Eight Below

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Rating: PG

Starring:
Paul Walker as Jerry Shepherd
Bruce Greenwood as Dr. Davis McLaren
Jason Biggs as Cooper
Moon Bloodgood as Katie

Special Features:
Deleted Scenes with Audio Commentary By Director

“Running with the Dogs: The Making of Eight Below”

Director, Actors, and Director of Photography Audio Commentary

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.40:1)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Languages: French, Spanish
Picture: Running Time: 120 Minutes

Synopsis:
The following is from the DVD cover:

“Walt Disney Pictures presents Eight Below, the thrilling tale of incredible friendship between eight amazing sled dogs and their guide Jerry (Paul Walker). Stranded in Antarctica during the most unforgiving winter on the planet, Jerry’s beloved sled dogs must learn to survive together until Jerry — who will stop at nothing — rescues them. Driven by unwavering bonds of friendship, enormous belief in one another, and tremendous courage, Jerry and the dogs make an incredible journey to reunite in this triumphant and inspiring action-adventure the whole family will treasure.”

Eight Below is rated PG for some peril and brief mild language.

Mini-Review:
Upon first glance, Eight Below looks like “Snow Dogs 2″. After all, it’s a Disney film, it features more sled dogs, and there is some clowning around in the film by the humans. But in reality Eight Below is, at its heart, a serious wilderness drama. It is based on a true story, some of the dogs die, and the humans go through some life or death drama. You could arguably say this film isn’t appropriate for a lot of kids. But it is pretty entertaining and you find yourself pulled into the drama surrounding the survival of the dogs.

Eight Below has a lot of strong points. The cinematography is beautiful and Canada and Greenland double well for Antarctica. The dogs are also quite entertaining and their harrowing tale makes a great drama. Most of the humans deliver fine performances too, including Paul Walker, Bruce Greenwood, and Moon Bloodgood. However, the movie does have some low points, too. Jason Biggs is incredibly annoying in every single scene he’s in. The movie also tends to anthropomorphize the dogs a little too much. As they defer leadership to one another, the movie bends over backwards to make them seem human. Eight Below is also about a half hour too long. With a two hour running time, kids get a bit antsy and adults already know how the movie is going to end early on. It’s kind of hard to sit through sometimes.

Who should check out Eight Below? Anybody that likes animal movies or survival films. Fans of Paul Walker should also be pleased with his performance. Despite this film having a PG rating and the Disney stamp on it, I wouldn’t recommend it to kids under 7. It’s a bit intense at times and there is a little language you probably wouldn’t want them repeating.

There’s a decent selection of bonus features on this DVD, but I was disappointed that there was nothing describing the “true story” that this movie was based on. There’s almost nothing here that separates fact from fiction and the whole “true story” bit is completely glossed over. What you will find is a lot of info on how they made the film, and it is interesting. There’s your standard “making of” feature where they describe how they got Canada to double for Antarctica, how they trained the dogs, and how they got them to perform. This was quite interesting. The two commentaries delve into this a bit more. Then there are a few deleted scenes with commentaries. As long as the movie is, I was surprised there were any deleted scenes. I was more surprised to find out that they filled in gaps I noticed in the narrative. One scene shows Bruce Greenwood describing more about the meteor he was looking for and why it was worth risking his life for. Another scene shows why the guys ran from the sauna to the snow in the opening scene. There are a few more scenes, with commentary, too.

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