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Arctic Dogs – Movie Review

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Arctic Dogs – Movie Review

Rating: C (Average)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Entertainment Studios

The sorts of animated films that get wide releases are often ones from major studios, which spend a decent amount of money on impressive visuals and amazing graphics. So it’s interesting when one from a less established company arrives that may not look as polished, but there’s still promise there. Arctic Dogs is a quaint little film with a few clever ideas and it does look nice, but the story falls short and there is too much reliance on the celebrity voice cast. It’s a rather harmless children’s picture, although it’s a little too easy to doze off in the last act and there was certainly a lot of potential there to create something more memorable.

Arctic Dogs seems to mostly shine in the visual department. While nobody will mistake this for a Pixar or DreamWorks production, director Aaron Woodley and his animation team do make the Arctic landscape presentable and there are even some amusing visual gags. There’s already one right off the bat when the lead protagonist, a white fox named Swifty, shows off his camouflage skills. Quite a few of these are peppered throughout the film and the character designers make the large ensemble of animals appealing to look at. While the computer animation is decent, the hand-drawn opening titles do sort of make one wish the entire movie looked like that.

The story could have been stronger, though, as we get the standard tale of the hero who wishes for something more. Swifty isn’t exactly the most compelling lead and the other animals that surround him aren’t much better. We get the standard goofy animal sidekicks, neither of which are all that amusing. There’s also a potential love interest and an evil walrus. The dialogue doesn’t bring much to the table, so the few funny bits end up being non-verbal. However, there are times when Arctic Dogs can’t help itself and throws in jokes related to flatulence and getting hurt in the groin.

The plot eventually becomes a fairly typical action/rescue story, although Woodley does mount fun chase scenes that take advantage of the camera. Once the hour mark is reached, though, it feels like the film should be wrapping up. Arctic Dogs does utilise an all-star celebrity voice cast, which isn’t needed. Few of the actors bring anything to their already thin characters and one wonders why professional voice actors couldn’t have been brought on board to give the film a bit more energy. This isn’t the sort of film that will appeal to the over-12 age group and there probably aren’t many six year olds clamoring to see Jeremy Renner or James Franco’s next role. The one exception is John Cleese, often the bright spot in even mediocre films.

There is some creativity to be found in Arctic Dogs, but they mostly come from the animation and storyboard departments. As entertainment for children, it’s fluff they will likely watch once, enjoy seeing the cute animals and then maybe forget about. While there are better animated movies that could occupy cinema space, this getting a wide theatrical release is hardly an insult. It is visually pleasing, for the most part, and one can see a lot of the work that went into the production. It just needed a stronger story and more compelling characters, but there have definitely been worse and more annoying animated films than Arctic Dogs.

Stefan Ellison

Stefan Ellison