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Movie Review

Eight Below

MPAA Rating: PG-Rating (MPAA) for some peril and brief mild language

Reviewed by: Debra Mireles

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Family
Adventure Drama
1 hr. 52 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
February 17, 2006 (wide)
Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures
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Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation. Fun for the whole family with games, activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, color pages, and more! One of the Web’s first and most popular Christian Web sites for children. Nonprofit, evangelical, nondenominational.
Featuring: Paul Walker, Jason Biggs, Bruce Greenwood, Moon Bloodgood
Director: Frank Marshall
Producer: David Hoberman, Patrick Crowley, Todd Lieberman
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures

“The Most Amazing Story of Survival, Friendship, and Adventure Ever Told.”

Copyrighted, Walt Disney Pictures

The story starts in the extreme wilderness of Antarctica where we meet Jerry Shepard (Paul Walker) and his best friend Cooper (Jason Biggs). Jerry works as a survival guide along with his beloved team of sled dogs. The dogs are very important to Jerry, and his relationship with them in the movie is one of true friendship. An American geologist named Davis (Bruce Greenwood) requires Jerry’s guide services on a scientific research mission. During the mission, the sled dogs are heroes—helping Davis survive the rough Antarctic terrain.

Due to a serious storm that blows in, Jerry and Davis are forced to end their mission early and return to base. The team is forced to leave the sled dogs behind and evacuate, promising they will return for them as soon as they can.

But as the worst storm in years approaches, cutting off all means of transportation, the dogs are stranded until spring. Even his love interest, Katie (Moon Bloodgood), who is a pilot, cannot fly in the harsh weather. These courageous and intelligent dogs must survive in the harshest winter climates known to man. Jerry is heartbroken and desperately tries to persuade rescue missions to take him back to his beloved dogs, but six months will pass before he is back in Antarctica again. Based on an amazing true story, you will find loyalty, friendship and hope as major elements in this film.

CONTENT OF POSSIBLE CONCERN: The movie begins with the two friends wearing only shorts and no shirts as they prepare to run out into the cold. The swear word “hell” is used four times in the movie. There is a scene where Jerry is drinking a beer and Davis is drinking scotch. In a bar scene, the waitress tells Jerry a lady has bought him a drink. The violence in this film is mild, but there is a scene where a leopard seal surprisingly attacks the dogs, and it would probably be scary for small children. Also, the dangerous rescues are pretty intense. At the very end of the movie, Jerry gives Katie a very passionate kiss.

CONCLUSION: “Eight Below” is very mild and not as offensive as many other movies. Overall, this is a good movie that you and your family can enjoy on the big screen. I loved the beautiful scenery, including gorgeous snow formations along the mountains. I love animals, and the scenes of the stranded dogs were done very well. Action and suspense are found throughout the movie and kept me and my family on the edge of our seats.

I don’t recommend “Eight Below” for younger children (under 5, or according to their maturity levels), due to the surprise leopard seal attack scene and a couple of other scary rescue scenes. However, my oldest children ages eight and nine enjoyed the movie.

Violence: Mild / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Minor

Thinking about spiritual issues…

  • The swear word h*ll is used four times throughout the movie. God’s word mentions “cursing” and “swearing” done by those who were disobedient to God and living in sin (Jeremiah 23:10, Hosea 4:2, Proverbs 19:1) As Christians we are not to let any unwholesome talk proceed from our mouths, but only that which can edify others and glorify God (Ephesians 4:29).

  • We are warned time and time again against strong drink from the scriptures (Judges 13:4, Proverbs 20:1, Ephesians 5:17-18). Drinking is shown in this movie, but they do not finish the drink before the scene changes.

  • At the end of the movie, Jerry and Katie share a passionate kiss. In God’s word we are told that men and women who are not married should abstain from inappropriate behavior. Man is commanded not to touch a woman if she is not his wife, but to treat all women as his sister (1 Corinthians 7:1-2, 1 Timothy 5:1-2). Tempting ourselves with inappropriate kissing or touching can lead to fornication according to the Apostle Paul and should not be done. This may be a good opportunity to discuss this topic with your kids.

  • Jerry is heart broken, and because he has no faith in Christ, he has no hope or strength that God can help him through this time. Jerry is depressed and feels guilty about leaving the dogs behind. God’s word tells us that through prayer and His grace we can have hope that God will act according to his will (Hebrews 4:16).

Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive—Very nice family film. Would not recommend it to young preschoolers (think “Old Yeller”, “Bambi”, “Lion King”, etc). My little boy started to cry, so if you have really young children (who are sensitive) wait till the DVD so you can explain. But overall, the children and parents will love the DOGS! They are truly amazing!

One scary scene with the Leopard Seal, and one kissing scene at end, but not offensive. Did not find or frankly remember any objectionable language. Enjoyed it and with my husband, we are going to by the DVD. So we can sit down with our son again and watch it!—and explain to him some of the questions he has.
My Ratings: Good / 4
Marcela Montes-Lobos, age 36
Positive—I took my 4 and 3 year old to this movie and they absolutely loved the dogs and everything about it! It kept their attention the whole time! My daughter is usually sensitive to scary things (like the leopard seals), but she wasn’t even phased during that scene! I personally LOVED this movie and will definitely buy it when it comes out on DVD! It is SO wonderful to be able to go to the theater and view a movie with your family that has so much love and heart without all the other “misguided opinions” of the world today! This is not a biblically-based movie, but it is a wonderfully moral movie for everyone in your family! Take your family to see it; you won’t be disappointed!
My Ratings: Good / 5
April Campbell, age 23
Positive—My younger son and I really enjoyed this film. Disney got this one right. It has incredible scenery, the dogs are real stars, and there was nothing that struck me as offensive. As others have noted, there is some sadness (reality) with the dogs and a scary scene with a Leopard seal but it was a great movie. My son enjoyed it so much, that night he slept with all his dogs (stuffed, of course) in bed with him. Can’t wait for the DVD.
My Ratings: Good / 4
Bob McGraw, age 48
Positive—Not expecting much, I was surprised at how this movie pulled me in. Before I knew it, an hour of the movie had passed. It is well made and laid out in a way that our 9-year-old followed the story line. The story is heart-warming, and the actors did a nice job. The dogs are beautiful and acted without words. My two daughters understood what was happening when Maya was positioning the dogs around the seagulls, and later when Maya placed the seagull at Max’s feet.

At a little over two hours, there are a few spots in the middle that the story slowed down for me. But the younger members in the theater were glued to the screen. Overall, this is a clean movie. No nudity. No sex other than a kiss at the end of the movie (which the dog interrupted). I observed no bad language other than an unnecessary What the h*** in a bar scene. There are two scenes that involve alcohol one at a fancy reception and one in a New Zealand bar. There were a few computer generated elements in the film that were evident to adults.

There are many themes, with underlying Biblical tie-ins, in the movie: loyalty and friendship; the importance humans have in taking care of animals; losing a loved one, whether a person or a pet; dedication to a cause in the face of insurmountable odds; hard work pays off; patience; relying on others to share your burdens; hope; and that relationships, both human and animal, can bring joy to life.
My Ratings: Good / 5
Jeff Mc, age 46
Positive—Delightful movie—spectacular arctic scenery, very moving story. No objectionable language or other material. A couple scary moments for very small children, but overall a great family movie. We thoroughly enjoyed it.
My Ratings: Good / 4
Brian Carrier, age 56
Positive—I took my four girls, (13, 11, 8, 6), and they all thoroughly enjoyed it. The one scary part was not traumatic-scary—just surprising. I though this movie was very good. The scenery was incredible. I liked the way they could not leave a fallen comrade behind. Teamwork and obeying authority was also stressed. Worth it to go see in the theater.
My Ratings: Good / 4
Marianne Sicilia, age 43
Positive—Took my boys to see this movie, and I was very pleased, every one of us enjoyed this movie. There wasn’t one really objectionable scene. I think H*ll may have been said under someone’s breath in one scene. The leopard seal scene was a bit intense for my six year old. For some reason he found this scene very scary; the boy can sit and watch Godzilla movies and all sorts of creature features, but this leopard seal scene was too much for him and he buried his head in my shoulder, go figure. But the seal was rather scary, and it put a dog in jeopardy, so just keep that in mind for younger, sensitive viewers.

I would recommend this movie for the entire family (with perhaps the exclusion of toddlers or sensitive children). Someone mentioned this before, but I will say it again; this film was beautifully made as well and worth seeing on the the big screen.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
Lynai Torabpour, age 41
Positive—We took our 6 ½ and 8 year old to this movie. The movie was great. The dogs were amazing, and the story was really good. HOWEVER, a few of the scenes were way to scary for my kiddos. Both my kids cried uncontrollably at two or three points. It is quite a tear jerker. My eight year old son had nightmares that night about our dog being attacked by sea lions. As an adult it was very hard to watch the dogs go through what they did. It is a really great family movie, but not if you have kiddos that are sensitive to animals being injured or attacked. I would recommend it to all my friends, but tell them in detail the scenes to prepare the kids for. Great movie! Enjoy but it is not for little ones.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
Suzanne, age 36
Positive—This is a really good movie, however, it is not your funny “feel good” movie. There are some really intense scenes, so you might want to check it out for little kids.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
Wesley, age 42
Positive—This was a great film! …Went with my older and younger sis. We loved it. I was afraid it would be a bit cheezy (it is a Disney movie). But they did very well with keeping it real.
My Ratings: Good / 5
Verna, age 19
Positive—I found this movie suspenseful and thought-provoking. We ordinarily don’t think about the hardship and dangers that certain people go through in their unusual walks of life. The dogs were beautiful, and the story interesting and touching. No, it was not told from a Christian point of view, but it had a lot of heart, as the world would say, and it was a nice relief from films that are full of negativity and immorality. Highly recommended for all ages but the youngest.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
Positive—This film is a fantastic piece of work. For centuries, mankind has been blessed with the presence and friendship of the most loyal, four-legged companion, the dog. There are hundreds of stories of dogs who show their true nature with amazing acts of love, bravery, courage, grit, and strength. This film has definitely captured the loving nature as well as the wild animal instinct of dogs.

It is an inspiration to see such dogs show unconditional love. Their sense of family is something even the “dog-haters” cannot deny. Dogs take care of each other; something that many people today can take a lesson from.
My Ratings: Good / 3
Troy Mendez, age 31
Positive—This movie was very entertaining, and nothing in it was offensive. I would not bring young or sensitive children to it because of the death of a favorite dog and also one instance of a startling loud noise that would frighten a young child.
My Ratings: Good / 1
Bonnie Bryant, age 54
Positive—Awesome movie!! Gorgeous scenic views, and a great story of a young man and his strong relationship with his team of sled dogs. I took my 3 children and everybody loved this movie. I would recommend this movie for anybody older than 7 or 8.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
Scott, age 47
Positive—This film was incredibly fantastic! Very well done directing, and the dogs were marvelous! You really should see this movie, but if you have kids that are real sensitive I would recommend another movie. The term 'what the h*ll is used and drinking, but very little of it. It will show your kids the meaning of survival and wilderness and will boost there spirits because the dogs had faith and 6 out of 8 survived! A real jaw dropper.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
Joey, age 32
Positive—…it was more heart stirring than I anticipated. The main character did an excellent job with his character and relationship to the dogs. His love for his “kids” was extremely believable. The scenery was so desolate and beautiful. The camaraderie was very inspiring and something to be desired. My only complaint in the entire film was the scene where the leopard seal lunges out of the stomach of the beached whale. I was not prepared for the intensity of that scene. Fortunately, we were in a theater that had no one there but my family, because we all screamed and both children were terrified. Age 8 and 7. It took a few quick minutes to settle them both down. We usually try to eliminate violence in any form from what we view, so that may have had something to do with our reaction. But overall it was a very good movie.
My Ratings: Good / 5
Judith Froehlich, age 64
Positive—If you love dogs you will love this movie. While I didn’t think the movie making quality was all that great, I loved the drama. It’s appropriately rated at PG, but I wish they could have seen their way to leave all profanity out of it.
My Ratings: Good / 2
Joe, age 57
Neutral—My husband and I took our 5 year old daughter to see this movie after reading a few reviews, including those on this site. We talked with her about the fact that a few dogs would die and the dogs may have to eat a bird or two. We were in no way prepared for the incredibly scary scene of the leopard seal jumping out of the decayed body of a dead whale. My daughter who’s not overly sensitive, screamed, cried, and was almost inconsolable. She and I left the movie at that point, where she continued to cry in the lobby. That scene is too much for young children. The overall movie is very well done, just be warned of the leopard seal!
My Ratings: Good / 1
Kim Hendrix, age 43
Comments from young people
Positive—This movie was great! I’m going to buy this movie when it comes out. It has a very good story line. Though there were a couple cuss words and a scary scene, it didn’t ruin the movie. The actors performed great and so did the dogs. It has a good ending. They had every little detail which I liked and was very realistic. I suggest 7 and over see this movie. I think it was altogether a great film that the whole family will love.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
Maureen, age 10
Positive—I enjoyed this film!! I thought the dog’s acted well. It was a little sad, but I knew the animals were just acting and did not really die. It looked so freezing that I got cold just looking at the dogs!! There is one part with the leopard seal that might be too scary for little kids, so I think it would be good for kids 7 and up. It is a movie I might like to see again, and maybe rent it when it comes out on DVD.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 4
Miriam Rogan, age 11
Positive—I loved this movie! Though it dragged a bit in some parts, there were quite a few fast-paced sequences that kept your attention, and I was constantly interested in both the dogs' and the humans' stories as the film progressed. It was even a bit educational. There were a handful of mild profanities (several of which were muffled) and a few very tense parts. A young girl (10 or so) literally screamed at the top of her lungs at one jump scene. Other than that, the film is incredible with the exception of usually excellent, but occasionally weak acting. Everyone I went with liked it. Worth seeing!
My Ratings: Good / 4
Geno, age 15
Positive—This was a good movie. I was scared by the leopard seal. All the dogs were really cute, and I really liked the end of the movie when the dog kissed that man’s face. All the dogs were best friends and worked together to help each other. I was sad when some of the dogs had died, but I was happy when the dogs were saved. Six of the dogs got to go home.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 3
Argentina Mendez, age 8
Positive—This movie is so awesome! You should see it! It’s full of fun and scary perilous action! Very wonderful and cool movie. …It’s excellent! It’s very very fun!
My Ratings: Better than Average / 5
Forest Feltrop, age 13
Positive—Great movie! I cried so much in it. I love dogs really much and can’t bear to see them die so harshly. But it was a good movie. No language, nudity, or nothing like that! Go see it at the big screens! You will enjoy the dogs, and the leopard seals as much as I did!
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
Micah, age 12
Positive—I went to see this movie with my youth group and pastor, and was not disappointed. The dogs were quite amazing, and had quite charismatic personalities. Although the movie did drag in some parts, it was fun to watch the younger children in front of us “ooo and ahhh” over what the dogs could manage. …Overall, excellent movie. Great for the whole family, I believe that you will enjoy watching your kids watch it.
My Ratings: Good / 4
Cara, age 16
Positive—Wow, this movie was fantastic. It has such a great, entertaining, story line that keeps everybody watching. I went to see this movie because I love dogs and I found that you don’t have to be a dog lover to see this and think it was really good. There was also good acting. They could have done with out the curse words though, but they only used a word twice. One time somebody said God’s name in vain, and there was a part with the leopard seal that made only me jump, but adults, too. So I would say 8 and over would be alright seeing this movie. Wait until it comes out on dvd for anybody younger to watch it. Also, there was one part that made a little kid cry because I guess it was quite scary for him. But overall, two thumbs up.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
Carolyn, age 12
Positive—I absolutely loved this movie! My dad and I went to see this movie together and were blown away. Although there were some H…'s used in sentences and Oh my G**'s …This was a very clean movie and definitely a family friendly movie. The story is amazing (based on a true story), and I definitely recommend this movie to anyone. We will definitely add this to our DVD collection.
My Ratings: Good / 4
Emily, age 16
Positive—The movie was amazing! It was an awesome movie, which I think everyone should see! It was definitely worth the money. I would only caution young children maybe about 7 and under. There was mostly just one part that would scare younger children. When you see a dead killer whale, cover your child’s eyes, because a sea lion jumps out and was quite frightening. This movie is definitely one of the best I have seen for a long while!!
My Ratings: Good / 4
hope, age 16