2006
Rated: G
Genre: Action Adventure Drama
Directed By: Frank Marshall
Running Time: 2:00
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date: 7/03/06
DVD Features:
Commentary - Frank Marshall - Director; Paul Walker - Actor; Don Burgess - Director of Photography
2. Frank Marshall - Director; Pat Crowl - Producer
Deleted Scenes
Featurette - Running With The Dogs: The Making Of EIGHT BELOW
EIGHT BELOW

 

When this arrived into theaters, I was so sure this was a sequel to the flop “Snow Dogs”, but it really isn’t. That film seems to have been a dry hump to the build up for what occurs in “Eight Below” a remake of “Nankyoku Monogatari” which bears the same essential plot. And I’m surprised it takes dogs for Paul Walker to finally give what I considered a good performance. “Eight Below” is an exciting interlude to the documentary of “March of the Penguins” which has reached much success, and it’s an exciting family film that really explores the world of dog sledding, and the science behind it. But “Eight Below” is basically a two-fold film.

On one side of the coin, it’s an intriguing odyssey picture about a man who has to help a scientist across a mountain to discover a rock from Mercury, and on the flipside, it’s about dogs whom were taught to help their master and rely on one another whom are forced to live without their master and rely on one another to keep alive. “Eight Below” is grueling from beginning to end, not because of the harsh conditions, but because of the inherent dangers looming for everyone involved. It’s also rather frightening for children watching who will catch on that something is bound to happen that will break apart the solid relationship between Walker’s character and his dogs, but “Eight Below” has a lot going for it that warrants a watch from its audience.

It’s wholesome family adventure, but it’s also realistic and never shies away from the potentiality of death, and that’s truly reality. As for watching this with small children, I wouldn’t suggest it, mainly because the dogs are left behind when their master and Greenwood’s scientist are injured and there are possibilities for the dogs to be in mortal danger and possibly die. Dog lovers are especially included in this list, because I, a true dog lover, found myself near tears. The choreography for the dogs is excellent, watching them becoming true characters commuting with one another and fighting off the conditions of the world around them, and relying on the balance of their team to shift and scavenge for food. My favorite dog had to be Maya.

The worst part of these sequences will be the plot twists that will leave you crying your eyes out as I was and there will surely be something here to inspire such an action, especially when the ace choreography is teamed with the incredible direction. “Eight Below” surely has a touch of “March of the Penguins” as the film chronicles the survival of the dogs in the arctic wilderness, and also explores the struggle of Walker’s Jerry to find the money to go back to the Arctic and find his dogs. Oddly enough you can sense the desperation behind Walker’s character to get back to them, and he conveys it well through silent anger and you root for him to find someone to help him as the dogs cling to life. “Eight Below” is exciting and entertaining and is a bulls eye for Walker.

I only wish the pointless Biggs wouldn’t have been included so prominently. I know that the producers felt in their single minded ways that Biggs had to be there to provide some comic relief to take off the pressure of the tale at hand, but I found Biggs to be an incredibly distracting character that never felt necessary. His forced comedic slack brings down what could have and should have been a sweet melodrama, and really ends up as a draw from the actual narrative.

It’s heartbreaking, it’s exciting, it’s engrossing, it’s a home run for Disney, and it’s finally a good performance for Paul Walker who gives one hell of a strong role as a man struggling to lay his fears to rest. Marshall’s direction increases what it already a wonderful piece of adventure.

 

 

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