"When the Dogs Display More Virtues than People. . ."
EIGHT BELOW is loosely based on a true story about a Japanese Antarctica expedition that went back to save their dogs. This production follows the arc of the original story but turns it into an American movie. It is interesting that the Japanese producers of the original Japanese movie are still involved.
On an American scientific base in Antarctica, survival guide Jerry Shepard is told to take a geologist named Davis, who is an Antartic greenhorn, up to an out of the way mountain to look for a meteorite that may be from the planet Mercury. Jerry protests that the ice is thin this time of year, and the weather is treacherous, but he is ordered to go anyway. Because the ice is thin, he cannot take snow cats or snowmobiles, but must rely on his beloved dog team.
Sure enough on the way to the mountain, the dogsled falls into a crevasse but Jerry rescues Davis. Davis is still intent on finding his meteorite and ignores the difficulty of the journey. Eventually, he locates his meteorite but falls off a cliff and through the ice. Davis is saved by one of the dogs, who courageously crawls across the ice but Davis has broken his leg. Jerry braves frostbite to get Davis back in the midst of a driving storm, the worst storm of the century.
The plane takes off with the human inhabitants of the research facility, leaving the dogs behind, much to Jerry’s chagrin. The dogs have been chained to a very tight tether. Jerry was told in the delirium of his frostbite that the female pilot Katie would go back for the dogs the next day, but the weather keeps anyone from going back.
Back in the states, Jerry almost runs out of options trying to get someone interested in rescuing the dogs. Meanwhile, the dogs break free, except for the elderly Jack who dies, and perform some incredible feats to survive. They take care of their wounded. They trick the predatory leopard seal, they sacrifice themselves for the other dogs, and they exhibit more virtues than many of the human beings of Hollywood movies. When the most heroic characters in Hollywood movies are dogs and penguins, it presents an interesting insight into our contemporary society.
Families will fall in love with EIGHT BELOW. The camerawork is extraordinary. Paul Walker does a wonderful job as survival guide Jerry, but Bruce Greenwood steals the movie as the scientist who’s completely self-absorbed, but then realizes he has to change. The storyline is thrilling and action packed, but also very subtle. This is also some of the best dialogue in recent movies. And, of course, the acting of the dogs is incredible. Months of training paid off in an extraordinary display of character by the dogs.
Director/producer Frank Marshall has done some memorable movies (RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, SEABISCUIT, ALIVE, EMPIRE OF THE SUN, BACK TO THE FUTURE, ARACHNOPHOBIA), and this is one of his best. If you want a movie that will teach your children wonderful virtues, that will give you a new vista on life, and that will keep you on the edge of your seat, EIGHT BELOW is the movie for you.
It should be noted that the movie doesn’t contain any overt environmentalist or evolutionary elements, though it doesn’t have any religious elements either. It does contain many moral virtues and people trying to act morally.
EIGHT BELOW exceeds all expectations. It is an extremely entertaining adventure story. Disney hits a home run with EIGHT BELOW.
(BB, C, L, VV, N, A, M) Strong moral worldview about caring for others and animals with elements of self-sacrifice and surprisingly free from environmental and evolution elements which would fit into the storyline, but no overt religious perspective; five "h" words; intense scenes of jeopardy with natural disasters, that is, man falls into crevase but is rescued, man falls down cliff, breaks leg and falls through ice but is rescued, man's fingers are badly frostbitten but he is treated and cured, dog bitten by leopard seal, whale gnawed by leopard seal, dogs kill birds, dogs bite leopard seal, older dog dies, younger dog hurt in fall and dies, but nothing gruesome or excessive; no fornication or other sexual immorality, but a lingering kiss; upper male nudity as men in bathing suits go from sauna into snow; alcohol use; no smoking; and, scientist learns to put others before his personal quest for knowledge and glory.
EIGHT BELOW is based on a true story about a Japanese Antarctica expedition. On an American scientific base in Antarctica, survival guide Jerry Shepard tries to take geologist Davis up to an out-of-the-way mountain to look for a meteorite that may be from the planet Mercury. Davis is still intent on finding his meteorite and ignores the difficulty of the journey. Eventually, he locates his meteorite but falls off a cliff and through the ice. Davis is saved by one of Jerry's sled dogs, and Jerry struggles to bring Davis back to civilization. When they fly out for medical care, they must leave the dogs to fend for themselves in a terrible storm. Jerry seeks to rescue the dogs, who display incredible survival skills while they wait for him to return.
EIGHT BELOW exceeds all expectations. Families will fall in love with the movie. It is an extremely entertaining, exciting, well-acted, and well-directed adventure story. If you want a movie that will teach your children wonderful virtues, that will give you a new vista on life, and that will keep you on the edge of your seat, EIGHT BELOW is that movie.