|EIGHT BELOW (director: Frank Marshall; screenwriter: Dave Digilio; cinematographer: Don Burgess; editor: Christopher Rouse; music: Mark Isham; cast: Paul Walker (Jerry Shepard), Jason Biggs (Charlie Cooper), Bruce Greenwood (Dr. Davis McClaren), Moon Bloodgood (Katie), Wendy Crewson (Eve McClaren), Null Panou (Howard), August Schellenberg (Mindo), Gerald Plunkett (Dr. Harrison); Runtime: 120; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: David Hoberman/Patrick Crowley; Buena Vista Pictures; 2006)|
family friendly dog adventure film, with great
wintry location shots, an emotionally pleasing
feel-good story and a one-note but warm star
performance by Paul Walker."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Inspired by a true story that took place in 1957, with an endearing screenplay by Dave Digilio. Frank Marshall ("Congo"/"Arachnophobia") helms this pleasing but bland Disney Channel produced dog lover survival adventure story, whose main faults are that it drags at times when not focused on the huskies, there are too many banal contrived subplots and when we see how the dogs survive on their own the rescue in the final act by their dedicated handler lacks tension. It's a loose remake of the 1985 Japanese film Nankyoku Monogari.
It centers around, in the summer of 1993, a team of U.S. research scientists living in a base camp in Antarctica. During the last days of summer the ambitious UCLA geologist Dr. Davis McClaren (Bruce Greenwood) suddenly arrives and goes on an urgent mission to recover meteor fragments, possibly from Mercury, for valuable research on outer space. The expedition guide Jerry Shepard (Paul Walker) is ordered by his boss to take him to the remote Mt. Melbourne, which is only reachable by sled. As soon as they arrive, Jerry receives word from the base camp to return immediately due to a severe storm. Davis pleads for more time and gets till noon. On the way back Davis slips on the ledge of a crevice and falls into the freezing thin ice, breaking his leg. He's rescued by the dogs getting him a rope and pulling him to safety. When they arrive safely at base camp, everyone at the base is rescued by a military sea plane except the eight dogs--due to lack of space. They are left behind for another trip, but because the storm arrives there are no planes to rescue them. The dogs are left on their own for 152 days, as there are no flights during the winter. Somehow the resourceful dogs survive, as the guilt-ridden Jerry returns for them next summer with the team's free spirit cartographer Cooper (Jason Biggs) and Jerry's on and off ex-girlfriend, the bush pilot Katie (Moon Bloodgood), after he has a tough time raising the funds back home for the rescue and feeling devastated about the dogs.
It's a family friendly dog adventure film, with great wintry location shots, an emotionally pleasing feel-good story and a one-note but warm star performance by Paul Walker.
REVIEWED ON 6/21/2017 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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