Eight Below

Eight Below

Rated 3.0

Way back in the mid-'50s, a trio of Japanese explorers cruised down to Antarctica for a dogsled trek across Ongul Island to a remote mount and back. All went well, but on the return route they encountered some seriously bad weather and were unable to reach home base. Desperate, they unleashed a couple of their huskies from the team to return to the base and bring back a rescue team. Which they did. Unfortunately (for the dogs), when said team arrived it was determined that the storm was too severe and somewhere along the line it was decided that the dogs would be left behind to fend for themselves at the abandoned ice station.

When the ungracious Japanese returned a year later, two of the dogs (ironically enough, the same two dogs set loose to rescue their sorry asses) remained alive to greet the return.

The stuff legends are built on, director Koreyoshi Kurahara weighed in on the matter in 1983s Nankyoku Monogatari (Tale of Antarctica). With leftover huskies from Snow Dogs, Disney finally cashes in on the material. And since the Mouse Factory has determined that we Yankees are incapable of emphasizing with Japanese characters, here we’re given lunk Paul Walker and dork Jason Biggs as protagonists. Sorta. Here, the dogs seriously out act their human costars.

Pretty much the same terrain is covered here, but with more than a little influence reflected in the success of last year’s surprise indie Cinderella story, March of the Penguins. But overall, a solid piece of entertainment from the Mouse Factory, while maintaining the inherent template that the kiddie-film pro’s built their success on (preying on the ingrained separation anxiety of youngsters).