starring Paul Walker, Bruce Greenwood, Moon Bloodgood, Jason Biggs
screenplay by David DeGilio
directed by Frank Marshall
by Walter Chaw There are situations and statements, questions and propositions, that are so stupid by their nature that they actually approach Zen. And then there's Frank Marshall's arctic dogs-and-dude melodrama Eight Below, which plays for all the world like not only the world's most unwelcome sequel (to Snow Dogs), but also a companion piece to March of the Penguins. It is, in simplest terms, a pandering blight--a straight line (nay, flatline) from unsurprising set-up to unsurprising resolution, every bit the equivalent of a line of footprints in the snow between two known points. Opening with one of film history's most wooden leading men, Paul Walker, and "nice Jewish boy" comic relief Jason Biggs sitting in a hundred-degree steam room before running out into a 30-below autumn day in Antarctica, Eight Below immediately teaches us that human beings heated to a toasty 110 degrees do not steam when exposed to sub-zero temperatures and, more, that if you should ever visit the South Pole, your breath will never, ever show. It's full of fun facts like that, but it saves its most fascinating revelations for the intricacies of canine interactions, including their complex gift-giving behaviours, advanced speech, abstract philosophical concepts, and eerie ability to go for at least fifteen days at a time without food or water. It even wrests an explanation from the universal loam as to what Walker was put on this earth for: to be upstaged by eight dogs, someone named Moon Bloodgood, Jason Biggs, and miles of white. It goes without saying that those scenes Walker plays against Bruce Greenwood have the queasy, guilty fascination of a baby seal getting mauled by a polar bear.