Picks and Pans Review: Never Cry Wolf

updated 12/12/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/12/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

A government biologist at Project Lupine in the Arctic arrives to study the behavior of wolves in the wilderness. Soon he is alone, sliding around the ice and munching mouse sandwiches to survive. Charles Martin Smith, the nerd of American Graffiti, eventually becomes transformed from fearful scientist to unofficial protector of the wolf pack. As might be expected from cinematographer-turned-director Carroll (The Black Stallion) Ballard, this drama is rife with memorable images: blue mountains at dawn, frozen wastelands punctuated by the sight of a lone man, and Smith running naked with a herd of caribou that is being attacked by his wolf friends. Despite the visuals, the film is uninvolving, perhaps because Ballard, a whiz with the camera, is less skilled at narrative drive. In his debut feature, The Black Stallion, the boy-meets-horse adventure tale compensated. Here he resorts to that desperate device, voice-over narration. Smith can't save him either; he doesn't have the presence to carry a feature. Never Cry Wolf is another attempt by the Disney studio to beef up its image. For both the studio and Ballard, the film is a nice try but a disappointment. (PG)

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