Eight Below - * * *
Viewed on the big screen - 2/28/06
Eight below is a great family movie, with a few frightening moments. It's about a musher (Paul Walker) who ferries scientists around Antarctica with his team of sled dogs. If you've seen the movie trailer, then you know they eventually have to leave the dogs and fly back to their main base. And then, with the storm of the century bearing down on them, and the Antarctic winter just around the corner, they're forced to leave the dogs.
This is where the real story starts. I have to say, watching these dogs try to survive was like a great National Geographic or Animal Planet documentary. For days after seeing the movie, I kept thinking about these dogs and their will to survive. It's rare I think of animal actors this way. Kudos to their trainers.
The musher, separated from his dogs and now living in Oregon, feels so much guilt about leaving the dogs that he must find a way to return and see what happened to them. Walker, while seeming like a member of the Rob Lowe gene pool, made me believe in his loss. But I have to wonder what the whole thing would have been like with Vin Diesel playing it as a comedy? We'll never know.
Because the movie takes place in a frozen environment, it feels a little like March of the Penguins. Interestingly, it also used some of the same elements as Alive, the story was about the people who survived in the Andes mountains for months by resorting to cannibalism. It even used Alive's use of subtitles where they would flash the date and then how many days the dogs had been alone. I realized, while writing this review, that Frank Marshall, the director of Eight Below, also directed Alive. This type of story is obviously important to him.
If you watch with children, just remember there are a few moments of peril and a really scary leopard seal.