The promotion for Whiteout was simple: a mystery set in a desolate arctic setting that inspires extreme frigidness and a general thankfulness for the current climate you reside in (although as I’m writing this review it’s 9 degrees outside so…not so thankful). Oh…but while that’s the main point of the movie, the trailers often showed Beckinsale in a state of undress and when fans of the blue eyed brunette got into theaters they didn’t have to wait long before she took her clothes off…and then promptly bundled up for the remainder of the film. Yes…even the excessive nudity hook wasn’t something this film stuck to and instead it focused on the story it was trying to tell…much to the dismay of Beckinsale fans. And for fans of movies as well, as this was one terrible outing.
Underworld’s Kate Beckinsale plays a U.S. Marshal based at an Antarctic research station, where the continent’s first-ever murder triggers a shocking mystery she must race to solve before being stranded with six months of winter darkness – and a killer – closing in. Dominic Sena (Swordfish) directs a talented cast including Gabriel Macht, Tom Skerritt and Alex O’Loughlin in Dark Castle Entertainment’s action-packed thriller.
The film, based off of a comic book of the same title, really just didn’t translate well to the screen. I could see how it would’ve made an impact in the comic book world, as it had the elements that most good comics have…but it seemed that they stuck a little too closely to the pacing and story progression of the comic book. You can almost feel where the story was split into four issues, which makes for a horribly broken feeling production. I respect that they tried to stay as close to the source material as they could and while it certainly wasn’t as broken as, say, Sin City, it also had a great deal less ingenuity and pizzazz behind it as well.
While Beckinsale is always a pleasure to look at, she was really one of the hardest things about this film to watch. Her acting was solid, but that was the real problem—no one else could really act along with her and it all came off as a really horrible B-level production. I wanted to get into this story, but every time the mystery got pushed into our faces I just yawned and wondered when it would all end. The film never crossed into a “wow this is really stupid” territory (although it came close with Beckinsale’s spontaneous flashbacks that seemed to crop up with the smallest inflection upon the character), but it also never became something that was really engaging either. The closet it ever got to keeping my attention was when a trio of characters got trapped in a buried cargo plane…but then they escaped two minutes later, so I was then bored again. Then immediately after that their snow vehicle’s engine wouldn’t start, so they shared a couple swigs of old Russian vodka they found on the plane and…then the snow vehicle started up. It’s such a random sequence of scenes that it makes you wonder if there was an editor on this film at all or if they just wanted to include everything they filmed for it.
Another major flaw in this film was the ultimate grouping of bad guys. The motivation for them was rather uninspired (Oh gee, diamonds!) and honestly I’d expected the big revelation to be something a bit more enticing than diamonds…but, nope. I guess I expected something more akin to 30 Days of Night and not just another stupid action genre flick with a pretty lady. The big mystery never kept me guessing because it was either way too vague in the story it was trying to tell or I just lost interest really early on…but I actually had no idea who the bad guy was when the big “revelation” occurred. I actually had to pause the screen to study the actors face before I could place him. It was just that bad.
I really don’t know who could enjoy this film. It simply has too little going on for it to be something anyone could find entertaining. It’s an insult to the word “mindless” because it drags on with a singular idea that should go on no longer than half an hour (which is likely how long it takes to read the entire trade paperback of the original comic) and by the time it finally resolves itself and divulges the “mystery” of Beckinsale’s character, you just stop caring. It’s as simple as that. There’s just nothing in this film to invest yourself in and you’ll quickly find your mind wandering. Skip It.
Damn you, Warner! This film will move copies on retail and rental shelves solely based on this cover art alone. I’ve already commented on Beckinsale’s looks, but that’s the entire selling point of this cove here. A stark white cover with Beckinsale’s blue eyes popping off of the cover…combine that with the gun she’s holding close to face and it’s a hard cover not to stare at. But I suppose Warner deserves to recoup some of their losses—it was a $35 million dollar production, after all, and it made back a whole $12.2 of it (and that’s worldwide). The rest of the case is a standard Blu-ray two-disc case (non-Eco though…weird) with the Blu-ray itself and a second disc for the digital copy. A singular insert for the Insider Rewards and Digital Copy codes is included, while an external slipcase mimics the art beneath it.
The video, a VC-1 encoded transfer, couldn’t keep my attention either. Granted it’s a stark white setting most of the time with very little colors, if any, but…man. Talk about a bland transfer. This is one of the first big action type films I’d watched on my new TV and…the amount of disappointment I felt was really just immeasurable. Picture detail was almost non-existent, which can be expected as it was shot on-location for the most part, but even the sequences on very-obvious green screen just looked smeared over. It honestly looks like they DNR’d the crap out of this film, which is ridiculous considering its modern and shouldn’t have had that much noise to begin with…but here we are. A truly disappointing and boring video transfer, with only the flashback sequences emitting any kind of clarity or color to cast your eyes upon (and even then we had to withstand the same horrible green screen for that scene twice…ugh).
While the video stinks, the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix is a bit better. The audio is crisp and clear, with dialogue coming through the center channel without flaw. Having said that there really isn’t a whole lot in this film to cause the house to shake; most of its just blizzard noises whipping throughout the room. Which is fine and all, but guns being fired and explosions usually make more of a racket than this film did…but I guess I shouldn’t be overly surprised at its shortcomings.
The Coldest Thriller Ever (12:02, 1080p)
Whiteout: From Page to Screen (12:05, 1080p)
Deleted Scenes (4:14, SD)
There are some serious attempts from the cast and crew to justify this film, but ultimately they’re unable to. At least in my eyes. I kind of feel bad for the original writers of the comic book, as they seem excited about it…but that was before it premiered and everything, so I guess that’s why. The on-set footage was interesting, simply because I didn’t think the film was even shot on location since it looked so horrible most of the time…but even knowing that they attempted to make this film worthwhile by setting the actors in a truly lip-blueing environment, I still don’t care about this film.
I guess in the end it’s not so much that the film was horrible, so much that it was just really, really unoriginal and boring. The setting was the films only “hook” and since it adds nothing to the overall experience (especially considering the video transfer is so abysmal), it can’t even be counted as a positive influence on it. Skip It.
Whiteout arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on January 19th.