The Call of the Wild Movie Review

Adapted from the novel by Jack London, The Call of the Wild tells the story of Buck, a big-hearted dog whose blissful domestic life is turned upside down when he is suddenly uprooted from his California home and transplanted to the exotic wilds of the Canadian Yukon. Blu-ray reviewer Ralph Potts had to opportunity to check out the Digital release and offers his thoughts on the film.

My Thoughts:

Adapted from the novel by Jack London, it vividly brings to the screen the story of Buck, a big-hearted dog whose blissful domestic life is turned upside down when he is suddenly uprooted from his California home and transplanted to the exotic wilds of the Canadian Yukon during the Gold Rush of the 1890s. As the newest rookie on a mail delivery dog sled team — and later its leader — Buck experiences the adventure of a lifetime, ultimately finding his true place in the world and becoming his own master.

If I am being honest, the trailer for The Call of the Wild didn’t leave me hankering to see it. After hearing positive feedback from some that had seen it, my interest level went up and, I am glad it did. This is a fun adventure story that revolves around Buck’s journey of self-discovery as his various encounters lead him to find the place where he was destined to be. I haven’t read Jack London’s novel but, that didn’t prevent me from connecting to the story and enjoying its whimsical and heartwarming tale that is ultimately about two old souls seeking answers.

The Call of the Wild isn’t a perfect film, narratively speaking but, it takes aim at its subject matter and more often than not hits the target. I recall being put off by the obvious use of CGI in the trailer but, after seeing the film, felt that it worked quite well given the nature of the telling. I found the approach to its execution, in Buck’s case, was very interesting (you’ll have to check out the bonus features to see what I mean).

Harrison Ford didn’t have as big a part as I thought but, made the most of it when his character entered the story. I really like Omar Sy and enjoyed his performance, along with Cara Gee’s. The small supporting characters played by Bradley Whitford, Jean Louisa Kelly and Karen Gillan weren’t a factor. Dan Stevens as the heavy/villain during the final act didn’t work at all but, it wasn’t substantial enough to detract that much.

When the credits rolled my wife and I looked at each other said the same thing, “that was better than expected”. The Call of the Wild is solid family entertainment that has a little something for kids and their parents. Easily worth the price of admission.

In light of the fact that this digital version included a Dolby Atmos soundtrack I wanted to offer my thoughts on the sound:

Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the active variety that made steady use of the platform. Its use of audio objects is a mix atmospherics, discrete effects and music. This is done to very good effect and creates a tangible level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events nicely. During the first act, there are several instances where the mix generates a noticeable improvement in dimension and depth of field.

Beginning with the scene aboard the ship, there are a host of sounds that utilize the overhead channels, creating an involving listening experience. This continues with the film’s action-based sequences, most notably during the avalanche, which conveys the breadth/expanse of the soundstage as the track bristles with enveloping ambience and discretely placed effects. I also found that this applied to mood setting scenes such as the one at night where Buck and John travel down the calm river.

Overall, I would say that viewing The Call of the Wild via the Dolby Atmos mix definitely heightened the experience of watching the film.

Dolby Atmos Rating: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
  • Audio object placement: 
  • Effectiveness of Atmos platform: 
  • Entertainment factor: 

The Digital Code I received for The Call of the Wild wasn’t for Ultra HD. I redeemed it on Movies Everywhere/iTunes which was the 1080p version with Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound. In addition to its engaging sound, I found the quality of the streaming video to be excellent. I am uncertain whether or not the Ultra HD/Blu-ray version will be forthcoming given the current circumstances but, I hope to receive a copy.

The Digital version also included the bonus features which is welcomed. My rating for the film, and bonus content is below.

Film:

Bonus Features:

Blu-ray/DVD Release Date: May 12, 2020

Bonus Features:

  • • A Man and His Dog (Digital Exclusive)
    • Origins
    • The On-Set Experience
    • State of the Art
    • The World of the Wild

 

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman color calibration software and Portrait Displays C6 HDR2000 colorimeter from Portrait.com)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Oppo BDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/Roomie Remote V6 Universal Remote Control
SVS Ultra Tower Speakers (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Center Channel (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Niles Audio In-Ceiling/In-Wall Series Speakers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems