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Overall Rating

Awesome: 13.33%
Worth A Look: 28.33%
Just Average45%
Pretty Crappy: 13.33%
Sucks: 0%

7 reviews, 18 user ratings

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Eight Below
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by Peter Sobczynski

"See Paul Walker get outacted by a bunch of dogs."
3 stars

No doubt chafing over the fact that others revived the basic conceit of their old “True-Life Adventures” nature films and made zillions with last year’s “March of the Penguins,” Disney tries to revive the formula for themselves with “Eight Below” with mixed results. When the animals are on the screen, you can’t take your eyes off the screen but when the human stars take over, you’ll find it equally difficult to keep your eyes open.

“Inspired by a true story” (in other words, it is pretty much made up) and set in the frozen Antarctic, Paul Walker (no doubt paying the karmic price for cavorting in the surf with Jessica Alba in “Into the Blue”) stars as Antarctic tracker Gerry Shepard, a man whose entire life seems to be dedicated to his eight beloved sled dogs. As the film opens, a glory-seeking scientist (Bruce Greenwood) arrives on a search for a rare meteorite that is supposed to have landed in the region. Despite warning of the dangers–it is getting too late in the season for such expeditions and he hasn’t been able to scout out the area–Gerry agrees to take him along and while they find the rock, disaster soon strikes in the twin forms of an accident and a freak storm. Nevertheless, the dogs save the day and get Gerry and the doctor back to the base in time. However, the entire base is forced to evacuate and Gerry is heartbroken when he is forced to tie the dogs up and leave them behind temporarily. Unfortunately, “temporarily” soon changes to “permanently” and Gerry is unable to return and the dogs are doomed to die either of exposure or hunger.

Happily, most of the dogs are able to break free from their chains and are able to forage for food and shelter. They catch the occasional bird and stumble upon the beached corpse of a killer whale. There are constant dangers as well–both in the form of the frigid weather and the occasional predator, including a vicious leopard seal (who makes a surprise appearance that should have the same effect on kids as Alan Arkin did jumping out at Audrey Hepburn in “Wait Until Dark”)–and it soon becomes evident that they can only hold out for so long. Meanwhile, in what could be called the human subplot, Gerry bounces around from city to city in a desperate attempt to raise funds to mount what looks to everyone to be a hopeless rescue mission.

When “Eight Below” simply concentrates on the animals, it is actually pretty impressive at times–even though I am not quite a dog person, the canine performers are handsome to look at and they go through their paces as well as anyone could hope from quadrupeds. More importantly, the film doesn’t candy-coat their struggle; we are always made aware of the danger they are in and parents of more sensitive kids should probably know that not all of them make it to the end credits. It is when the two-legged actors take center stage that the movie (which pushes two hours) drags considerably–so much time is devoted to Walker’s attempts to convince people to give him money and his tentative romance with a comely pilot (played by the wonderfully named Moon Bloodgood) that even the most dog-obsessed members of the audience will find themselves growing restless.

Despite some beautiful photography and impressive performances from the canine cast, the human section of “Eight Below” drags down the proceedings to such a degree that I can’t quite recommend it to paying audiences–certainly not in the same way that I could recommend a film like “The Black Stallion” or “Never Cry Wolf” or “Duma.” Frankly, this is the kind of film that is more suitable for DVD viewing where the fast-forward button can be easily (and frequently) deployed.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=14012&reviewer=389
originally posted: 02/16/06 23:58:21
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User Comments

4/03/11 Florian Herbst Lousy movie, the worst is the "pilot"-girl Moon Goodblood (haven't seen lousier actress) 2 stars
3/24/08 R.W. Welch The dogs were great; the movie okay. 3 stars
12/14/07 Nan The rock in the snow was almost a joke, but we enjoyed the movie.. 4 stars
12/09/06 TJ DISNEY did it again. The best tear jerker/feel good story of the century. (So far.) 5 stars
8/05/06 Chris Wilbik Good movie! Bought it to see again 5 stars
7/05/06 GK A "family" story. 4 stars
6/07/06 Peggy Doty WORTH A LOOK 4 stars
5/22/06 Gideon Touching story 5 stars
4/29/06 Sylvia Isaac My husband and I both thought it was great. Really tugged at our hearts. 5 stars
4/25/06 Agent Sands The human characters are all bullshit. The dogs are the best actors in the movie. 3 stars
4/23/06 alien assassin Above average dog movie...certainly better than "Snow Dogs" 5 stars
4/01/06 Anna Fox Great movie--want more like it 5 stars
3/30/06 shayla this was the best movie ive ever seen 5 stars
3/02/06 Kankasaur Great analogy by OZ; Paul Walker IS the boy from "Puppy Lost His Way"! 3 stars
2/25/06 Quigley the dogs really steal the show. though walker still knows squat about acting, it's good 4 stars
2/24/06 bobbi worth seeing for the animals; however nonanimal plots are cliche ridden 4 stars
2/18/06 Chip movie was just a great touching flim 5 stars
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  17-Feb-2006 (PG)
  DVD: 20-Jun-2006



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