Review: “Togo” wins the race against other Disney+ originals


Courtesy of Disney

Cody Downey

By revealing an interesting and untold true story, “Togo” provides a great narrative epic that makes sure this tale won’t be left out to freeze.

“Togo” follows the story of the titular dog and his musher Leonhard Seppala, played by Willem Dafoe. Set in 1925 Alaska, the pair is sent on a mission to retrieve a serum that will help cure the sick and dying children of Nome. As Seppala sets off, he faces not only the blistering cold of Alaska but also the possibility of losing his beloved dog. If this story sounds familiar, you may remember it from the animated film “Balto,” which follows one of the dogs that helped bring the serum to Nome and received credit for saving the children.

Dafoe provides a great performance in this film that may be one of his best. His character is a very quiet man, and this comes off well in his performance. He only really speaks when spoken to, and it is easy to see that he is more comfortable around his dogs and his wife, played by Julianne Nicholson. Nicholson also puts forth a great performance working as the emotional heart of the film. Through her performance, she provides many of the feelings that Dafoe’s character doesn’t show such as love and pain.

The film is very beautiful, showing both the beauty and deadliness of Alaska. “Togo” is one of many films and shows on Disney+ that are shown in Ultra HD but definitely earns the use of it. You would think it would be hard to make a movie about Willem Dafoe in a sleigh with dogs breathtaking and interesting. But, here, it all works.

“Togo” also benefits from having Ericson Core as cinematographer and director. Core has done the cinematography for a number of films such as “The Fast and the Furious” and 2015’s “Point Break,” which he also directed. This experience shows heavily in this film with the wide variety of angles used. His previous work definitely prepared him for shooting the fast-paced sledding scenes and shows that he doesn’t need cars to shoot beautiful work.

The film also benefits from being provided on Disney+ as opposed to being shown in theaters. “Togo” is definitely a film that was meant for streaming. If it was released in theaters, it is more than likely that no one would go out to see it

However, some problems of the film are the minor characters and the film’s pacing. Throughout the film, many minor characters show up and have interactions with the main characters. For the most part, these characters hold little importance overall. None of their performances were inherently bad or annoying. They just didn’t serve a huge purpose to the plot and were very forgettable.

The film’s pacing was another issue. As Seppala is sledding with his dogs to get the serum, it is intercut with flashbacks of him when Togo was a puppy. Though these scenes do help show the relationship between the two, they ruin the feeling of seriousness. At one moment, the dogs are close to falling off the side of a mountain to their deaths. At the next, Togo is a puppy getting into mischief close to something out of “Marley & Me.” If these scenes were shown chronologically, I feel that they would’ve provided a greater impact later on and shown how Seppala has grown to love and care for Togo.

Despite these complaints, “Togo” is a good movie. Though it may not end up becoming a movie that is watched over and over again, it has a nice story with beautiful scenery and great performances.