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August 27, 2018

White Fang (1991) --- "Boy Befriends A Wolf-Dog. Their Bond Will Warm Your Heart."

Plot Summary
This adaptation of Jack London's wilderness tale focuses on young Jack Conroy (Ethan Hawke), who has arrived in Alaska to search for a gold mine. When Jack encounters White Fang, a dog/wolf hybrid who has been cruelly treated by his owner, Beauty Smith (James Remar), he rescues the canine from the jaws of death during a fight with a fierce bulldog. Aided by his friend Alex Larson (Klaus Maria Brandauer), Jack nurses White Fang back to health, and the animal becomes a close companion to the men. (1)

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Hello, Movie Buffs! 
    First I would like to say that I have yet to read the book, White Fang, but after seeing this film I can say that I am more eager to do so. White Fang (1991) is loosely based on the Jack London’s novel, of the same name, and is a good family adventure that gets you involved with the story, courtesy of Walt Disney Studios. The film does show animal cruelty in a couple scenes but before the film begins a disclaimer appears on the screen stating that all animal scenes were done safely and an animal protection program monitored the animals throughout the film’s production.
     Jack (Ethan Hawk) is an emotional person who often dreams of a life where he can stay with those he loves without being forced to move on. And the adventure he embarks on in Yukon territory fulfills this desire of his. We see glimpses of the harsh reality that is nature through steep mountain climbs and icy rivers. Amongst all the wildlife there are human tendencies that push people to survive their unending ordeals, and this makes the film so much more captivating. The story contains strong themes of friendship and loyalty between humans and animals and follows rugged people in a rugged land.
     The cinematography is beautifully shot and further enhances the beautiful Alaskan landscape. According to a few friends, Alaska is one of the few places that have some of the most beautiful frozen scenery than any other place, and you can see the evidence of that throughout the film. As aforementioned, the cinematography was beautifully shot but it is unclear as to why director Randall Kleiser (Blue Lagoon; Grease) chose not to shoot the film in anamorphic Panavision - Super 8 (2011), Snow White and the Huntsman (2012), and Battleship (2012). When filming in breathtaking parts of the world you have to take full advantage of the landscape through the camera lens. But other than that small issue the film is great. The background score by Basil Poledouris' (The Blue Lagoon) suites the film’s mood and theme perfectly, there were some touches of early 90’s Hans Zimmer sound like Bird on a Wire (1990) and K2 (1991). There is not a lot of action but the few moments that we are graced with are more than substantial for the film as a whole.
     The acting is pretty good. Ethan Hawk (Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets) is a relatively underrated actor of his generation but here, in one of his younger roles, as Jack Conroy, he does a good job and proves that he can take the lead as the primary focus. Jack’s story does not take place is without peril but the way he builds a relationship with the wolf-dog White Fang (played by the Alaskan malamute Jed) is touching to see. The training that the filmmakers did with the animals is impressive to see. Klaus Maria Brandauer (Out of Africa) shines as Alex, who ends up becoming a fatherly figure and business partner to Jack throughout the film.

    Overall, White Fang (1991) is a fun family film about the friendship between man and animal. This film is suitable for children and there are some good laughs for the adults. Whether you are a familiar with Jack London’s novels or not this film will warm your heart. I recommend this film to everyone.

"Mia Tuk. White Fang"
- Grey Beaver

Final Vote
Worth Seeing:  7.6 of 10 stars
Worth Buying:  7.6 of 10 stars

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