NOSTALGIA LANE MOVIE REVIEW: “Balto” is voiced by Kevin Bacon (Footloose , The Following [TV series]), Bob Hoskins (Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Enemy at the Gates), Bridget Fonda (Jackie Brown, The Godfather: Part III), Jim Cummings (Catdog [TV series], The Hunchback of Notre Dame), Phil Collins (Hook, Buster), Juliette Brewer (Vegas Vacation, The Little Rascals ), and Miriam Margolyes (Babe, Romeo + Juliet). It is directed by Simon Wells (Mars Needs Moms, The Prince of Egypt). Based loosely on a true story, “Balto” follows the half-dog-half-wolf of the same name who goes on a mission to help the children of Nome, Alaska when they fall under the disease called diphtheria. He wants to prove himself a hero because of how he is treated like an outcast and gets his big break when he finds that the sled team that was supposed to retrieve the medicine far away and return it to the town are lost. He must use his good tracking skills to find the sled team and return them and the medicine safely back to Nome.
“Let me tell you something Balto. A dog can not make this journey alone, but maybe a wolf can.” So far in this marathon (it hasn’t been too far), I think “Balto” is the movie that I had the same feelings towards that I did as a much younger child. I do have some questions in my mind as to how I enjoyed this movie so much because it is a very serious one for a kid’s selection, but I do have some inkling in mind as to why, and I’ll explain. One thing that I found terrific in this film, even when I was a toddler, was how different it is. What I would watch when I was younger varied, but I don’t think I ever seen a movie set in Alaska (except one showing of Paul Walker’s “Eight Below”). They pull of the setting rather well, and I enjoyed the overall tone. I’ve taken a notice to color tones in movies recently because they show a lot of emphasis on the emotions or feelings of the certain moment in the plot, and this film never fails. To have most of the area in blues really benefits the scenes that have the warmth of red inside homes. That is actually a symbol in this movie because when the sled mission to retrieve the medicine goes underway, someone keeps a light burning outside of his home for their guidance. Obviously, another thing I loved about it as a kid were some of the characters. I say some because of the comic relief of the polar bears, Muk and Luk (Collins). I still laughed at them now because they have a physical comedy to them with their animation that make them hilarious at times. Sometimes Boris (Hoskins) the goose will have a few good jokes, but it was mainly Muk and Luk that gave the child’s clutch. But other than these, especially with saying that the polar bears are the only thing that kids can find fun, I don’t know why I was into this film. To be honest, that isn’t even a bad thing. This movie is a serious one and not your average goofy kid flick. In fact, it is executive produced by Steven Spielberg himself. That is something that gives this movie major points since more adults can watch it. It provides a daunting task and a lesson that is sure to hit a home run. There isn’t any silliness on this journey, except maybe a couple of spots, giving the viewer something to buckle down and take as a respectable film. The animation is great for being made in 1995, especially by Universal who wasn’t the biggest brand in the animation department at the time. It holds up and definitely gives a lot to the characters. They did a great job portraying the dogs, giving them the charisma and mannerisms of real ones. They even define them apart, like Steele (Cummings), the mean alpha leader who looks like he takes steroids with his kibbles and bits. The voice acting is also good, giving big names that I never expected to be on a project like this. This film just has something about it, besides nostalgia, that makes it worth mentioning to friends as something to think seriously of. It just has a good feel. But, it does have some issues that I didn’t find when watching it long ago. The first would be the use of Muk and Luk. Like I said, they are the comic relief, but I don’t understand why they would even be in existence with this film. They rarely have a part and only have about eight minutes of screen time. I didn’t really get to connect to them, but I guess if they focused on them too much, it would take away from Balto’s (Bacon) story. The next con would be how the beginning is a little slow. It takes a while to set up, but once it does, it speeds along fast. Finally, the last con would be some minor things I don’t understand or nitpick. One that comes to mind is how at one point, Steele fell behind Balto and the herd, but was able to get in front of them and beat him to a destination without you seeing how. Another would include the three sled dogs that always complimented Steele. One of them looked a little goofy and would be the last one to say something. The fact is, when he did, he got hit for it. He never really said anything stupid and it didn’t make much sense to me. Overall this is a fantastic film that I believe adults would appreciate and kids would enjoy an aspect of. I think it holds up very well to how I remember it. FINAL SCORE: 94%=Juicy Popcorn
This movie has been inducted into The Nostalgia Vault.
Here is the trailer: