‘The Call of the Wild’ movie review

Note: This is a spoiler-free The Call of the Wild movie review

It’s never easy to bring a beloved novel to the big screen. How many times have you heard someone say, “The book is better.” If your answer is anything less than 358 times, you’re lying. 

Make that 359. Probably.

The Call of the Wild is a genuine achievement in bringing CGI to life and making dog lovers clamour for their own canine. It lacks in story and truly connecting to a target audience.

Get Ready To Want A Dog

The Call of the Wild will draw audiences because of the CGI masterpiece that it is. Buck is our main character and hero, and he resonates with multiple audiences. He’s a dog, by the way.

Dog lovers will wish they are his. Kids will wish they are playing with him instead of watching him on the screen. Everyone else will understand why people love dogs so much if nothing else.

The movie requires multiple animated dogs, simply because of the subject matter and the action scenes required to bring the novel to life. That said, 3 Arts Entertainment and Twentieth Century did everything they could to make those pooches feel as real as possible. The result is a movie that creates a real human connection with the audience.

The best part of Call of the Wild is the way the movie nails dog mannerisms and reactions. Buck and company act the same way the dog in your own home does. You feel something for animated dogs. It’s a legitimate accomplishment, even in a technology-driven 2020. Few movies have been able to replicate the look and feel of this movie.

As you follow Buck’s adventures in The Call of the Wild it simply makes you want to cuddle up with your own pup by the end. That or get your own dog to adventure around Alaska.

A Story That Finishes Short Of The Special Effects

If you’re a dog lover and you want to just see a bunch of dogs being heroes for 100 minutes, that’s a great reason to see The Call of the Wild. Unfortunately, the story outside of the CGI excellence leaves something to be desired.

The Call of the Wild exists in a bit of an odd PG-rated limbo. It is certainly a movie for kids in that it’s an adventure story centering around a dog, and never gets TOO serious at any point. The movie simultaneously can get dark and there are more than a few more sinister moments and characters, including Buck himself at times.

There are also multiple instances where characters, dog and human alike, just disappear in the story without any real closure. Thinking critically about the movie, this is frustrating. Thinking about it as a PG movie, it’s not that big of a deal.

Essentially the movie is part for kids and part for adults, but not completely fulfilling for either.

All this is said by someone who admittedly has not read the novel. Logically speaking The Call of the Wild has something extra to offer for the book fans, which is hopefully the case story-wise. Still, with how beloved the book is there’s no way this big-screen adaptation measures up.

Should I See The Call of the Wild?

Despite not really fitting for kids or adults, this is an easy Saturday afternoon family movie. The PG rating is appropriate, it’s only 100 minutes, and the CGI dogs are magnificent. All those things make it enjoyable for a parent and kids to enjoy for an afternoon and not think about it much after.

No kids? If you’re a dog lover you’ll make a connection with Buck and if you love the book you’ll probably be seeing the movie anyway to compare the two.

Outside of that, the movie leaves something to be desired and can be skipped in the theater. 

For more, check out our Movies section!

(Featured Image courtesy of EPK)


Steve Richards

Steve is happy to talk about anything pop culture; movies, TV, music, etc. Comic book movies are a specialty, but critically acclaimed movies and TV shows are also a sweet spot. He’s a co-host of the Prime Time Fantasy Football and Showcast podcasts on Next Level Radio. The second is a pop culture podcast focused heavily on movies and geeking out! As a writer, Steve is a freelance reporter for a local newspaper,, and of course Pure Fandom! He covers a variety of high school sports on the first two platforms.

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