Movie Review: Eight Below

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Eight Below is a story of survival against incredible odds. Eight dogs are left behind in one of the most inhospitable places on Earth, Antarctica, at the onset of one of the worst winters in history.

Few in the world even dare to venture the frozen wastes of Antarctica. It is a place that does not provide the essentials for life. Unless you have them brought to you, you cannot survive in Antarctica’s harsh environment. For those who are driven to survive there, their time is limited as the winter is brutal and stops travel on to and off of the frigid continent.

Gerry Shepherd (Paul Walker) is a guide in this harsh environment. He and his co-workers are stationed there to aid in expeditions in to the frozen lands that surround their camp.

His other companions at this camp are his team of eight working dogs. These friends are the muscle that pulls Gerry’s dog sled and then guide him home to camp. They are like part of his family, all with distinct personalities.

Gerry has been asked to guide an American geologist (Bruce Greenwood) to a mountain in hopes of making a scientific discovery. He now knows that the trip will be more dangerous than expected and decides that it would be safer to take the dog sled to travel to their destination. The ice in places will be too thin to take any other transportation.

Severe weather has been reported to the expedition team. Their adventure is cut short and they are forced to return to base for immediate evacuation. The dogs are left behind to be collected in a second rescue run… a run that never happens. Now alone, they must depend of their instincts and each other to survive.

Safe back in the US, Gerry’s conscience will not rest. He needs to know the fate of his family, the dogs that he loves and abandoned to die and is driven to get back and attempt to rescue them.

Ok, I’m a sap. I liked the attachment that you can’t help but feel for the dogs. They are his family after all. Besides, after you are formally introduced to them, you can’t help but be compelled to look for their individual traits and markings that make them distinct. Some of them are more dominant, some just plain goofy; all of them are lovable.

Is this a must see film? I don’t think so. It is a mushy and at times slow Disney flick. What that means is organized disorder with a side of heartbreak. What it doesn’t mean is a story with a motivated plot meant to capture your attention. Contrary to popular belief, not every movie that Disney produces is a gem. You’ll be interested in what happens, but it’s not all that exciting or unexpected.

If you love animals and want to see them in action, this is your film. Just remember that this is not a happy story so you’ll have to bring a box of tissues.