Eight Below

MPAA Rating: PG

Entertainment: +3

Content: +2 1/2

Paul Walker, Bruce Greenwood, Jason Biggs. Action/adventure.

Inspired by a true story, Eight Below is an action-adventure about loyalty and the bonds of friendship set in the extreme wilderness of Antarctica. The film tells the story of three members of a scientific expedition who are forced to leave behind their team of beloved sled dogs due to a sudden accident and a threatening storm. During the harsh, Antarctic winter, the dogs must struggle for survival alone in the intense frozen wilderness for over 6 months until the adventurers can mount a rescue mission. The film is inspired by the events of a 1957 Japanese Antarctic Expedition, which served as the basis for the blockbuster Japanese film, Nankyoku Monogatari(Antarctica).

Dogs are an incredible gift to mankind. Some serve as our eyes and ears, while others stand in for our other inabilities. They serve & protect, love unconditionally, and compliment who we are. And some of them become movie stars. Indeed, Hollywood has manufactured a whole genre in order to salute our canine buddies. A few of these films can easily be called great (My Dog Skip, Lassie Come Home, Lady and the Tramp, Old Yeller, A Dog of Flanders, just to name a few). While Eight Below may not be able to reside among the great classic dog movies, it wouldnt be because of the animal stars. The problem lies in its two-legged filmmakers. The talking stars are a blah bunch with Jason Biggs acting the comic fool and everyone else doing little with the standard Disney stereotypes.

I hate to use the word awesome as it has become a colloquialism used by pimple-poppers to describe satisfaction derived from a McDonalds cheeseburger, but awesome is the right word for this films cinematography. Its full of impressive, almost unworldly locations and is photographed with tender Disney loving care.

Along with breath-taking visuals, theres an uplifting theme of friendship, respect for wildlife and, as in March of the Penguins, we see just how far the animal world will go to survive. In a time when audiences are subjected to pro messages concerning euthanasia (Million Dollar Baby, The Sea Inside), the need for abortion (Vera Drake), and desensitizing images of violence toward our fellow man (most films), here is a movie that reveals creatures in the wild sacrificing all in order to preserve life.

Exciting, moving, everything a dog movie should be, but parents of little ones beware: there are several tense moments and the film does deal with death. There is one jolting moment. I wont give it away here, but I do detail it in the content section. That said, the kids at the screening seemed to handle the spooky moment. I cant answer for their dreams later that night.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: 3 minor expletives hell

Profanity: None

Violence: mostly the film deals with the animals struggling with an unforgiving environment, the cold and falls off cliffs take the lives of a couple of the dogs; a man nearly falls to his death down a cavern; he later breaks a leg in a fall; the adventurers face several perilous situations; the dogs face down a dangerous seal in order to eat the carcass of a dead whale; the dogs catch seagulls for food. Blood: a little as a dog is wounded, but not excessive

Sex: None

Nudity: just the dogs

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: two scenes feature social drinking a man drinking a beer and another drinking a highball

Other: one jolting scene as a dog comes across the carcass of a dead whale, he starts to eat, then suddenly a ferocious, huge seal jumps out from inside the carcass everyone in the theater jumped; parents should attend to reassure little ones.

Running Time: 120 minutes
Intended Audience: Families

Click HERE for a PRINTER-FRIENDLY version of this review.