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) 61%

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) 9%

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 (2020) , 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 (2020) , 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 (2020) , 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 (2020) , 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 (2020) , a documentary about the life of Robbie Robertson and his time with The Band, is at 72%.
  • Jinpa (Zhuang si le yi zhi yang) (2020) , about a truck driver in Tibet who picks up a mysterious hitchhiker and discovers their lives are intertwined, is at 71%.
  • Balloon (2020) , 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 (Le jeune Ahmed) (2020) , 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 (2020) , 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

kids SDCC richard e. Grant asian-american television Horror Valentine's Day Turner Classic Movies Amazon Mary Poppins Returns romance Countdown USA Oscars SXSW 2015 news halloween Disney Plus HBO Polls and Games scary movies sequels FXX reboot Avengers spanish Pirates singing competition Captain marvel X-Men LGBT Summer canceled TV shows Britbox Fox Searchlight Hallmark Christmas movies harry potter criterion Syfy period drama spinoff Crunchyroll IFC DC streaming service dc BAFTA OWN Amazon Studios GIFs reviews Biopics ghosts MSNBC adaptation Family Marathons Netflix 71st Emmy Awards remakes Sony Pictures french halloween tv docudrama Emmy Nominations Black History Month Holidays 2019 Spike video on demand football game of thrones Paramount robots discovery concert TCA 2017 Ghostbusters Character Guide biography all-time Nickelodeon cancelled television Endgame Crackle breaking bad Schedule Arrowverse boxoffice PBS Mystery versus MTV supernatural witnail universal monsters New York Comic Con toy story films YouTube Christmas Cosplay mockumentary true crime crossover Kids & Family Lifetime ESPN animated Disney streaming service Song of Ice and Fire YA indiana jones E3 Holiday Masterpiece Drama Bravo Mudbound miniseries El Rey Showtime independent nfl Sneak Peek IFC Films book Mary poppins cults 24 frames Nominations Starz batman dramedy 72 Emmy Awards BET Binge Guide Anna Paquin Marvel HBO Go DC Universe Set visit Sundance TV stoner crime thriller Writers Guild of America Pop TV historical drama slashers Paramount Network BBC Certified Fresh thriller rotten zero dark thirty quibi Rocketman Election USA Network toronto Teen Discovery Channel psycho First Look Hear Us Out TruTV spain free movies Freeform cancelled TV series Sundance Now blaxploitation golden globes south america name the review ABC Watching Series Vudu The Purge Extras Martial Arts Toys Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Sundance Walt Disney Pictures GLAAD screen actors guild japanese Universal BBC America rotten movies we love ITV TBS political drama First Reviews based on movie VICE MCU 45 VH1 Country Disney Channel Film Festival dogs Adult Swim werewolf emmy awards Musicals stand-up comedy green book CBS cooking Logo comics worst movies The Arrangement mission: impossible Comic Book 2020 Mindy Kaling Apple Turner Music The Walking Dead Rocky blockbuster TCM Apple TV Plus Film Esquire Black Mirror talk show Tubi Cannes adventure American Society of Cinematographers A&E theme song fast and furious Trailer Year in Review President revenge crime Sci-Fi HBO Max facebook Rock binge BET Awards war Ovation Acorn TV composers franchise Marvel Studios cartoon serial killer Calendar 2017 Amazon Prime Video Super Bowl series chucky social media Opinion Spectrum Originals Apple TV+ Star Wars christmas movies psychological thriller worst Comedy Shudder Academy Awards hist Women's History Month Reality TV comic casting crime drama Pride Month The Academy CNN doctor who ratings Cartoon Network comiccon RT History Disney+ Disney Plus canceled Winter TV NYCC tv talk WGN spy thriller Emmys Animation a nightmare on elm street 007 Podcast Television Critics Association disaster travel Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Superheroe joker Dark Horse Comics 2018 Spring TV San Diego Comic-Con Creative Arts Emmys best parents hollywood critics DC Comics documentaries medical drama die hard YouTube Red 4/20 cancelled mutant movies laika cats cancelled TV shows police drama cars spider-man teaser what to watch archives Best and Worst The Witch Nat Geo italian GoT VOD politics transformers screenings elevated horror sequel strong female leads TV Land Tumblr AMC LGBTQ video Food Network superhero festival unscripted Disney Chernobyl CMT Elton John Reality Competition Video Games Heroines jamie lee curtis Premiere Dates Tarantino Marvel Television satire TCA children's TV Trivia anthology 2016 Infographic classics obituary Stephen King Tomatazos Pop cops comedies Brie Larson RT21 latino SundanceTV dark FOX technology FX diversity science fiction Mary Tyler Moore scorecard BBC One 20th Century Fox directors vampires Funimation CW Seed sitcom Baby Yoda Travel Channel NBC YouTube Premium Lifetime Christmas movies Ellie Kemper dragons WarnerMedia TLC Musical Columbia Pictures Superheroes See It Skip It FX on Hulu A24 PaleyFest Classic Film spanish language Grammys Fall TV sag awards documentary Hallmark zombie Interview Fox News finale Action DirecTV DGA TCA Winter 2020 zombies Western Comics on TV twilight aliens nbcuniversal Comedy Central nature E! space award winner National Geographic Thanksgiving History streaming Box Office movie child's play TNT Photos anime TIFF TV renewals Peacock The CW festivals Hulu venice cinemax Red Carpet OneApp romantic comedy PlayStation 21st Century Fox Television Academy Awards indie Lucasfilm Pixar justice league renewed TV shows Warner Bros. foreign Pet Sematary APB Winners Trophy Talk Lionsgate ABC Family game show Fantasy Epix Rom-Com hispanic Star Trek sports Awards Tour Netflix Christmas movies Shondaland natural history Amazon Prime TCA Awards Quiz stop motion CBS All Access dceu