Balto is a 1995 American animated epic drama adventure film directed by Simon Wells, produced by Amblin Entertainment and distributed by Universal Pictures. The film is loosely based on a true story about the dog of the same name who helped save children from the diphtheria epidemic in the 1925 Nome serum run.


Nome, Alaska, 1925. A diphtheria epidemic is sweeping through the town, and 18 people have already fallen ill. A young girl, who is the owner of Jenna (a dog that Balto has a crush on), gets sick and is slowly dying. The town's doctor sends for more diphtheria antitoxin, which Nome is out of. A dog team is sent to Nenana to pick up the antitoxin, but on the way back, there is an accident, and the musher is knocked out. When the team doesn't arrive, Balto goes to help them out. However, he is bullied by Steele, his rival, who tries to prevent Balto from reaching Nome so that he can take the glory for himself. Balto ends up leading the team, and on the way back, has an accident, but proves himself by bringing the antitoxin safely to Nome and becomes a hero. Steele, on the other hand, is shunned by the other dogs after they find out about his evil deeds.

Why It Rocks

  1. The animation is great.
  2. Though loosely based on a true event, it teaches really well to many children about real history.
  3. Despite having a predictable plot, the movie makes it fun to watch as Balto comes across multiple obstacles to reach his goal.
  4. Likable characters including Balto, Jenna, Boris and Star.
  5. Steele is an incredibly nasty villain who you will love to hate.
  6. Excellent emotional scenes, an example being Balto realizing that the children are going to die when he sees a row of small coffins.
  7. Beautiful music from the late James Horner who also composed for James Cameron's Titanic and Avatar.
  8. The romance between Balto and Jenna was handled well.

Bad Qualities

  1. It's surprisingly dark for a family movie. For example, Steele deliberately sabotages Balto's trail so that Balto will get lost and the sick children will die.
  2. It was a box office bomb, since it was overshadowed by Disney-Pixar's Toy Story in theaters. Due to its lackluster performance with critics and box office, the film unfortunately led to Amblimation's closure.
  3. The movies has a bunch of characters, but most of them didn't have much purpose or did anything.
  4. Although based on a true story, the film took some liberties with the source material.


Box office

The film opened up at #15 on its opening weekend with a domestic gross of $1,519,755. It later grossed $11,348,324. The foreign box office information is unavailable. Despite not being successful at the box office, the film was successful on video sales.

Critical response

Roger Ebert gave the film a positive review, describing the film as "a kids' movie, simply told, with lots of excitement and characters you can care about" and gave the film 3 out of 4 stars.


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