The Call of the Wild is a mesmerizing classic novel from Jack London about a dog’s journey to primal nature. The novel was a thrilling experience for readers with its brave canine protagonist and rich descriptions of the Klondike Gold Rush. However, its latest film adaptation was nothing more than an assemble of overused CGI.
In a time when movies like Lion King (2019) showcased photorealistic CGI, The Call of the Wild’s visual effects are cartoonish and make every critter and setting look fake.
The abnormal mix of CGI and live-action are supposed to make the adventure more immersive for the movie-goers. Unfortunately, it ends up doing the opposite. The clumsy, cartoonish CGI makes Buck look unrealistic throughout the movie. His facial expression are rendered to look more human-like and you will not feel him like a real dog even for a second of the movie. During the moments when Harrison Ford hugs or physically interact with Buck, we can clearly see him also becoming CGI. The bright lit background setting makes this even clearly visible.
Many of the major action scenes of the movie are also ruined by the CGI visual effects. The scene where Perrault and François are escaping from an avalanche looks more like a video game.
The main characters of the movie are played by Harrison Ford, Bradley Whitford, Omar Sy, and Cara Gee. The performances of the actors feel odd logically from time to time. It is clear that they are on set, in front of a green screen. But, onscreen the actors fail to make us feel that they in a snowstorm, freezing. This adds to the failure of the movie to generate a successful suspension of disbelief.
The makers of the movie are pushing more political correctness and family friendliness into the movie than its source material. The characters are made racially diverse to appeal to a global audience. This is ironic considering the fact that Jack Landon was notoriously racist. The battles between Buck and Spitz are less deadly and the violence in many other scenes are toned down.
The Call of the Wild was one of the definitive novels of American Literature. The movie, however, fails to capture the essence that the classic novel put forward.