Friday, May 15, 2009

"Eight Below" (2006) - Movie Review

“Eight Below” is a good story about bravery, persistence and the love for dogs but skids whenever it begins to take off. As the known account of what is going to happen begins in the cold south most part of the planet. The dogs, eight of them is owned near and dear by the expedition guide Jerry (Paul Walker). When the scientist Dr. McClaren (Bruce Greenwood) arrives without notice and demands a trek to the worst part of the vicinity, danger is imminent and the bravery of dogs goes without saying. That drill catches our attention and while I was thinking that the whole part of that expedition is going to be the film, the movie spins a surprise. As the two survives and endures the deadly travel by the dogs digging forward with their infinite energy, a hard weather leaves the expedition team to abandon those. Jerry badly hurt wakes up to find that there is no going back to the field base in Antarctica with the winter hitting the worst in twenty five years. Thus becomes “Eight Below” in the barren and deadly icy cold weather of Antarctica, not for Jerry but for the canines.

Jerry becomes dejected and is consumed by guilt and helplessness as he ventures from DC to his home base Astoria, Portland to find some one to take him back. When this is happening the film shifts to the dogs who now have broken down the tightened collars except an aging dog Old Jack and begins to start the survival instinct where food does not exist in the never ending white sheets of ice. This is where the film begins to lose its connection with its audience. While the film is intended for the kids, the cheesiness of making the dogs react becomes too much. The dogs cleverly hunt the birds and also accumulates to its leader to distribute. Then there is the problem of young Max to be accepted in their clan of seasoned players. All these while sounds cute and cuddly does not translate the right emotions.

When we meet Jerry introducing the eight lovely rugged pets of his, the idea is to make us fall in love with those creatures. Their appearance and shrewdness is enough to do that but to sustain it, there needs more work in further scenes to ensure and that does not gets materialized as director Frank Marshall would have liked. The other reason becomes actor Paul Walker as he seem to not lose the character of “Fast and Furious”. Well for that, he never changes himself to the character he is playing. But more so it is the similar young tough emotionally tightened fellow roles is what he gets and accepts I believe.

Jerry has an on and off thing going on with his crew member, a pilot Katie (Moon Bloodgood). Their romance is one such which changes climates as the screenplay likes to and comes together when the crisis ends. The same goes for the funny guy stereotype for another crew buddy Cooper (Jason Biggs). He is the guy getting picked on constantly by Jerry and licked all over the face by Buck, the dog. That routine which begins in the film, as the romance should end the note. The fear of flying and his technical expertise of cartography coming to help the script fold fast becomes too much of a haphazard approach towards the story.

“Eight Below” as said earlier has a very good story. While the survival of the dogs are crucial to the film, the unwanted emotional overcoating shines annoyingly the brand name of “Disney”. Thus it suddenly plummets into the territory of a film which takes the tag of “for kids” for granted. I am sure the kids will have a great time seeing the dogs fight its way through and of course the film clown Cooper (but I was little taken back when the fight with leopard seal over the carcass of a whale comes through which is completely not suitable for young kids). It seems to be a cop out from seriously taking a mature path out of this.

The funny thing about the film is that I was desperately trying to like the movie and especially Jerry’s love for his dogs. While I loved the effort of showing the dogs guarding their kind from weather and natural killers, the emotions should have been avoided. For whatever it is, while I would not debate on the ability of an animal emoting human feelings, it does not get translated well over the screen. But I should not generalize. “Eight Below” does not give out and does not get the right part of the act from these otherwise energetic and astute dogs.

No comments: