Critics Consensus

The Call of the Wild Is a Tame Journey to the Uncanny Valley

Plus, Emma. is Certified Fresh, and guess Brahms: The Boy II's Tomatometer score.

by | February 20, 2020 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a courageous canine (The Call of the Wild, starring Harrison Ford and Dan Stevens) and a devilish doll (Brahms: The Boy II, starring Katie Holmes and Ralph Ineson). What are the critics saying?


The Call of the Wild (2020) 63%

Jack London’s celebrated adventure novel The Call of the Wild has made it to the big screen a handful of times since its publication in 1903, but none of the prior efforts had the benefit of advanced computer technology to help bring the story’s central character, the St. Bernard-Scotch Collie mix named Buck, to life. As risky a proposition as that may be, reviews say it mostly pays off in this week’s The Call of the Wild. The story follows the CGI-animated Buck as he is dognapped from his blissful domestic life in California and sold as a beast of burden in the Alaskan Yukon. There, he comes under the care of a postman (Omar Sy) and learns the way of the sled dog before a series of misfortunes lands him in the hands of an aging gold prospector named John Thornton (Harrison Ford), and the two form an unlikely bond. Critics say The Call of the Wild is a mostly genial — if slightly sanitized — retelling of the tale that makes the most of its scenic locales and a grizzled, world-weary Harrison Ford, who brings both pathos and warmth to his character. Although the computerized Buck might be a distraction for some, the human performances help ground the film every time it treads a bit too far into the uncanny valley. That said, parents should be forewarned that, although the darkest moments (read: deaths) take place off screen, there are still scenes of animal cruelty and a palpable sadness that creeps in from time to time, so be prepared to comfort more sensitive toddlers.


Brahms: The Boy II (2020) 11%

2016’s The Boy wasn’t a critical hit, but it didn’t cost a lot to make and earned enough money at the box office to be considered a moderate success, so a sequel was put into the works. The result is this week’s Brahms: The Boy II, in which the titular doll from the first film is gifted with a new family to terrorize. Katie Holmes takes center stage as the concerned mother of a troubled boy named Jude (Christopher Convery) who, along with her husband (Owain Yeoman), moves into a new house for a change of scenery. It isn’t long before Jude discovers and befriends Brahms, the porcelain doll leftover from the last family who lived in the house, and of course, spooky things begin to happen. We won’t spoil anything here, but based on the trailer, suffice it to say that the sequel appears to retcon the big reveal from the first film in service of a more… franchiseable plot development. If that sounds like conjecture, it’s because it is; the film wasn’t widely screened prior to release, and reviews have yet to come in for Brahms. In other words, guess that Tomatometer!


Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • Vitalina Varela (2019) , a drama about a woman from Cape Verde who returns to Lisbon to bury her estranged husband, is at 100%.
  • Goldie (2020) , about a young woman striving to keep her troubled family together while she pursues her dreams, is at 100%.
  • Premature (2019) , a romance about a young poet who falls in love with a music producer just as she prepares to go to college, is at 96%.
  • Ride Your Wave (2019) , a Japanese animated film about a young woman who is able to summon her deceased boyfriend with a special song, is at 89%.
  • EMMA. (2020) , starring Anya Taylor-Joy as the titular matchmaker in a new adaptation of the Jane Austen novel, is Certified Fresh at 88%.
  • Standing Up, Falling Down (2019) , starring Ben Schwartz as a failed comedian who returns home to Long Island and reexamines his life, is at 88%.
  • Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band (2019) , a documentary about the life of Robbie Robertson and his time with The Band, is at 72%.
  • Jinpa (Zhuang si le yi zhi yang) (2018) , about a truck driver in Tibet who picks up a mysterious hitchhiker and discovers their lives are intertwined, is at 71%.
  • Balloon (2018) , a dramatic thriller about the real-life escape from East Germany by two families who built a hot air balloon, is at 65%.
  • Young Ahmed (2019) , the Dardenne brothers’ drama about the dilemma faced by a 13-year-old Muslim boy living in Belgium, is at 55%.
  • The Night Clerk (2020) , starring Tye Sheridan as a socially awkward front desk clerk whose unusual behavior makes him the prime suspect in a murder, is at 47%.
  • Seberg (2019) , starring Kristen Stewart in a drama about actress Jean Seberg‘s brushes with the law over her political activisim in the 1960s, is at 39%.
  • The Last Thing He Wanted (2020) , starring Anne Hathaway and Ben Affleck in Dee Rees’ political thriller about a journalist who becomes entangled in international espionage thanks to a request from her dying father, is at 7%.

Thumbnail image by 20th Century Studios

Tag Cloud

Disney streaming service french scene in color film series adaptation Holidays Best and Worst screen actors guild olympics breaking bad South by Southwest Film Festival Musicals Watching Series independent DC Universe comics king kong CBS All Access remakes 94th Oscars NYCC composers Bravo Spike transformers Geeked Week DGA San Diego Comic-Con Tomatazos batman anthology a nightmare on elm street Pixar dogs comic book movies quibi witnail Tarantino scene in color vampires nature halloween tv 2018 Arrowverse tv talk Tumblr new york comic Sci-Fi archives Sundance Now football social media RT History prank Toys screenings Reality Competition Vudu IFC Films Emmy Nominations Rocketman IFC OneApp Walt Disney Pictures video 2015 trophy Comic Book critics parents boxoffice Mary poppins biography travel ABC Family richard e. Grant Oscars Television Academy police drama FXX GLAAD miniseries Focus Features free movies popular WGN Shudder DC streaming service Image Comics Emmys sequels comedies jurassic park Native Starz video on demand Song of Ice and Fire japanese WarnerMedia scary New York Comic Con SDCC black comedy Opinion spider-man Fox Searchlight ratings adenture Paramount Network feel good Legendary Polls and Games new zealand Hollywood Foreign Press Association ABC Signature psychological thriller binge cancelled Freeform genre Action Mystery hidden camera casting Fall TV CBS historical drama Crunchyroll Showtime 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards political drama Kids & Family Turner Classic Movies VICE Syfy MGM GIFs TLC Martial Arts Tubi documentary game show Disney+ Disney Plus Heroines Stephen King Amazon Studios docudrama hist die hard space Lucasfilm Exclusive Video Comic-Con@Home 2021 Disney scene in color series NBA Pop sopranos MSNBC TV Land new star wars movies cops serial killer stand-up comedy Dark Horse Comics DirecTV Christmas asian-american spain YouTube Premium Pacific Islander streaming movies Funimation award winner sequel Netflix Christmas movies Infographic Food Network sag awards FX teaser doctor who legend ghosts Shondaland Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Superheroes australia 72 Emmy Awards Tags: Comedy 99% politics Masterpiece Video Games Universal Pictures Travel Channel james bond HBO Max E! sitcom The Witch unscripted twilight Tokyo Olympics cults Sundance TV Certified Fresh Cosplay suspense Alien YouTube worst movies BET E3 jamie lee curtis Universal book adaptation lord of the rings golden globes Creative Arts Emmys trailers Summer laika Hallmark action-comedy young adult X-Men razzies Indigenous zero dark thirty Endgame know your critic target Prime Video Pride Month 45 Television Critics Association directors The Purge scary movies Columbia Pictures festivals TV Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Character Guide rotten movies we love dark TruTV theme song mission: impossible satire debate pirates of the caribbean concert Photos saw PaleyFest GoT Extras Countdown dramedy Film Festival Cannes Black History Month Sneak Peek Broadway TCA 2017 spy thriller strong female leads 4/20 Esquire Podcast Pirates 20th Century Fox SXSW 2022 National Geographic TCA renewed TV shows VOD Nominations aapi medical drama foreign HBO crime Paramount sports telelvision marvel comics Winter TV zombies YouTube Red war Trailer Mindy Kaling Paramount Plus finale Musical 1990s chucky CNN Best Actor Marvel superman Rock docuseries Spectrum Originals 2017 Marvel Studios franchise blaxploitation Nat Geo Neflix monster movies hispanic Writers Guild of America ViacomCBS Red Carpet rt labs President Disney Channel Mary Poppins Returns hispanic heritage month Rocky Crackle First Look supernatural Amazon cancelled television what to watch movies RT21 fresh Avengers FX on Hulu Adult Swim Wes Anderson Valentine's Day 90s canceled Anna Paquin rt archives dc all-time Schedule Acorn TV scorecard Lifetime YA slashers Film Lifetime Christmas movies ITV A&E Awards Elton John children's TV crime drama discovery USA psycho toronto Box Office LGBT Academy Awards latino TCM kong leaderboard spinoff posters A24 BET Awards canceled TV shows comic books child's play Best Director venice golden globe awards Sony Pictures series Disney Plus documentaries criterion biopic 2021 Premiere Dates natural history Amazon Prime justice league SXSW Pop TV rt labs critics edition Mary Tyler Moore Western Horror Fantasy high school Classic Film Baby Yoda slasher zombie Music Interview BBC America italian ESPN nfl spanish language HBO Go blockbusters Oscar cancelled TV series black PBS king arthur Family streamig south america green book 93rd Oscars The Walking Dead werewolf Turner See It Skip It heist movie American Society of Cinematographers game of thrones Teen Grammys cats DC Comics festival dragons USA Network comic book movie Sundance AMC universal monsters royal family critic resources Amazon Prime Video Nickelodeon Drama El Rey 24 frames romance indiana jones Trivia NBC robots summer TV preview MCU based on movie art house 2020 mcc APB superhero Awards Tour mob TV movies book 71st Emmy Awards summer TV Marathons Star Trek Star Wars Winners Pet Sematary cartoon rom-coms halloween versus cooking films summer preview dexter joker indie Holiday First Reviews stop motion PlayStation Fox News mutant Warner Bros. BBC live event TNT name the review Captain marvel diversity interviews Sony blockbuster Netflix target scene in color FOX 2019 crime thriller MTV stoner Ellie Kemper The CW fast and furious kaiju Paramount Pictures SundanceTV singing competition anime wonder woman aliens Quiz TCA Awards adventure women news disaster Ovation Hulu Epix boxing elevated horror Mudbound IMDb TV reviews nbcuniversal dreamworks television Comedy facebook reboot technology true crime cancelled TV shows harry potter TV renewals cinemax talk show HFPA Star Wars Celebration Reality Instagram Live worst Best Picture streaming Discovery Channel Spring TV Black Mirror Superheroe Calendar CMT crossover vs. ABC ID Lionsgate Women's History Month Fargo comiccon marvel cinematic universe obi wan deadpool Apple Year in Review live action Chernobyl Britbox obituary cars 79th Golden Globes Awards The Walt Disney Company TCA Winter 2020 OWN Best Actress Hear Us Out AMC Plus Trophy Talk period drama Comics on TV dceu BBC One 73rd Emmy Awards animated classics BAFTA Country science fiction 007 Apple TV Plus spider-verse History best Animation TIFF Comedy Central LGBTQ Election Ghostbusters rotten Biopics Thanksgiving mockumentary TV One emmy awards broadcast Marvel Television hollywood kids Cartoon Network Rom-Com The Arrangement toy story romantic comedy 21st Century Fox Brie Larson international thriller Super Bowl VH1 basketball spanish Binge Guide Set visit Apple TV+ christmas movies gangster Peacock 2016 Logo revenge The Academy CW Seed movie japan godzilla Hallmark Christmas movies TBS