Michael Sauter
June 14, 1991 AT 04:00 AM EDT

White Fang

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG
runtime
107 minutes
performer
Klaus Maria Brandauer, Ethan Hawke, Randal Kleiser, Seymour Cassel, William Moseley, James Remar
director
Randal Kleiser
distributor
Buena Vista Pictures, Walt Disney Home Video
genre
ActionAdventure, Drama

We gave it a B+

Visually impressive even on video, White Fang uses Alaska’s very great outdoors to tell the feel-good story of a boy and his wolf. It’s based on Jack London’s novel, but tamed for family viewing: Though the characters include hungry wolves, a ferocious grizzly, and some low-down claim jumpers, director Randal Kleiser manages to spin his tale without spilling a drop of blood.

The movie is best early on, when the odyssey of an orphaned wolf cub intercuts with the adventures of a young prospector (Ethan Hawke). Filmed in pristine, wordless images reminiscent of The Bear, the wolf’s tale is the more compelling; the boy’s story, meanwhile, follows territory that seems a tad too familiar. Once boy and wolf unite, White Fang gets downright conventional, ending up as mainstream as a Lassie movie. Yet with true family films in such short supply, this one’s wholesomeness actually makes it special. Families seeking a video adventure to share together during the summer vacation season should surely welcome White Fang. B+

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