PG for some peril and brief mild language.
Feb. 17, 2006
Action, Adventure, Drama
Paul Walker, Jason Biggs, Bruce Greenwood, Moon Bloodgood
Walt Disney Pictures
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By Ted Baehr
Publisher, Movieguide Magazine
- Eight Below is loosely based on a true story about a Japanese Antarctica expedition that went back to save their dogs. This production follows the arc of the original story but turns it into an American movie. It is interesting that the Japanese producers of the original Japanese movie are still involved.
On an American scientific base in Antarctica, survival guide Jerry Shepard is told to take a geologist named Davis, who is an Antartic greenhorn, up to an out of the way mountain to look for a meteorite that may be from the planet Mercury. Jerry protests that the ice is thin this time of year, and the weather is treacherous, but he is ordered to go anyway. Because the ice is thin, he cannot take snow cats or snowmobiles, but must rely on his beloved dog team.
Sure enough on the way to the mountain, the dogsled falls into a crevasse but Jerry rescues Davis. Davis is still intent on finding his meteorite and ignores the difficulty of the journey. Eventually, he locates his meteorite but falls off a cliff and through the ice. Davis is saved by one of the dogs, who courageously crawls across the ice but Davis has broken his leg. Jerry braves frostbite to get Davis back in the midst of a driving storm, the worst storm of the century.
The plane takes off with the human inhabitants of the research facility, leaving the dogs behind, much to Jerry's chagrin. The dogs have been chained to a very tight tether. Jerry was told in the delirium of his frostbite that the female pilot Katie would go back for the dogs the next day, but the weather keeps anyone from going back.
Back in the states, Jerry almost runs out of options trying to get someone interested in rescuing the dogs. Meanwhile, the dogs break free and perform some incredible feats to survive. They take care of their wounded. They trick the predatory leopard seal, they sacrifice themselves for the other dogs, and they exhibit more virtues than many of the human beings of Hollywood movies. When the most heroic characters in Hollywood movies are dogs and penguins, it presents an interesting insight into our contemporary society.
Families will fall in love with Eight Below. The camerawork is extraordinary. Paul Walker does a wonderful job as survival guide Jerry, but Bruce Greenwood steals the movie as the scientist who's completely self-absorbed, then realizes he has to change. The storyline is thrilling and action packed, but also very subtle. This is also some of the best dialogue in recent movies. And, of course, the acting of the dogs is incredible. Months of training paid off in an extraordinary display of character by the dogs.
Director/producer Frank Marshall has done some memorable movies (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Seabiscuit, Alive, Empire of the Sun, Back to the Future, Arachnophobia), and this is one of his best. If you want a movie that will teach your children wonderful virtues, that will give you a new vista on life, and that will keep you on the edge of your seat, Eight Below is the movie for you.
It should be noted that the movie doesn't contain any overt environmentalist or evolutionary elements, though it doesn't have any religious elements either. It does contain many moral virtues and people trying to act morally.
Eight Below exceeds all expectations. It is an extremely entertaining adventure story. Disney hits a home run with Eight Below.
Address Comments To:
Robert Iger, CEO
Buena Vista Distribution Co.
(Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures)
Dick Cook, Chairman
The Walt Disney Company
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521
Phone: (818) 560-1000
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NOTE from Dr. Ted Baehr, publisher of Movieguide Magazine. For more information from a Christian perspective, order the latest Movieguide Magazine by calling 1-800-899-6684(MOVI) or visit our website at www.movieguide.org. Movieguide is dedicated to redeeming the values of Hollywood by informing parents about today's movies and entertainment and by showing media executives and artists that family-friendly and even Christian-friendly movies do best at the box office year in and year out. Movieguide now offers an online subscription to its magazine version, at www.movieguide.org. The magazine, which comes out 25 times a year, contains many informative articles and reviews that help parents train their children to be media-wise consumers.
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