When first watching TOGO, the new original movie on Disney +, 30 minutes in, I was like, “what the fuck this is just a rip off of Balto.” And that’s because I didn’t watch one trailer for this film, or research it at all, just heard that it was Disney +’s next original movie that happened to star a great actor, Willem Dafoe, so I just hit play. Turns out, Balto is just the dog that gets way too much credit for 1925 serum run, where diphtheria antitoxin was transported to Achorage, Alaska to very sick children during a giant fucking storm. Togo, at 12 years old, is the one that ran the most miles like a motherfucker to save all those innocents. The owner just didn’t really care much about credit, he cared about the dog’s well being. As for the film itself, it’s not bad, it’s just a more dramatic, no animation at all live action version of….well, Balto. But since Balto was originally distributed by Universal Pictures, you can’t point the finger at Disney this time and say this was simply a mere live-action remake cash grab. There is a more deeper point to this film than just the main dog getting the serum to the sick children. This is a personal story of owner and dog.
And it’s a good story, because we learn that Togo wasn’t always obedient, and the owner didn’t think much of him at first. The film switches from present day (starting with the news of a storm coming and the sick children to going out to save them in the storm), to 12 years earlier, when Togo was a pup. Eventually owner and Togo share more positive experiences with each other and he learned to respect and love the dog. What I appreciated most about this film, is that the film used REAL DOGS, REAL LOCATIONS that did REAL STUNTS/MOVEMENT, and everything about it felt authentic, even when the film obviously switches gears having to use a green screen CGI studio to film the parts with the real dogs running across a frozen lake, with the ice breaking apart and melting. They could’ve went full CGI with the dogs too, but they didn’t, somehow it completely comes together and works. Thankfully the movie doesn’t just focus on just getting the serum to the children, because we saw that with Balto, this focuses on the relationship between Togo, the owner and his wife, and it is quite moving.
Especially because it used a real dog. I keep going on about the real dog thing but have you seen the trailer for the new The Call Of The Wild film with Harrison Ford? Looks awful because it is a completely CGI rendered dog, not even a real dog with a CGI face that they used in the new live action Lady in the Tramp. It looks terrible. Are you meaning to tell me they couldn’t have gotten a real dog to do scenes with Harrison Ford? They got real dogs for the entirety of this thing and managed to not piss off PETA. Whatever, I’m not seeing that horrific CGI ridden trash. I learned my lesson from the new Cats (2019) film (review on that later. Anyway, you can’t go wrong with Togo on Disney +. It’s a pretty solid movie with a solid performance by Willem Dafoe but an even more solid performance by the dogs that played Togo. My only complaint would be, and I checked on my phone to make sure it wasn’t just my television, but a weird sheen to the film with this semi dark like substance on the all sides of the wide screen bar. I don’t know what that was about but it was a tad distracting. Let me know if you see it to. All I have left to say is well done Disney, you managed to sort of make a live action remake without it really being a live action remake. Do that and stop with this Aladdin, Lion King, and Dumbo nonsense. You’ve still got a little magic that can get to people’s hearts, and Togo is that proof.