Independent Films, Film Profiles
Eight Below is a 2006 adventure film directed by Frank Marshall and written by David DiGilio, which was released on February 17, 2006, distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, in the United States.It aired on Universal HD on January 30, 2009, being Disney's first film to air on Universal HD.In 1993, Jerry Shepard (Paul Walker) is a guide at an Antarctica research base under contract with the National Science Foundation. UCLA professor, Dr. Davis McClaren (Bruce Greenwood) arrives at the base and presses Shepard to take him to Mount Melbourne to attempt to find a rare meteorite from the planet Mercury. Shepard does so against his own intuition, which tells him that it is too late in the season (January) to complete such a treacherous route. Worried about the snowmobiles breaking through the thinning ice or falling in a crevasse, Shepard tells his boss and McClaren that the only way to get to Mount Melbourne is by dog sled.Shepard and McClaren make it to Mount Melbourne but are immediately called back to base camp due to an approaching storm. McClaren begs for some time, and Shepard gives him half a day. McClaren finds what he was looking for and the two head back to the sled.Shepard pauses to patch up one of the dogs (Old Jack) whose paw is bleeding. McClaren, while walking around to get a better radio connection with base, slides down an embankment when a soft ledge gives way. His landing at the bottom cracks the thin ice and McClaren ends up breaking through. Shepherd is able to get his lead dog Maya to bring a rope to McClaren and the dog team pulls him from the water.Now, battling hypothermia, frostbite and near whiteout conditions, it is the dogs' stamina and keen sense of direction that get Shepard and McClaren back to base. They are immediately evacuated, along with all other personnel, due to the storm, which is expected to intensify. With too much weight in the plane to carry both people and dogs, the human team medically evacuates Shepard and McClaren with a plan to return later for the dogs. The dogs are temporarily left behind, but the storm is worse than expected and it soon becomes apparent that no rescue will be attempted until the next spring.Back at home, Shepard experiences angst about leaving his dogs and stops working as an Antarctic-conditions guide. Five months later, and after a heart-to-heart session with an older, veteran guide, Shepard decides to throw his all into rescuing the dogs. Before leaving for the trip, Shepard patches things up with McClaren, and tells him about his intentions to rescue the dogs. McClaren learns that Shepard does not have enough money to pay for the trip, but tells him that he cannot help him. Soon afterwards, McClaren sees a drawing of the dog team made by his young son, with the title: "My Hero is... THE DOGS WHO SAVED MY DADDY." McClaren realizes the magnitude of his ingratitude and uses the remaining balance of his grant money to finance a rescue mission.Four days after the dogs were left at base camp, they eventually break free of their chains, except for Old Jack, who's too old to go with the others on their journey and dies at base camp. The dogs now begin hunting in order to keep from starving. However, one night whilst looking at the Southern Lights, one of the dogs, Dewey, falls off a steep slope and is fatally injured. The dogs show their affection for their teammate, but eventually have to move on. The youngest dog, Max, stays with Dewey a little longer and is separated from the rest.Max finds his way back to where McClaren fell into the ice earlier and spots a dead Orca. At first, he has a nibble until he realizes that nearby is a leopard seal that fiercely guards its meal. The other dogs also find their way to the dead Orca and Max decides to get the leopard seal's attention so the rest can eat. But the leopard seal quickly sees what's happening, bites Maya in the leg, and nearly kills her. Max and the other dogs fiercely chase him off. Maya manages to survive, but her leg is seriously injured.The dogs manage to find their way close to the base camp where Shepard and his rescue team are arriving. Shepard and the dogs, including a well Maya, have a happy reunion. The final scene shows a grave for Old Jack and Dewey.
Year of Production: 2006
Length: 120 minutes
Country: United States
- Frank Marshall
- Patrick Crowley, David Hoberman
- Paul Walker, Jason Biggs, Bruce Greenwood, Moon Bloodgood