Movie Review: ‘Call of the Wild’

Matthew Carter, Staff Writer

The Call of the Wild was a good and inspiring film made after the original book written in 1903. The movie follows the adventures of Buck, a large and ambitious St. Bernard/Farm Collie on his journey from his townhome in California all the way to the wilds of Yukon, Canada.

The movie takes place during the Klondike Goldrush, recently after gold was discovered, causing sled dogs to be in high demand.

Buck was torn from his home and brought all the way to Canada where he quickly became a sled dog for a mailman, played by Omar Sy. During his time as a sled dog is when Buck started to adjust to the wild and became more familiar with his animal instincts. 

Buck’s career as a sled dog soon came to a halt when the telegraph found it’s way to town, abolishing the need for letters. Eventually, Buck found his way into the arms of John Thorton, and old man seeking adventure and peace after his son’s untimely death.

Together the two of them adventure off the map into land unexplored by man. After finding a place to settle for while near a river rich with gold, Buck meets a pack of wolves, and becomes more in touch with the wild than he ever had before.

One of the key things I enjoyed about this film was the way it really humanized Buck. Even being a dog and never being able to speak, I could read Buck easily. He made big decisions, put others before himself, and overcame his problems. You can also really tell the emotions he’s feeling, and the reasons behind the things he does.

He was by far the most complex character of the story, starting as a spoiled and mischievous house dog who worked his way to becoming a loyal animal and a survivor. The dog was CGI, and while I believe the movie would have been much better having they trained an actual dog, they really did a great job at bringing Buck to life.

The movie also has beautiful and breathtaking scenery from the great snowy mountains, to the tree-covered hills of the forests.

While the star of the movie was Buck and most of the other characters aren’t named in the film, both the casting and acting were done well. The one character that was given a name was John Thorton, the old man seeking adventure.

Thorton was portrayed by none other than legend Harrison Ford, most commonly known for past roles as Hon Solo in the Star Wars movies and Indiana Jones in the Indiana Jones trilogy. While his role could have been played by several actors, Ford did do a fine job as Thornton.

The one flaw I noticed with his character was that you couldn’t really make too much sense of his back story. The death of his son is what inspired him to go seeking adventure beyond the map, but besides that detail, there isn’t much mention of his son, and Ford seemed more like a spirited old man rather than someone who had suffered a great loss.

One more small peeve I had with the film was its’ slow start. The advertising for the film was surrounding Buck’s adventures in the outdoors with Thornton, but he spent an awfully long time as a sled dog for a mailman before Thornton ever became his master. The pair didn’t even set out on their adventure until about halfway through the movie. 

Even with the slow start, The Call of the Wild had a promising amount of action and adventure throughout the entirety of the film. The story was very strong and inspiring, encompassing the themes of loyalty and destiny.

We got to follow the journey of Buck, who was loyal to those around him, even attempting to put those who abused him out of the way of danger. He was resilient, and constantly risked his life for the people and animals he loved or even those he didn’t know. Everyone could learn a thing or two from Buck. 

The Call of the Wild also did a more than excellent job encasing destiny. Buck was always a little too large and too wild to fit in at the small town he was originally living in. After he was taken to the great outdoors, it slowly became more and more clear that it was his destiny to live among the animals out there.