Scientist Jerry Shepard (Paul Walker) mounts a daring rescue mission to save eight dog left in Antarctica in "Eight Below."

You think penguins have it bad? At least they"ve adjusted to survive in Antarctica. "Eight Below" speak the harrowing story of a dogsled team left chained exterior a study station as soon as the people pull the end in a hurry. The guide who used and loved them wants to go back to rescue them but is voted down: Winter has set in and all flights room canceled until spring. Will the dog survive? Or will certainly the film end in the spring, with the overview uttering a prayer over your eight dead bodies?

Remarkable, exactly how in a film whereby we know with an absolute certainty that all or most of the dogs must survive, "Eight Below" succeeds as an efficient story. It works by focusing on the dogs. To be sure, the guide Jerry (Paul Walker) never ever stops thinking about them, however there"s not lot he can do. He access time Dr. Davis McClaren (Bruce Greenwood), the scientist whose research financed the dogsled expedition, and also he hangs out at his mobile home on a scenic Oregon coast, and he pursues a reawakening love affair v Katie (Moon Bloodgood), the pilot that ferried them to and also from the station. To give him credit, he"s depressed, yes, really depressed, by the thought of those dogs chained up in the frigid night, yet what can he do? Meanwhile, the subtitles keep count of how long the dogs have been on their own: 50 work ... 133 days ... 155 days ...

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If over there is a slim logical trouble with your fight for survival, it"s the they have actually plenty of daylight to work-related with. Isn"t there practically eternal darkness throughout the Antarctic winter, just as there"s almost eternal daylight during the summer? I mean we need to accept the unlikely daylight since otherwise the most dramatic scenes would take place in darkness.

The dog order reminded me of Jack London"s dog novels, particularly White Fang and also The contact of the Wild. Carry out not make the mistake of reasoning London"s books are because that children. They can be check out by kids in great school, yes, yet they were created by one adult with major things to say about the nature that dogs and also the truth of arctic existence. There"s a reason they"re in the Library that America.

In "Eight Below," as in Jack London, the dogs space not turned into cute cartoon pets however are respected for their an easy animal natures. To be sure, the sled dogs here do part mighty advanced thinking, as once one dog appears to define a fairly complicated plan come the various other dogs through telepathy. I was also impressed by the selfless habits of the dogs together they lug birds to feed a member of the fill who has actually been crippled. I was under the impression that if a dog passed away in together circumstances, the others would certainly eat the to prevent starvation, but apparently no (you can"t i think the idea didn"t take place to candid Marshall, the director, because he do "Alive," the story the the Andes survivors).

Could the dog (six huskies and also two malamutes) really have survived unsheltered for 5 months, scavenging because that themselves through an Antarctic winter? I learn from variety that "Eight Below" is motivated by a Japanese film, itself based on real events, but in the 1958 "true story," 7 of nine dogs died. Still, the film doesn"t insurance claim to be a documentary, and the story, believable or not, is solid and involving. It"s the stuff about the humans that it s okay thin: The film lacks a human villain due to the fact that the decision not to return for the dog is wise and prudent, and also not made by a mean man who no dogs. You might think, however, that when Jerry appeals come Dr. McClaren, the scientist would certainly exert himself a little more to conserve the dogs, due to the fact that they saved his life. (How he gets right into trouble and also what the dogs execute to conserve him I will certainly leave for you come experience; it gives the film"s many compelling moments.)

Movies around animals constantly live v the temptation to offer the animals human characteristics. Lassie, for example, might do everything yet dial the telephone and also drive the car. The brilliance that "March the the Penguins" associated dropping a French soundtrack in i m sorry the penguins expressed us in voiceover dialogue and simply trusting in the fact of their situation. "Eight Below" is restrained, because that the most part, in just how it presents its dogs. Once there room closeups of a dog"s face, took in in thought, tension or yearning, us aren"t asked to believe anything us don"t currently believe around dogs: They do think, worry and also yearn, and they love, too. Or if castle don"t, i don"t desire to know about it.

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Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times native 1967 till his death in 2013. In 1975, he winner the Pulitzer prize for differentiated criticism.