Eight Below is the heartwarming tale of Buck, Dewey, Max, Maya, Old Jack, Shadow, Shorty and Truman, all of whom are sled dogs for a scientific research station. If you thought I wasn’t listing all of them pups in this review you are flat out crazy. I never miss the chance to up the marketing game of “chicken”. Eight dogs, eight stories of enormous complexity, an opus to the craft of filmmaking. Um, no, really I believe Disney would have you think this the “greatest adventure story ever told” but I’d say it’s not even the greatest adventure story told this month. That honor must go to The Pink Panther. We salute your glory Panther, reign long and supreme.
Now, on the other hand, is this a good flick for an eight-year-old? Yes! In fact I’d have switched the title to Eight Below for Eight-Year-Olds and reran the tagline as “The greatest adventure story ever told that has dogs and the guy from the Fast and the Furious in it.” At least then you’d have some form of truth on your side (and I’ve been told the truth will set you free).
Eight Below is allegedly based on a true story of a pack of eight sled dogs that were left to fend for themselves in the Antarctic wild over the course of many months. Due to a real bad storm the head dog leader fellow (Paul Walker) wasn’t able to get the dogs out before winter hit, which meant they were stuck in the great wide open, under them stars of blue. They are in quite the predicament, these noble pups.
The last plot point you’re getting is that Paul Walker rants and raves a bunch about how he’s got to get back to his dogs while people keep telling him to be realistic. But the dogs are all he has you see; they are all he’s freakin’ got! It’s this set-up of love vs. futility that’s so damn appalling in a film like this; if you love the thing so much then head back no matter what, otherwise quit complaining. No one wants to party with a guy who babbles about how he had to leave his dogs behind to freeze to death. Also, as long as we’re holding an intervention for Paul Walker’s character I’d like to point out that these dogs were of the Siberian Husky and Malamute breeds. These dogs slept in the snow like it was a damn four star Hyatt and we’re supposed to be on the edge of our seat praying for their survival? They’ve got a lot of fur, it’s not like eight shaved poodles had been left out there.
Did I mention that hunting birds and eating dead Killer Whales is also in their survival repertoire? It is hard to feel sorry for creatures that seem uniquely suited to the environment The dogs also talk to each other in the language of barks, which makes this film ready made for “Mystery Science 3000”.
I can’t recommend this film for anyone without children. It just doesn’t have enough interesting moments. There are one or two pretty shots of Antarctica and another scene that will make you jump, but the plot is very weak overall. If you are looking for a film about dogs I’d suggest Benji, 101 Dalmatians, or Cujo. If you want to go the snow route March of the Penguins might capture your fancy. If you need a nap try Eight Below.