Friday, August 8, 2014

Eight Below (2006) Review:

Almost everyone has a pet at some point in his or her life. Even an imaginary friend can be remotely close to that in some cases. They are animals that share a special connection with its owner. Something of which only the owner and pet could understand. Out of these various animals that constitute as pets, the most domesticated and common of all is the dog. Regularly labeled as "man's best friend", the dog continues to be the one of the few animals that can garner enough people to come out and see them in movies. Yes cats are also popular but besides Garfield (2004), who isn't even real, what other films have portrayed cats in a positive manner as of recent? Majority of the time, they are portrayed as antagonists.

The dog team!
There's also nothing better than pairing up a dog with almost any girl's dream guy and a guy’s right hand man, Paul Walker, who by this time was already well known thanks to The Fast and the Furious (2001) franchise. Here, Walker plays Jerry Shepard (huh, how appropriate) a field guide for a station in Antarctica. There he uses his trusty husky dogs to get around. On a normal day, Jerry is introduced to Dr. McClaren (Bruce Greenwood), a scientist hoping to find a special rock fragment that came from planet Mercury. On their travels they end up running into a snowstorm that drives them back to base. Dismally with no other choice when being evacuated, Jerry is told he has to leave his huskies behind. Once left alone, the dogs begin their journey of survival and Jerry begins his struggle to return to retrieve his pals.

The writing to this movie is astoundingly well rounded. I'm surprised that David DiGilio hasn't gotten much work after this. Supposedly he's penning the slow moving Tron: Legacy (2010) sequel but that's it. Each character has their moment of development when it comes to the fuzzy snow dogs. Supporting Jerry in his emotional troubles are Katie (Moon Bloodgood), who also has a closer attachment to Jerry than everyone else for apparent reasons. There's also Cooper played by Jason Biggs who keeps his humor light and comical since he's better known for being in the American Pie (1999) series. Dr. McClaren's development is the most satisfying though. Be that as it may, the dogs are the ones who earn big props for the things they do in this film.

In fact, along with the running time, viewers may learn some helpful safety tips if one were to be in such situations. I know I did. For one thing, they too get some development. At the beginning Jerry introduces the dog team to Dr. McClaren. From there, if one can remember  most of the names, the viewer will be able to see a number of the dogs grow in character. All the same, the performances behind these dogs are spot on. They reminisce that of the dog actors from The Thing (1982), very well trained. This particular credit belongs to Michael Alexander, an animal trainer who has worked in several other feature films involving animals. His ability to have these dogs act so believable and human like is mind-boggling. Imagine how many hours that took just to get one action performed correctly! Holy cow!

Let's find us some dogs....10-4
The cinematography is another breathtaking element to the film. Weather can be a problematic issue when it comes to making movies. How they filmed the Antarctic scenes is beyond comprehension. It must've been so cold, yet, Don Burgess was able to film large panning shots of the landscape. Snow dunes or frozen lakes, by golly was it magnificent. Burgess is also the guy who worked for Spider-Man (2002), Cast Away (2000) and Forrest Gump (1994). And then there’s Mark Isham's score to the film. Isham is mostly a composer who enjoys adding texture like sound mixes in his music. In spite of that, Isham actually provided a theme for the dogs and used soft piano chords to emote the proper feelings for the dogs. My only complaint was that theme isn't easy to recall. Surely this could not have been that hard to do. Other than that Isham still provided great music. If you enjoy a good adventure of survival, this is it.

Its music lacks a recognizable main theme but it still is powerfully effective along with its likable set of characters and emotional quest of endurance.

Points Earned --> 9:10

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