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Film review: White Fang

"White Fang" is the second screen adaptation of the Jack London adventure, this time more about a young man in search of Alaskan gold than the wolf he befriends in the wilds.

This new Disney version, directed by Randal Kleiser, whose track rec-ord - ranging from "Grease" to "The Blue Lagoon" to "Big Top Pee-wee" - is spotty at best, suffers from abrupt transitions, an overwrought musical score, a lack of focus and underdeveloped characters.

But those weaknesses are easily overcome by the sheer thrust of the story, well scripted by Nick Thiel ("Fire Birds" and the upcoming "Shipwrecked"); the spectacular photography, showing off some of Alaska's most scenic snowbound locales; and credible performances by Ethan Hawke ("Dead Poets Society") as the youthful gold-hunter, and Klaus Maria Brandauer ("The Russia House") as the grizzled veteran who reluctantly helps.

The story has them searching for gold in a stake established by Hawke's late father, eventually coming into possession of "White Fang," a wolf that is part dog. (And yes, the giant grizzly is played by Heber City's Bart, star of "The Bear.")

On the whole, "White Fang" is grand family-oriented adventure on an epic scale, rated PG for violence and some mild profanity.