Although not as bad as I had imagined going in, Whiteout sadly just isn’t a special suspense-thriller. Indeed it does have a good moment or two but with a story that doesn’t exude feature film quality.
— Special Edition —
Warner Bros. | R – 101 min. – $35.99 | January 19, 2010
Date Published: 01/09/2010 | Author: The Movieman
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.
THE MOVIE – 3.0/5
No doubt Kate Beckinsale is a beautiful woman. Little doubt she’s a good actress as she’s done well in other projects. Also little doubt that she picks some of the most mediocre scripts beginning with Underworld (and the sequel), Van Helsing and even the comedy Click (although that’s an Adam Sandler vehicle). Despite a few suspenseful moments, her latest, Whiteout, continues the trend.
Based on the graphic novel by Greg Rucka, Whiteout centers on U.S. Marshal Carrie Stetko (KATE BECKINSALE) who is the law person on the desolate continent of Antarctica. She’s chosen this outpost after an incident in Miami but after 2 years, she’s resigned and is looking forward to going home. But as a monster storm comes towards the compound and the last airplanes are set to leave before a six-month winter of continuous darkness, a body is discovered in the middle of nowhere. Carrie and the compound’s on-sight doctor John fury (TOM SKERRITT) go to examine the body and quickly determine that this was no accident.
After taking the body back to the compound, Carrie investigates to find out where the victim came from and discovers he and his crewmates are also missing from an outer post. After she receives a distress call from one of the victim’s crewmates, Carrie and her pilot, Delfy (COLUMBUS SHORT), fly out to an outer post where she stumbles upon the killer after he had dispensed with his latest victim. She barely escapes but not without receiving severe frostbite. Later, after passing out, she and Delfy go to investigate further and find a member of U.N. investigator Robert Pryce (GABRIEL MACHT) on site. Now it’s up to Stetko to find the killer – and the motives for the killer or killers – before it’s too late.
The biggest problem I had with Whiteout is that in the end there’s nothing that special about it. It’s only a slight edge above a SyFy Original Movie both in terms of story and visual effects with the only thing giving it that Hollywood feel being Kate Beckinsale and director Dominic Sena’s widescreen scope. Other than that, everything is quite ordinary with little to grab onto that would make this a worthy venture be it at home or the theaters (where it promptly bombed taking in a mere $10.3 million on a $40 million budget.
That being said, I admit that going in I already had low expectations given the ho-hum trailers I had seen on television in August/September 09. The film actually had a fair bit of suspense thanks in large part to the remote area these characters are placed in with no place to go and no help immediately on the horizon. It’s the classic psychologically wounded protagonist vs. the killer antagonist and if not for an average (at best) story, it doesn’t come to a satisfactory conclusion. Instead we get an ending and twist that I could see coming even through the whiteout blizzard.
The supporting cast are fairly complimentary to Beckinsale but still, nothing outstanding or noteworthy. Gabriel Macht’s purpose is to provide doubt for our fair heroine, Tom Skerritt looks like he was channeling is inner Kris Kristofferson (now THAT would’ve been a cool addition to the cast) while the other nameless cast fill their roles effectively enough, just nothing amazing.
Overall, Whiteout is clearly a film that I would wait for on television or as a second choice rental rather than a purchase. Like I said, there are moments of good suspense but everything else from the characters (despite trying to give the main character a back story) and the story itself never really connects.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.0/5
This release, like previous Warner Blu-rays, comes with a slip cover made so when the digital copies expire, can be removed and sent to stores without changing the artwork (the rear inner cover makes no mention of the d/c.
The Coolest Thriller Ever (12:03; HD) – Kate Beckinsale and the rest of the cast and crew talk about freezing their tails off filming in Canada (standing in for Antarctica) and the challenges of filming in such cold weather with the equipment. According to one of the producers, the temperature on location was actually colder than in the place they were filming as. With this featurette, you get to see the friendship between the main three cast members and the crew working in that environment. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Whiteout: From Page to Screen (12:05; HD) – Graphic novel writer Greg Rucka and illustrator Steve Lieber talk about the source material and how it got developed into a feature film. I find these novel-to-film comparison featurettes to be somewhat interesting as you get to see where the subject came from and getting it into 2-D color film. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Additional Scenes (4:14) – There are a selection of deleted scenes that didn’t move the story forward at all. These are presented in letterboxed widescreen.
Digital Copy – The standard digital copy is compatible with WMV and iTunes. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
VIDEO – 4.0/5
Whiteout is presented in its original 2.35 aspect ratio and although unremarkable since it’s a fairly black or white film when outside and even toned down inside, I found the detail levels to be impressive and notice no signs of flaws. There is some natural grain throughout but even during the darker sequences when normally grain or noise can be seen, this one was pretty clean.
AUDIO – 4.0/5
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track is basically acceptable with some good dispersion from each channel. Dialogue levels were very nice, the score by John Frizzell is evenly balanced and the 3-4 action sequences, while not heavy, had a fine theater mix to them. I’m not going to say this is an overly imposing track, but I wasn’t disappointed.
OVERALL – 3.0/5
Although not as bad as I had imagined going in, Whiteout sadly just isn’t a special suspense-thriller. Indeed it does have a good moment or two but with a story that doesn’t exude feature film quality and instead it’s on par with a TV series or worse, SyFy Channel TV movie. My recommendation is that fans of Kate Beckinsale might want to give it a rental otherwise wait for it to air on HBO.