Eight Below

by Alan Rapp on February 17, 2006

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Eight Below
  • IMDb: link

Eight Below movie reviewThe film starts off with a notice that the story is inspired by real events.  Usually such a notice means we’re going to see something that someone’s friend of a friend heard about that happened and then is given the Hollywood treatment to make it even less believable.  Although there is some of that present the makers of the film tried to limit it and stay true to the story, and the end result is surprisingly good.

Gerry (Paul Walker) is a guide at a remote Antarctic research base who works by taking people out on with his sled dogs on various scientific explorations.  Gerry treats the dogs more like family than pets and his love for them is unwavering.  At the end of the season a scientist (Bruce Greenwood) arrives to look for a meteorite and despite Gerry’s strong concerns and objections he takes him out (cue suspenseful music here).

Of course something goes wrong and the two are hit by a massive storm and barely make it back to the base.  They are flown out for immediate medical attention by Gerry’s ex-girlfriend (Moon Bloodgood) who promises Gerry she will return for the dogs but is unable to do so because of the weather.  Winter has arrived early and no teams are able to get back to the base until spring and so Gerry and his friends are forced to travel back home to the US.

From this point the movie is split into two separate stories the first is Gerry’s attempts to fund an expedition back and the second is a look at the dogs alone in Antarctica.  The second is by far the better story and I think the film would be improved shortening the human story to a bare minimum.

I don’t know much about what’s involved in getting dogs to act like humans on film but director Frank Marshall gets the job done.  The dogs survive in the wild for months and the filmmakers had to come up with ideas on how this was accomplished (since no one was actually there to see it when it actually happened).  What we get is suspenseful and well executed if at times a tad too sentimental and staged.

This is a good film for the whole family although there is some violence done to the dogs in the wild that might be troubling for younger children.  The cinematography is amazing as it captures the beauty of the arctic.  The human actors are fine, Greenwood and Jason Biggs as the comedy sidekick come off best, but the dogs are the real stars of the film and do an astounding job.

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