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Fox Home Entertainment presents
"If we stay here, we're going to starve."
DVD ReviewFar From Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog tells the story of a boy lost in the wilderness with his beloved pet, trying to find a way home, while his parents frantically search for their lost child. As his final film, Canadian film maker Phillip Borsos wrote and directed this family feature, set against the stunning scenery of British Columbia's coastline and rain forests.
Fourteen-year-old Angus McCormick (Jesse Bradford) lives with his family on the west coast of Vancouver Island. While he and his father (Bruce Davison) are delivering supplies to the various local islands and coastal communities, their boat capsizes in rough seas. His father is rescued, but Angus and his newly-adopted golden Lab, Yellow, are lost, escaping in the boy's home-built dingy. They wash ashore in an unknown location, with only the few supplies Angus had stowed away for camping to rely on. With thousands of square miles to search, efforts by the Coast Guard to locate the missing boy prove unsuccessful, but his parents are unwilling to give up the search. As the days pass by food begins to dwindle, so Angus decides to abandon the shelter he had established, and sets off with Yellow on a perilous journey through the wilderness to find their way home. With no maps of compass to guide them, only his survival skills can keep them alive, as the hunt by his family continues.
There is a fine line that the wilderness or animal adventure film has to walk in order to be fully affective for all ages. More often than not, they rely far too heavy on the dramatic elements in order to play on the emotions, to the point of being excessive, or are targeted at younger audiences by being too cute. With so many films in the genre, there is also a tendency to see similar situations playing out over and over again. Far From Home falls somewhere in the middle ground, but anyone who grew up with this type of adventure film will have a feeling of déjà vu throughout.
The script suffers from a number of the pitfalls seen in similar films, using unnecessary, contrived situations to add drama to the story, such as the confrontation with a wolf pack, another with a bobcat, and the inevitable perils of a log bridge. It also undermines the lead character's survival skills on several occasions—his father has taught him to live in the wild, yet he ignores the fundamental rule when one is lost by changing locations. He also comes across an entire deer kill, yet in the next scene is panging with hunger from lack of available food. Pacing is an issue, lingering too long in some spots while rushing in the next, and the overall flow of the film felt a little too compartmentalized and unnatural. The score plays a bit too heavy at times, attempting to make up for some poor choices in the dramatic development. None of these criticisms are fatal, but adult viewers may find them less than satisfying.
Although it has its flaws, the film does succeed on a number of levels. Except for a couple of instances, excess sentimentality is kept under control. The acting is well done from the entire cast, believable without going overboard, and the bond between both the family and son, and the boy and his dog is palpable. The locations are exquisite, with cinematographer James Gardner employing copious aerial shots and panoramas, enhancing the atmosphere of the rugged coastal wilderness and seascapes. The story, while predictable and often clichéd, still works on an emotional level, and has a happy ending. I'd rate this as above average for the genre, and an enjoyable family watch, but its PG rating is appropriate for a few of the more dramatic scenes.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B
Image Transfer Review: Far From Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog is presented in both its original widescreen version, enhanced for 16x9 displays, with a pan-and-scanned version on the flip side of the disc. The widescreen image looks excellent for the most part. Color, including the rich, irridescent greens of the British Columbia rainforests come across nicely saturated, with good contrast. Grain is naturally rendered, detail solid, and the look is filmlike, except for some infrequent shimmering. With dense scenery often suffering on DVD, it was nice to see that there are only minor and occasional compression artifacts, with the overall presentation of the outdoors very good.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: Stereo surround English audio is well presented, with decent depth and imaging. Dialogue is clear and easy to discern. The score and sound effects fill out the soundfield nicely. The Spanish surround and French stereo tracks are similar in quality, with no apparent technical shortcomings.
Audio Transfer Grade: A-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Bushwhacked and Lucas
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Extras Review: There are no extras other than a theatrical trailer and those for Bushwhacked and Lucas.
Extras Grade: D
Final CommentsFar From Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog makes for a good family movie. There is plenty of action, the scenery is spectacular, and the story able to hold the viewer's interest. Sure, it is fairly clichéd, and the ending isn't much of a surprise, but the presentation and performances make it a worthy viewing experience.
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