The 2020 adaptation of the 1903 best seller by Jack London awes with riveting scenic imagery over the Yukon and Canadian landscapes and provides a charming story about a dog’s journey from easy family living in California to embracing his call of the wild.

“The Call of the Wild”, released Fri. Feb. 21, 2020, succeeds the last film adaption in 1997.

The most recent adaptation incorporates a lighter, sweeter, ‘dog-meets-boy’ and Disneyesque feeling (though produced by Fox) than its predecessor.

The film is Director Chris Sanders’ debut live-action film. Sanders is known for his work as a writer for Disney’s “Lilo & Stitch” and “Mulan”. Sanders also worked on DreamWorks’ “The Croods” and “How to Train Your Dragon”.

Attributing to the film’s lighter touch is the fully CGI produced main character, Buck, the dog. All other dogs and wolves are also CGI manifestations. Though extraordinarily well designed and rendered there’s never a point when watching the film that you don’t realize you’re not looking at a real dog; the affect gives the film some cartoonish qualities.

Following the traditional story, Buck begins life in California at a pleasant home. One night Buck is kidnapped and transported all the way to Canada where he begins to understand the unpleasantries of some human beings. He learns to fear the club and the whip quickly.

Buck luckily escapes and is found by a French-Canadian mail carrier, Perrault (Omar Sy). Under Perrault, Buck learns about wilderness living. Buck learns sledding, sleeping outdoors and eventually how to lead when an altercation occurs between him and the lead dog; Buck comically assumes leadership and does well.

When Perrault learns that telegram technology is soon coming and is reassigned by the Canadian Government, he sells his team of dogs.

Buck is bought by cruel owner, Hal (Dan Stevens), whom has plans for Buck’s team to help him find gold. Ignoring warnings by John Thornton (Harrison Ford), an experienced outdoorsman, about the Spring thaw, Hal proceeds into the wilderness with little experience of his own anyway.

Buck’s team has been beaten, unfed and overworked when Thornton catches up to them. Thornton releases Buck, but is threatened by gunpoint and leaves the other dogs. Another drastic change for Buck - he’s now with a kind master in a home once more.

Ford’s character speaks with Buck as if though a human companion. Through masterful CGI work Buck acknowledges, nods and responds intelligently to almost everything Thornton says.

The interactions between Thornton and Buck are comical, heartfelt and inspiring. Their interaction makes-the-movie at one point. Ford’s charm and fantastic acting helps sell the appeal of the man-and-dog relationship.

Deviating from the original works, Thornton travels northwest into uncharted territory in pursuit of adventure in his dead son’s memory, not gold lust. Buck travels with him through rapid waters, rocky terrain and snowy climate feeding Buck’s call into the wild.

Masterful cinematography captures viewers throughout. From snowy terrain and an avalanche during Buck’s mail delivery days to his adventures with Thornton, the views are mesmerizing of rivers, fields, wild flowers and horizons. Even early on the film captures the California countryside beautifully.

To the production team’s credit too, the film was shot in all the areas the original story takes place – California and Canada, even the Yukon province was visited.

The film’s plot is simplistic, but because it never takes itself too seriously, it works. Harrison Ford narrates throughout the film coalescing the story of a sad old-man and a dog each finding their own way in the end and helping each other do so. You’ll get ‘the feels’ watching their relationship blossom and Thornton make closure in the end.

Giving the vibe of a mid-budget film, “The Call of the Wild” clocked in at a high $130 million budget. Unfortunately, the film has only made $24 million opening weekend in the United States and $40 million worldwide. The high price is contributed to the high-end CGI animals and effects used in the film.

The PG rating for the film is fitting. No foul or dirty language occurs but gun and animal violence is present.

“The Call of the Wild” is well deserving of a place in the hearts of families. Though clearly marketed toward children the film has enough substance to make it a great family endeavor for everyone to enjoy. It’s highly recommended for the big screen because of the beautiful scenery and enjoy its call to the wild.