Weekend Movie Review: 'The Call Of The Wild,' 'Emma.' And More

This weekend, action adventures, horror thrillers and period pieces dominate the movies coming to theaters near you.

In “The Call of the Wild,” the latest film adaptation of Jack London’s 1903 adventure novel, Harrison Ford stars as an old prospector struggling to cope with the loss of his son. In the process, he encounters a dog named Buck in the wilderness. Over time, the two will share a strong bond of friendship.

Meanwhile, in the period piece “Emma.,” the latest film version of Jane Austen’s literary classic, Anya Taylor-Joy plays the titular matchmaker, a young wealthy woman who loves arranging marriages for everyone but herself.

Finally, those looking for a horror thriller can check out “Brahms: The Boy II,” starring Katie Holmes, Owain Yeoman and Christopher Convery as a family suddenly thrust into a demonic world.

Here’s what to see and what to skip this weekend:

“The Call of the Wild” — Harrison Ford, Karen Gillan; directed by Chris Sanders

Courage and determination abound in Chris Sanders’ live-action directorial debut that is based on Jack London’s 1903 adventure novel of the same title.

At the center of the story is a pampered St. Bernard/Scotch Shepherd pooch named Buck, who, under unforgiving circumstances, ultimately finds the spirit to prevail and become his own master in life.

In the movie, we first meet our hero as the spoiled pet of a local judge (Bradley Whitford). Buck’s life is full of excitement — that is, until out of the blue, he is dog-napped and later sold to a cruel man who beats him up to submission. Then, Buck ends up under the care of a French-Canadian couple (Omar Sy and Cara Gee), who delivers mail via dogsled. Over time, Buck gains confidence, ultimately becoming the leader of the pack of dogs.

However, the mail route is cancelled. Soon, Buck crosses paths with John Thornton (Harrison Ford), a grizzled, old hard-drinking prospector in search of gold in the Yukon. Together, John and Buck join forces in the wilderness.

In the end, Buck learns to trust his own instincts to save the day.

See it. “The Call of the Wild” is worthwhile as a family crowd-pleaser. However, the digital dog in the film looks unrealistic at times.

Watch the trailer:

“Emma.” — Anya Taylor-Joy, Bill Nighy; directed by Autumn de Wilde

Famed music-video director Autumn de Wilde makes her feature directorial debut in “Emma.,” the latest film adaptation of Jane Austen’s beloved comedy about misguided matchmaking in 1800s England.

In this punctuated film version — that is, “Emma” with a period — Anya Taylor-Joy portrays the titular heroine Emma Woodhouse, an affluent, haughty 20-year-old woman who has a penchant for meddling in the romantic lives of people around her. In fact, she is a self-proclaimed matchmaker, ultimately arranging marriages for everyone — but herself.

Is Emma doing it to vent out her romantic frustrations? Or, could it be that the young woman is merely trying to make a bold statement about the limited choices for women of her time?

Regardless, the answer becomes clear, as Emma’s matchmaking journey unfolds. Along the way, the narrative shines a light on her fastidious father, Mr. Woodhouse (Bill Nighy); Emma’s potential love interest, Mr. Knightley (Johnny Flynn); her naïve young friend Harriet (Mia Goth); and the arrogant Frank Churchill (Callum Turner).

See it. Taylor-Joy’s star shines bright, as she confidently embodies an empowered woman. However, the narrative’s pacing and structure are somewhat bland.

Watch the trailer:

“Brahms: The Boy II” — Katie Holmes, Owain Yeoman; directed by William Brent Bell

The original movie, 2016 horror-thriller, “The Boy,” concluded with a big revelation that the titular figurine named Brahms was not possessed by a murderous boy. Rather, he was being protected by a masked adult named Brahms living inside the walls of a spooky old mansion.

Set after the events of the first film, this sequel shows Brahms, the doll, is back— yet again seemingly possessed by an evil soul. However, this time around, our heroes are a family of three. Liza (Katie Holmes) and her young son Jude (Christopher Convery) are victims of home invasion. For a fresh start, Sean (Owain Yeoman), the patriarch of the family, decides for the whole family to get away and stay in the guest house of a manor.

It’s only a matter of time before young Jude discovers the doll buried in the woods and that mysterious events begin happening in their lives.

Skip it. The film does not have enough jolts and scares to keep you on the edge of your seat. By the end, the movie experience just becomes a figment of your imagination.

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