Sunday, 15 January 2012

The Corner - Week 7 - Heather Reviews Balto: Wolf Quest


Awooooooo-nderful film? Perhaps not...



I suppose I have some explaining to do, on this one. One of the reasons I bought this film was because wolves are my favourite animals. Admittedly, I was not searching for this film when I got it; I was looking for ‘Alpha and Omega’ which is, by the way, a pretty darn cool film-watch it if you get the chance. When Alpha and Omega was not available, and after much cursing under my breath, I spotted this film, wedged under a pile of Polar Express-es and Nanny McPhee-s. It didn’t look as good as A&O, didn’t sound as good and I was certain it wouldn’t please me as much. However, I was craving a wolf-orientated film, and so I made an impulsive £6 purchase.

A brief synopsis: Aleu is part-wolf, part-dog, and the only one of her litter who looks more wolf-like than pet material. Of course, what ensues is her quest to find out who she really is- old-school stuff, to be honest. As the blurb of the DVD says, it has the right ingredients to become a “spectacular, heart-warming adventure of courage, self-discovery and excitement that will live in [your] hearts forever”. However, like a cake-gone-wrong, to stick to the cake-baking theme, something goes wrong.

The characters are loveable, and established well. Aleu particularly struck a nerve for me: a young person rarely knows what’s going to happen in the future, and as a wolf, she seems to feel the same things I feel every day. For all the parents, Balto feels anguish and worry that’s almost palpable, and displays all the reluctance to let his daughter go that any father or mother would feel. The characters are one of the things that save this film from going down the drain it teetering over the edge of.

Produced by Universal Studios, I couldn’t possibly be expecting something as beautiful as Despicable Me (2010) because that’s too recent. Balto was released in 2001. Shoddy animation, especially when the sea is shown- they alternate between decent-looking-waves and absolutely rubbish excuses for waves. Seriously, I was appalled. But I soon got over that, because the wolves were so pretty. Yeah, pretty. Leave me be. I happen to know everyone has a weakness: WILLIAM’S IS PENGUINS, but shhh.

Having indirectly slated this film, it must have done something right, because there are three films: Balto, Balto II: Wolf Quest (2002) and Balto III: Wings of Change (2004). I have half a mind to watch the other two, not just for my love of wolves, but because in spite of how cheesy and badly put-together it is, there is something about the storyline that does capture the attention. Something that does appeal to that youthful side of me… I know that they say curiosity killed the cat, but… I want to compare the three movies!

If you're a sucker for all that gooey heart-warming stuff, go for it. Watch it, and try to ignore how bad the animation and picture actually is - I managed to after a while. It's relatively short, so there isn't too long to endure. If you're not all for animal-happy-happy-fun-time then never watch this- it may be the end for you.

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