Hey, all you dog lovers out there, have we got a movie for you! Eight Below--a Kleenex-producing tale of survival and friendship--may just make you grab your favorite pooch and promise you'll never leave him/her stranded in the frozen wastelands.
While Antarctica may look like a bundle of fun, it really isn't--but it IS teeming with important geological discoveries. Or so they say. Our story, inspired on real events, begins when geologist Davis (Bruce Greenwood) arrives at one of the field bases, ready to find the next greatest rock. He meets survival guide Jerry Shepard (Paul Walker), wisecrack cartographer Cooper (Jason Biggs) and beautiful bush pilot Katie (Moon Bloodgood), as well as Shepard's team of eight skilled sled dogs. When the expedition goes awry, however, Jerry and Davis narrowly escape with their lives, thanks to the steadfast determination of the dogs. Now, because of their injuries and an encroaching storm, the group must evacuate and leave the beloved dogs behind--with little hope of returning to retrieve them. Stranded, the intelligent, courageous dogs fight to make it through the most unforgiving winter on the planet, while the heartbroken Jerry is driven to mount a seemingly impossible rescue mission.
Say what you will about the rather vapid Walker's so-called acting skills, the outdoorsy fellow still knows how to pick projects best suited for himself. Last summer, he went deep sea diving in the Bahamas with the beautiful Jessica Alba in Into the Blue and didn't really have to do much but look buff and bronzed. Now, in Eight Below, he trudges through ice and snow with a pack of beautiful Huskies looking wind-burned and sad. Not sure where the trade off is, but Walker manages to effectively convey a guy dedicated to rescuing his best friends. You root for him all the way. Greenwood also does a nice turn as the geologist . He seems to be, at first, just another egghead who only cares about finding his meteor rock, at any cost. But after the dogs save his life and he sees how tortured Jerry is over leaving them (because it's basically his fault they are having to rush out), Davis grows a heart. American Pie's Biggs is mostly around to provide the laughs.
Talk about a bitch of a film shoot. Sub-freezing temperatures, scads of ice fields, dogs--director Frank Marshall must be crazy! Best known as Steven Spielberg's longtime producing partner for Amblin Entertainment, Marshall has only had a few directing gigs, one of them being the tense cannibal/survivalist film Alive!. It's obvious he knows about being cold. For Eight Below, however, they didn't actually film in Antarctica because, well, they would have froze to death, opting instead for the ice capped mountains in British Columbia, as well as some breathtaking shots of glaciers in Greenland. You really can't tell the difference (like we would know). And as far as the dogs are concerned, Marshall and his crew couldn't have found more gorgeous, well-trained animals. Apparently, since 1993, sled dogs have been banned in Antarctica to protect the continent's seals from exposure to the disease known as distemper. But when they were used, they were an integral part of any expedition. You can just see the intelligence in these dogs' eyes and watching them work together to survive is as thrilling as it is heartbreaking. Marshall may be crazy, but he knows what he's doing.
Hollywood.com rated this film three stars.