Quick Reviews: 'The Call Of The Wild', 'Bloodshot' | Harrison Ford, Adventure, Vin Diesel, Superhero
THE CALL OF THE WILD
A holy trilogy of CGI animal movies of the last few months has been completed as The Call Of The Wild joins the ranks of 'The Lion King' remake and 'Cats'. It’s not a remarkably high barrier but it might just edge out the others to emerge as the pack leader, separating from them by being actually somewhat emotionally available. Directed by Chris Sanders and written by Michael Green, based on the novel of the same name by Jack London, it shifts between being a voracious adventure film and a cute buddy comedy.
The film really only picks up when Buck (a dog who is the main character) is united with John Thornton (played by Harrison Ford). Even though their journey starts about an hour in since they only have a couple run-ins before that, there is immediately the kind of companionship that these movies need to have in order to tell a compelling story. Whether the scene requires Ford to act against a mo-cap suited man or nothing, he gets the most out of the material. I actually would’ve loved to see more of him during the first hour because the character seems deeply flawed and broken so there might’ve been interesting cinematic liberties you could’ve taken. Apparently though everything is fairly faithful to the source material. The story does get better as it goes on and Buck gets closer to wilderness.
While the last third gets pretty close to beautiful storytelling, the first two thirds really make it all seem disorganised. There are some awful attempts at comedy in the beginning where good characters, Perrault (Omar Sy) and Françoise (Cara Gee), are completely wasted. After that Buck goes to Hal (Dan Stevens), an annoyingly generic, moustache-twirling villain. At this point the movie tries to go darker by covering animal abuse but does it so poorly. Overall the movie just feels artificial. Visual effects make the production design seem underwhelming and you never get immersed so you’d feel like you're in Yukon. Nothing seems freezing cold or dangerous and the animals feel like movable cardboard cutouts. Usually VFX is used to fill out space or create something meaningful for the story so now that everything feels like a green screen or a dog in a mobile game, it rings hollow.
Smileys: Harrison Ford
Frowneys: Tone, VFX
The Call Of The Wild seems lost in the woods after not striking gold.
This movie took me back to a 10-year-old me who hadn’t seen many movies yet and I thought that I would’ve totally loved this then. Bloodshot might’ve very well been made in a lab for that demographic just like the titular character since it really does try to be sexy, action-packed and violent for a PG-rated film. You could say that it has a cool vibe and there is effort behind it, however the effort is only used narrowly for a few things.
Based on the first three-or-so scenes, Bloodshot seemed to be going in a different direction than it ultimately ended up going. It kind of felt like a psychological mind trip that a soldier was having with a military mission first followed by a romantic scene. Then there’s an odd scene where our main character Ray Garrison/''Bloodshot'' (played by Vin Diesel) is being held hostage by Martin Axe (Toby Kebbell) who comes in dancing to ‘Psycho Killer’ by Talking Heads. This scene’s end leads the whole story to flip upside down and not in a good way.
Besides the beginning there’s a flare-lit sequence in a tunnel which was well done in terms of action, VFX and lighting. Couple supporting actors in Lamorne Morris (as Wilfred) and Siddharth Dhananjay (Eric) bring much needed levity and fast-paced dialogue to the film and their characters also have a part to play in what ensues. Their coding skills weren't used just for hacking but for moving the plot forward as well.
During the beginning I thought in my head ”Oh finally they’re letting Vin Diesel act, it’s been like 15 years”. Due to the story flip he is pretty useless for the rest of it as he speaks in one note for 90 minutes while not being skilled enough to do the action scenes that are offered. Sam Heughan (Jimmy) is just a bore to watch since the character is the human equivalent of ”screw you”. Much of the story’s payoff is based on the pairing of Ray and KT (Eiza González) and they simply don’t have any chemistry. They really only share one proper scene together and most of that is Ray staring at her lustfully, other than that their partnership isn’t built at all.
Other problems arise in the action scenes as the VFX makes them look worse than most current video games and the unrelenting cuts that’ll make you disoriented. Bloodshot overall is just a $45 million wet dream for a creative team that has previously worked on 'Transformers', 'Fantasy Island' and video games. Director David S.F. Wilson especially seemingly forgot the active directing of actors and instead focused on VFX; ”We’ll just do it in post”.
Smileys: Lighting, Siddharth Dhananjay
Frowneys: Characterisation, Vin Diesel, directing
Drinking game: take a shot whenever there’s a drone shot of surroundings or when you can’t understand what Vin Diesel said.