An engaging story that highlights why the dog is man's best friend.
Maybe they could have done a canine commentary?
Eight Below was one of those films that you'd really have to be a creep not to like. I'm not saying the people behind it should be getting their tuxes pressed for the Academy Awards but it isn't a bad movie just because it's got the Disney logo splattered all over it.
This film features Jerry (Paul Walker) as a guide for eight, lovable sled dogs who is forced to abandon them during the Antarctic winter. This now becomes the dog's story as their tale is one of survival. They aren't stuck in the cold for a few hours or a few days but six months! In the meantime, Jerry is rallying whatever forces he can so that he can save his friends. Filled with many ups and downs, false victories and many other devices, this movie is one that will leave you choked up and experiencing all the emotions that movies are supposed to bring out of you.
As I said, this isn't the best movie you will ever see but Eight Below is certainly worth watching and possibly even owning.
There are two commentary tracks on this DVD. One is with Frank Marshall and the film's producer Pat Crowley. The other one (and the one I listened to) is with Marshall, Paul Walker and the director of photography Don Burgess. I don't know why I expected this track to be more lively, I just thought that having Walker involved might spice things up. This is a fairly straight forward commentary track. They talk about the production, working with the dogs, forming attachments with animals and they even offer up an occasional anecdote.
Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary Track
A handful of deleted scenes make up this segment. I listened to the commentary that Frank Marshall does intermittently, mainly because I felt that I had heard everything that he needed to say about the film. He talks about why the shots were deleted, what he was going for with them and ultimately how the film worked just fine without them.
Making Of Featurette
Titled Running with the Dogs this is a pretty standard "making of" featurette. The cast and the crew talk about working with the animals and I sort of saw this as a primer for the audio commentaries. While I don't know that this is required viewing for people who own this DVD, I do think that it is a family friendly featurette that kids as well as adults can enjoy.
2.40:1 - Aspect Ratio. This movie has a grand, far reaching look to it but it being a Disney film that really doesn't surprise me much. Even on my tiny TV screen I still felt that I got the scope that Frank Marshall was trying to put across. Considering that my screen length is 9 inches, I certainly think that he and DP Don Burgess have done their jobs. This film moves at a quick pace but it doesn't really have the feel of a "children's movie."
English, Spanish and French - Dolby Digital 5.1. I didn't notice too much about the sound that grabbed my attention, but I think this probably has more to do with my TV having one speaker than it does anything else. The audio is solidly put together and I found that even out of one speaker, I was able to hear very small things that a unit like mine might not normally pick up on lesser discs.
Paul Walker is Photoshopped in on this front cover with eight dogs surrounding him. It is hard to describe the look on his face as anything but laughable. The back cover gives us some shots from the movie, a description of what Eight Below is about, a Special Features listing, a credits list and technical specs. Overall, the packaging is very accessible and something that I think parents will be happy to own or rent.
I have to admit that that when I saw that Paul Walker was doing this film, I couldn't help but be reminded about how Vin Diesel reignited his career with The Pacifier. Having seen both films, I think that from a purely artistic standpoint, Walker's film carries a bit more merit but I don't think Disney films gives actors the cred that say John Travolta's turn in Pulp Fiction brought him.
Simply put, Eight Below is a fine family film and one that will probably hold up well over the years.
Eight Below was released February 17, 2006.