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Overall Rating

Awesome: 13.33%
Worth A Look: 28.33%
Pretty Bad: 13.33%
Total Crap: 0%

7 reviews, 18 user ratings

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Eight Below
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by William Goss

"That Same Old Doggy Style"
2 stars

Despite what Disney’s marketing department might lead you to believe, 'Eight Below' is not the long-awaited sequel to 'The Thing.' However, it is a pretty pedestrian tale of "survival, friendship, and adventure" (according to the tagline) that seldom fails to pander to the lowest common denominator in its every aspect. I will give it one thing: it does benefit from a severe lack of Cuba Gooding Jr.

Based on a 1983 Japanese film, itself inspired by true events, the story follows the titular mutts abandoned in Antarctica, courtesy of the biggest storm in 25 years (and what other kind is there?), and the efforts of intrepid explorer Gerry Shepherd (Paul Walker) to return and save them. The canines fend for themselves as best they can in the harsh environment, while Shepherd looks for someone, anyone, to take him down south and help save the dogs.

Director Frank Marshall (Alive) knows just which buttons to push, establishing that the dogs are, in fact, too cute to die, and then placing them in peril, complete with bombastic score. He even arms them with a “days on their own”-o-meter for maximum pity potential. To his credit, he does sacrifice some canines, curbing some of the inevitable finale’s saccharine tendencies whilst giving the old heartstrings a tug or three. With the exception of a single solid seal scare, everything about the story feels calculated. Then again, the director wisely avoids a forced romantic subplot, and matters could very well have been even more manipulative. What works is not so much about what Marshall does right, but about what he opts to exclude entirely.

Bruce Greenwood, whose character Shepherd saved makes a convenient contribution towards his mission, does his best with a relatively flat role, and the same goes for Walker. Jason Biggs does occasionally shine as the obligatory comic sidekick, but it almost would had been better not to know that there was potential for something above average when every other facet is dead-set on being typical. As expected, the canine characters end up outshining the cast, but it seems impossible to NOT anthropomorphize animals in any film nowadays. Of course, they’re adorable and courageous and enduring and endearing. They have no say in the matter. There isn’t an angle from which the dogs don’t appear to be clever and valiant, and the film never asks for anything less.

As the end credits began to roll, the gray-haired vixen to my left inquired as to what I had thought of the film, and before I could respond, she placed her hand upon my shoulder and told me how beautifully shot it was and how it had great values about loyalty and devotion, which are in short supply today. Between the behavior of her geriatric posse and the several toddlers in the audience, I’ve come to conclude that 'Eight Below' has greatest appeal to those whose diets consist of either Centrum or Cheerios. Considering how generic the entire affair is, it would appear that the filmmakers had the most basic of criteria for their audience: must love dogs.

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originally posted: 02/17/06 17:46:08
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User Comments

4/04/11 Florian Herbst Lousy movie, the worst is the "pilot"-girl Moon Goodblood (haven't seen lousier actress) 2 stars
3/25/08 R.W. Welch The dogs were great; the movie okay. 3 stars
12/15/07 Nan The rock in the snow was almost a joke, but we enjoyed the movie.. 4 stars
12/10/06 TJ DISNEY did it again. The best tear jerker/feel good story of the century. (So far.) 5 stars
8/06/06 Chris Wilbik Good movie! Bought it to see again 5 stars
7/06/06 GK A "family" story. 4 stars
6/08/06 Peggy Doty WORTH A LOOK 4 stars
5/23/06 Gideon Touching story 5 stars
4/30/06 Sylvia Isaac My husband and I both thought it was great. Really tugged at our hearts. 5 stars
4/26/06 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
4/02/06 Anna Fox Great movie--want more like it 5 stars
3/31/06 shayla this was the best movie ive ever seen 5 stars
3/03/06 Kankasaur Great analogy by OZ; Paul Walker IS the boy from "Puppy Lost His Way"! 3 stars
2/26/06 Quigley the dogs really steal the show. though walker still knows squat about acting, it's good 4 stars
2/25/06 bobbi worth seeing for the animals; however nonanimal plots are cliche ridden 4 stars
2/19/06 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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