough frigid weather to make you reach for your coat.

Composer John Powell (Jason Bourne, United 93) wraps everything in a big adventure score and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski (Saving Private Ryan, Schindler's List) makes the most of every landscape, putting you on the rapids in a canoe, hurtling across ice covered lakes and capturing solitude in the middle of nowhere with equal skill.

Buck is a fully digital rendering, which makes Ford's acting even more impressive when you realize he's playing off a stick. Between this and "The Lion King" the days of animal actors are over.

Visually impressive, fun for all ages, but maybe a bit too intense for the youngest in the audience, THE CALL OF THE WILD gets a solid B.

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