Warner Bros. // 2009 // 101 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 18th, 2010
The adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name brings a lot of CGI snow and Kate Beckinsale in an oversized parka 90% of the time. Hey, who greenlit this thing?
Thanks to the title card in the beginning, we find out Antarctica is cold and awful. The frigid temperatures turn out to be the least deadly aspect of the locale. US Marshal Carrie Stetko (Beckinsale, Underworld), who's been stationed at the worst post of the circuit with little more than a misdemeanor to investigate, discovers a body in the middle of the frozen wastelands and realizes...Holy Crap there's been a murder.
With a humongous storm incoming and the rest of the base camp prepped to bug out, Stetko will be forced to unravel the conspiracy and fend off the murderer. Also, the wind. That's a biting gale, friends.
This definitely feels like an adapted graphic novel, but the harsh truth is Whiteout probably works better on paper. While not an abysmal failure, the whole experience isn't worthy of a feature film presentation. The story isn't compelling enough, the twists are either predictable or underwhelming, and the pace just too slow to qualify as a "thriller."
The setting, though? That's pretty great. The ice-blasted nothingness of Antarctica is a genuine character unto itself, lethal and pervasively ominous. It's almost like a bizarre sci-fi planet, the surreal atmosphere aided by the research installation, which looks like something straight out of Aliens. There are plenty of outdoor scenes, where our heroes square off against the elements or bad guys in the elements, and that stuff pops...if you can get past the obvious computer-generated snow flurries.
Unfortunately, the action is sporadic. Too sporadic. There's a lot of time devoted to "crime-fighting," but the ultimate destination of all this grinding is a big question dangled in front of the audience: the mysterious motivation behind the bad guys' violence. The revelation is anticlimactic. There's also an attempt at shrouding the identity of one of the major villains, complete with a red herring or two. But a moderate amount of thought will unravel the enigma. That revelation is anticlimactic, too.
Whiteout may be mediocre, but the Blu-ray Warner Bros. coughed up is solid. The 1.78:1 1080p widescreen is up to snuff, boasting strong detailing and some legitimately impressive fly-by shots of the ice, but the picture quality undercuts the CGI weather effects. Great sound work, headlined by a clean Dolby TrueHD 5.1 that has lots to do during the action but not too much otherwise. A lean amount of extras accompany: decent high-def featurettes about the making-of ("The Coldest Thriller Ever") and the translation from graphic novel to film ("Whiteout: From Page to Screen"), plus a couple of unimpressive deleted scenes.
A mediocre thriller meets a good Blu-ray and...((yawn)).
Guilty. Maybe I can borrow some of that whiteout for the last 100 minutes of
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 101 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes