Netflix cannot stop releasing movies to talk about, so we’ve got two this week that happen to revolve around the wildlife. I grew up with old arctic wolf stories like Balto, Call of the Wild and of course, White Fang. There was a 1991 live-action adaptation already, but this 2018 animated re-telling plans on being the definitive version, featuring good old Nick Offerman & Paul Giamatti.
Then, after Thanos has already wiped out drug dealers and intergalactic species, he decides to teach his kid how to erase half the deer in the universe with The Legacy of A Whitetail Deer Hunter.
Let’s not waste any time!
White Fang 2018 (Directed By Alexandre Espigares)
Based on the classic novel by Jack London, White Fang 2018 follows the life of a wolf, given the title name by his old Indian owner, Grey Beaver (voiced by Eddie Spears). He grows up being raised by his mother, before eventually separated and taken care of by Grey. Though, Grey doesn’t stick with him for very long as he’s constantly reminded of the harsh world he’ll have to survive in.
This wolf will cycle through ownership between Grey, a greedy old businessman named Beauty Smith (voiced by Paul Giamatti), and a marshal named Weedon Scott (voiced by Nick Offerman), who is out to arrest Beauty for his illegal dog arena participation. All three of these characters have their own subplots that’ll relate with White Fang, who wishes to find his mother, hoping she’s still alive.
Immediately I will say, this is the true adaptation of Jack London’s book. They not only captured most of the scenes, the art direction of this movie is like an old 1890s painting coming to life in 3D. There are so many gorgeous shots in this movie to be wowed at, and it’s great to know that’s not the only praise to give. Most of the side characters are just as fleshed-out as our lone wolf, giving you different experiences in this time period.
You get to see how the native tribes had to adapt in this world that is mostly conquered by the Americans and how peaceful they are about it. Mostly though, you feel bad for White Fang because of how this poor animal gets pushed around and neglected. Almost none of these owners care about him if it means to surviving. Now, that’s not to say this movie is dark as heck, only there are themes it won’t hold back on showing.
Plus, Beauty Smith is a typical cartoon bad guy that while voiced well, is the owner who isn’t developed at all and by the end, we get that family friendly showdown. Luckily, when White Fang is with Wheedon, his mother, or Grey, the narrative is heart-felt and sweet. Nick Offerman is perfect to being a peacekeeping ranger who wants to have the best life with his wife Maggie (voiced by Rashida Jones). These two have excellent chemistry together and it makes his job as a lawman all the more tense.
Despite some animated movie tropes that at least don’t involve fart jokes, along with some PS3/360-level motion capture on the humans, White Fang placed a sincere smile across my face, with strong voice-work, sweet-centered story-telling that is not afraid to get cruel when it needs to and beautiful art direction. For that hour-and-a-half, you’ll have a “Good” time.
The Legacy Of A Whitetail Dee Hunter (Directed By Jody Hill)
Professional deer hunter Buck Ferguson (played by Josh Brolin) decides that it’s time for his son Jaden (played by Montana Jorden) to learn the ways of a professional deer hunter as a means to spending time with him after getting divorced. So, it’s father, son and best friend/cameraman Don (played by Danny McBride) to go on a trip to the woods for a little bonding and some deer killing.
The best reason to watch this movie is Josh Brolin. He is having so much fun playing this countryman deer killer with a thick southern accent. This man blends himself into the role almost perfectly, which is sad to see when everything around him is uninspired.
First off, Jaden is annoying. You don’t see anything other than a bratty kid trying to be modern and cool. What’s worse, knowing that this is in present day only begs the question “How is Buck still making a living out of selling VHS distributions of his training PSAs?”. I know this is movie world but if you’re really trying to push a heartwarming story, which the movie lacks, it’s hard not to question the obvious.
They are trying to make you feel sorry for Jaden as Buck mentally abuses him for not wanting to take part in deer hunting, but Jaden such a non-character, you end up on Buck’s side even when you shouldn’t. Heck, you can make this movie better if you switched out Jaden for the kid in Woody Woodpecker, so you at least have something that’s so bad it’s entertaining, much like specific points in this movie. You might as well bring Woody himself to the mix because this film is following uncomfortably similar plot points.
Don is just Danny McBride with nothing funny to say, but still attempts. His relationship with Buck is so mixed up that you can’t even tell where it’s going. One point, he;s synthesizing with Buck on his anger, telling Jaden that Buck may be strict, but only because he loves him. Not too long after, Don backtracks at what he was saying earlier to accuse Buck of not loving anyone but himself, and this is supposed to be serious drama.
Though, the last act is hilarious, only because they pulled out a conflict right out of their butt. The timing of which this dumb last act was perfect, like they were just trying to find something intense to end the movie with and it was the pure definition of “forced”. I don’t know how to recommend this one since the structure of the movie is like a direct-to-video family film, but there’s plenty of strong language and sexual humor, mostly out of Danny McBride.
While Josh Brolin is fun to watch and the movie is competently made, supporting the countryside tone, the script and half-baked performances on the other two made this hard to watch when the focus was not 100% on Josh Brolin. I would say maybe The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter could be “Decent” for the few praises I could give, but just couldn’t stand the kid and most of the lazy writing to where I’d rather “Avoid”and find these actors in better movies to watch.