Opening 23 Mar 2006
Jerry Shepherd (Paul Walker), Antarctic guide and dog lover, lives and works in one of the harshest environments on Earth. When his boss Dr. Andy Harrison (Gerard Plunkett) asks him to take a scientist who is in search of a one of a kind meteorite to an even remoter part of the continent, he hesitates due to it being late in the season and the ice being thin. The only way to make the trip is by dog sled, and even then it is risky. Jerry and the doctor do make and survive the trip, though just barely and just before the biggest Antarctic storm in decades strikes. They are immediately med-evacuated to not nearby McMurdo station. Jerry at first refuses to leave his dogs, which are his life, behind, but gives in when his pilot and friend Katie (Moon Bloodgood) promises a return flight for them. Katie is unable to keep this promise and soon nearly everyone, including Jerry, is evacuated off Antarctica due to the ever-intensifying storm. While Jerry, in the USA, tries to come to grips with having abandoned his dogs, Max, Maya, Shorty, Dewey, Truman, Shadow, Buck, and Old Jack fight for survival alone on Antarctica.
Eight Below is truly a beautiful tale of survival in the wilderness. And while Paul Walker’s and the rest of the cast’s performance, including Jason Biggs as the goofy Charlie Cooper, aren’t bad, the dogs definitely steal the show. Their training, performance, and expression of emotion, though maybe a bit humanized at times, is absolutely amazing. In addition, the scenery is breathtaking and the viewer gets a peek at what life at the bottom of the world may be like. Equally amazing is that Eight Below is based on a true story. Despite the corny perfectly timed shooting stars that streak across the screen from time to time, I was astonished every time the number of days that the dogs had been alone appeared at the bottom of the screen. But being that this film is Walt Disney, don’t expect adult language, sex, schemes, or violence. It is without doubt a family film. Eight Below, though not without adventure and peril, is a fantastic, albeit clean, film that both children and adults, and especially dog lovers, will enjoy. (Shauna Keeley)