Story

Eight Below is a movie inspired by true events concerning a team of sled dogs who, due to a set of unfortunate circumstances, are left behind in Antarctica to fend for themselves. The team at the National Science Foundation (NSF) is visited by Dr McLaren (Bruce Greenwood), a scientist who has come to retrieve a meteor, presumed to have come from Mercury. His destination is only accessible by sled, so Jerry (Paul Walker) has to guide him there with his team of loyal husky dogs. The route is a frozen landscape passing over treacherously thin ice. Inevitably, the sled falls through a crack with the doctor in it but Jerry manages to pull him free with ropes. Nearing their destination, Jerry receives a radio call from the base warning them of an approaching severe storm and advising them to return immediately. McLaren is intent on finding the meteor and persuades Jerry to ignore the warning and continue the search which is ultimately successful.

The return journey is fraught with danger as the storm closes in on them. McLaren falls over a cliff while trying to receive a radio signal and falls heavily on the ice below. The ice cracks and he falls into freezing water but is saved by one of the courageous huskies who carries a rope to him. In the process, McLaren breaks a leg. This further hampers the return journey to base camp. Jerry also sustains frostbite, and the whole team at NSF has to be evacuated before the weather gets worse.

Jerry ties up his dogs, promising that he’ll come back for them but the weather makes it impossible for him to fly back. The dogs are therefore left to their own devices for a period of six months. During this time, Jerry agonises at the thought of having to leave them and desperately tries to get back to Antarctica. Meanwhile, all the dogs, except one, manage to free themselves. Their story of survival is quite remarkable.

Themes

Animals in distress

Violence

None of concern

Content that may disturb children

Under 8

There are some scenes that would scare children in this age group:

  • The sled falls through a crack in the ice and Jerry has to pull McLaren out of a crevice with ropes.
  • The doctor falls over a cliff, falls heavily on the ice and breaks a leg. The ice cracks up and he falls into the freezing water.
  • One of the dogs finds a whale carcass and starts to eat, but a leopard seal comes charging out of the inside and attacks the dog. This is quite frightening. The leopard seal then chases the dog under the ice and a fight ensues between the seal and the dogs. The seal bites the ankle of the lead dog who is then badly injured.

There are also some scenes that would distress children in this age group:

  • One of the dogs cannot manage to break free from his chain and dies. Another dog tries unsuccessfully to make it get up.
  • The dogs kill and eat seagulls.
  • A dog falls over a cliff and is injured. The other dogs go down to the dog, lay on top of it but it dies too.
  • One of the dogs gets lost and is on its own for most of the time.
  • When Jerry arrives back, he finds the dead dog still attached to the chain buried in snow. This is quite upsetting.

From 8-13

Some children in this age group could be upset by the scenes described above, particularly images of the dead dogs.

Over 13

Most children in this age group will be OK with this movie, although some could still be upset.

Sexual references

None

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

None

Nudity and sexual activity

None

Product placement

None

Coarse language 

None

Ideas to discuss with your children

The husky and malamute dogs in Eight Below are wonderful and the loyalty and faithfulness of the dogs is quite touching. With stunning scenery and gripping drama, the movie will be quite enjoyable for older children and adults. One of the main messages of the movie is that life sometimes presents hard choices and that making the right decision can be very difficult - something that you could discuss with your children.