Picks and Pans Review: Eight Below

UPDATED 02/27/2006 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 02/27/2006 at 01:00 AM EST

Paul Walker, Jason Biggs, Bruce Greenwood, Moon Bloodgood
ADVENTURE

For a limited time only at your multiplex, there's a two-for-one sale going on. Eight Below is really two movies in one—each dandy in a rugged way. Both are survival tales involving derring-do and gritty resolve, the first with humans and the second with dogs. What's not to like?

Below begins at an American outpost in Antarctica with an experienced guide (Walker) escorting a scientist (Greenwood) out to the field on a sled pulled by eight huskies and malamutes. When a storm brews and injury strikes, only the men's courage and the dogs' sense of direction can get them back to base. On to the second half: When the humans hurriedly evacuate the base camp via a plane to seek medical care, the dogs are unintentionally left behind. These canny canines must survive for months on their instincts and wits. It's at this point that Below becomes The Incredible Journey, except our animal heroes never journey far, confine their communicating to barks (no human voice-overs for these guys), and there's not a kitty cat in sight.

Walker's puppyish charm complements that of his canine costars, and he looks appropriately brawny in a parka and wind goggles. (Note: There's a scary scene involving a carnivorous leopard seal that may be too intense for children under 8.) (PG)

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