Nathan is a film critic and aspiring author with a true passion for the film industry & hopes his writings will help launch his careers.
You know how sometimes you'll post on Facebook that you're at the theater and you're about to see this or that either alone or with a friend? And of course you have to say a little something like "Hope this is good" or "Bring it on" or any other short message declaring how you feel as you await the lights to dim. Well, my post today also had a four-word message: "Well...time to cry". And I did.
A Dog's Way Home follows Bella, a young maybe-maybe-not pit who was raised by her momma dog alongside her sibling puppies and a family of cats under the remains of a torn-down home. When Lucas and friend Olivia discover the animals, Bella is rescued by them and the two vow to return to save the cats. Lucas' efforts anger the owner of the homes who would just as soon kill the cats during construction and has a dog catcher threaten to put Bella down if she's ever seen on the street. Lucas sends Bella to live in New Mexico with Olivia's relatives until he can find a home outside of town. Bella isn't happy, however, and sets off on her own to find Lucas, who is 400 miles away.
Where to even begin? This film was pulling my heartstrings from the start and never quit until the end. The story was beautiful, a true testament to how loyal a dog can be. Bella was rescued by Lucas and was treated like a part of the family. She adored him and she knew she'd always be his dog. Despite everything poor Bella experiences throughout the film, she always reminds herself, "Gotta get home. Lucas needs me." I wish humanity had that much love and that strong of loyalty.
Bryce Dallas Howard voiced Bella, narrating well, for the most part, however there were times in the beginning where it felt like she was speaking to a group of kindergartners. Now, I understand this is a family film and there'll probably be a lot of kids going to see it. But there are also teens and adults that love these movies too. I'm not sure if it was the screenwriters or Bryce, but someone needed to fix those few pieces of dialogue. That is my only gripe, though, and I'm not even going to count it against the film just because how powerful the message is and how emotionally gripping it was. A few lines of dialogue is not a big deal once you look at the big picture.
I was surprised and happy at the same time to see Barry Watson finally grace the big screen again, even though he only had a small role in the film. I feel like I haven't seen him since Boogeyman, although I'm sure I have, I probably just don't remember. Edward James Olmos' character had probably the most emotional story of all the humans in the film, and if you let the moment sink in, the message really slaps you in the face.
I was impressed with the visual work. I think a real baby cougar was used at first but as it got older and bigger, it had to be CGI'd. I imagine it's pretty hard to train a wild cougar to do anything so CGI made all the sense in the world here. It could be a bit obvious at times but mostly it looked amazingly real.
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Last but not least, a big round of applause to the animal trainers and the director. The crew did an incredible job of making the environments feel so alive and also keeping the animals safe throughout the filming process. A lot of love was poured into the film and I could feel it every second.
In conclusion, I loved this spinoff of A Dog's Purpose and I am looking forward to seeing what happens in A Dog's Journey later this year. I give A Dog's Way Home a 4 out of 4.
© 2019 Nathan Jasper