Disney’s impressive lineup of previously released titles. In addition to streaming their favorite Marvel and Star Wars movies, subscribers also have a stack of original content, including new movies. One of the first features to hit Disney + Togo, an inspiring true story that throws light on one of history’s most dangerous animals. And, this is a person they should see if they have the time.
Willem Duffoi starred in Togo as Leonhard Seppala, a man who spends his days working with sled dogs in Alaska. In 1925, as Noam is affected by an epidemic that causes many children to be hospitalized, Leonhard is asked to brave harsh weather conditions to obtain serum for doctors.
With his loyal lead Dog Togo at his side, Leonard sets out to confront the elements, becoming one of the many different Mauser teams participating in the serum run, which, if successful, will save Nome. Limited overtime and Togo’s age is a big question mark, Leonard and his canines have to rely on every ounce of courage to get the job done.
The most valuable asset for Togo is the relationship between his name and Leonhard. The pair dynamically form the film’s emotional core, which is extremely extreme and extremely extreme flashbacks that drag history together (sometimes) before the serum’s exit. These scenes are cleverly spread throughout the film to allow the primary serum run thread (to prevent Togo from becoming monotonous) and the main character to the audience.
Dogs that play Togo on different parts of their lives (especially puppies) are scene-stealers and happy to watch. Dafoe works well with his furry friends, selling Leonhard’s Ark as he becomes closer to Togo. Dafoe is an excellent choice for the role, as he has the range to satisfy a tough love for a playful and energetic puppy, while the latter reflects Leonhard’s more emotional side. The moments between Leonhard and Togo are truly poignant and poignant.
Although Togo is directly in the lead for a streaming service, it still feels like a very cinematic experience. Director Koren (who also served as the film’s cinematographer), exhibits endurance during the brutal situations Leonhard and his team’s serum run.
Due to the way the film was shot, the audience is placed in the middle of the wilderness of Alaska, where every corner is threatened. Many pieces of the set are extremely tense (especially one where the dogs go across the ice) and help Togo play as a survival drama. This is a Disney film, meaning some parts will touch the heart, but thanks to Togo that he never manipulates too much and leads the viewer into his story.
While Dafoe and the dog do a commendable job of carrying Togo on their shoulders, the rest of the cast leaves less impact than comparison. The meatiest supporting role is Constance Sepala (Julian Nicholson), Leonhard’s wife and one of Togo’s earliest supporters, but she doesn’t even have all that much to do.
Other characters such as George Maynard (Christopher Herald), Joe Dexter (Michael Gaston), and Jeffett Lindberg (Jamie McShane) are barely registered and are primarily in the film to populate the city. The main focus in Togo is the serum run (for which Leonhard has spent much time in isolation), but outside of Leonhard, it is not memorable at all, which is disappointing.
Overall, Togo is a solid offering for Disney + and will likely have an easier time when audiences have to go with more traditional theatrical releases. It seems like a film easily lost among the crowd at multiplexes (especially with some titles on the horizon), but people – especially dog lovers – may be inclined to check it out from the comfort of home. And regardless of what kind of viewership Togo gets, it’s a well-thought-out and honorable tribute to the heroes who made headlines and exposed the most valuable members of the serum run.