CHANNEL 4 4SEVEN E4 MORE4 FILM4 4MUSIC 4oD

Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • PG
  • Adventure, Drama
  • 2006
  • 120 mins

Eight Below

Eight Below

Synopsis

Extreme weather conditions threaten the lives of a South Pole guide's beloved dog team. Adventure movie starring Paul Walker, and directed by Frank Marshall

About

Antarctica, 1993. Jerry (Walker), a guide at a US scientific base, is emotionally distant and, even though implausibly beautiful pilot Katie (Bloodgood) has the hots for him, he's only happy when spending time with his team of sledge-pulling huskies.

After a disastrous expedition with a meteor-hunting scientist (Plunkett), Jerry wakes up off-base in hospital to learn that, because of a storm, the base has been evacuated and his beloved dogs abandoned for the winter. While he dedicates himself to finding someone to fund an out-of-season trip back to the base, the plucky hounds fight for survival.

The title's double meaning might not make sense outside the USA - eight only summons up images of extreme cold if you think in Fahrenheit rather than Celsius - but cute doggies (eight, of course - do keep up) stranded in Antarctica, works whatever language you speak. And, while the story's "inspired by true events" tag is misleading (two dogs belonging to the Japanese expedition survived for months in 1958, as chronicled in 1983's Nankyoku Monogatari, a far superior, but less-child friendly, movie), it's nevertheless compelling.

Perhaps inspired by the American public's recent love affair with snow-bound documentary March Of The Penguins (the film opens with shots of penguins jumping off ice-floes), Eight Below feels refreshingly rooted in reality. The dogs don't pull computer-generated expressions (as was the case in the execrable Cuba Gooding Jnr vehicle, Snow Dogs) and - tissues at the ready - not all of them make it out alive.

This, however, is Disney and things are never allowed to get too nasty. For a start, Jerry feeds his dogs on fish, not the huge chunks of bloody seal meat they'd receive in reality. The film does make up for this sanitization later on when the dogs kill seagulls to survive and stumble upon a killer whale carcass (how it came to be beached on the ice, we won't dwell upon).

Kids will go for this film, but the real reason Eight Below has enjoyed box office success in the US is because it works for adults, too. Walker has never been better, which may not be saying much, but his shy everyman is infinitely more palatable than the unconvincing tough-guy of 2 Fast 2 Furious or Running Scared. Support from bumbling friend Jason Biggs (American Pie) provides a few chuckles and Bloodgood is, in the parlance of 1970s TV execs, "one for the dads".

The film's first half is genuinely exciting, too, with the doomed trek to find the meteorite coming over like a kids' version of Touching The Void. Prolonged scenes of husky survival don't quite hold an adult's attention, but there are some fantastic moments here, too: regardless of age, you'll jump out of your skin Jaws-style during the scary leopard seal sequence.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Moon Bloodgood, Bruce Greenwood, Gerard Plunkett, Jason Biggs, Paul Walker
  • Director: Frank Marshall
  • Screen Writer: David DiGilio
  • Producer: David Hoberman, Patrick Crowley, Doug Davison
  • Photographer: Don Burgess
  • Composer: Mark Isham, Kim Francis

In a nutshell

Kids will be enraptured (and a tad frightened) and all but the stoniest-hearted adults will join them for a bit of a cry.

by Ian Winterton

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 Night Passage

    Night Passage

    James Stewart stars as a railroad man hired to secretly carry a payroll despite his suspected connections to outlaws

  • Film4 Raiders From Beneath The Sea

    Raiders From Beneath The Seas

    Scuba-divers plan a bank robbery on Catalina island, but not everything goes to plan when it comes to their underwater escape

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Gearing up for the Glasgow Film Festival 2015

    The Glasgow Film Festival programme is announced and features Film4-backed films Second Coming and Catch Me Daddy plus much, much more, from 18th February to 1st March It¿s almost time once more for

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story of Dream Alliance

    As Louise Osmond's inspirational documentary about an unlikely group of friends who breed themselves a racehorse is about to premiere at Sundance 2015, Catherine Bray catches up with the director for

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share