The last major film dealing with sled dogs was Snow Dogs and what a dog it was. Eight Below redeems the sled dog pride.
The film based on a true story revolves around a team of sled dogs abandoned for six month in the Antarctic; it is the family film you must see. A classic Disney animal adventure without extravagant special effects or voice overs. Just a splendid story told the old fashion way. In fact you may have to fight back tears a few times regardless of your age.
Gerry Shepard (Paul Walker) is an arctic guide, his team of huskies out on a last ditch effort to help geologist Davis McLaren (Bruce Greenwood) find a rare meteorite and thus gain fame in the world of new Earth rocks. As the story goes, a huge storm hits forcing an emergency evacuation which cannot include the sled dogs. What should have been a return in days to save the animals turns into six agonizing months as Shepard attempts to find funding to get back to his team.
Though Walker's portrayal appears frozen, his animal counterparts deliver heart warming visuals and director Frank Marshall's ability to allow each animal carry a different part and manage to bring us to the edge of our seats can take our breath away. All this while delivering a story that is both triumphant and tragic - it's amazing.
We learn the names of each of the dogs, but Maya is the leader of the pack and as top dog she shows her loyalty to her team through bravery, compassion and sacrifice. The other animals bring both joy and sorrow to the story. Combine with faces to melt your heart they are compelling.
You may find yourself thinking Lassie or Old Yeller, but this is a film about the animals and their struggle to survive not about the humans that put them there. Though you will find the scenery frigid and stark, you will be warmed by this film with heart and soul.