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WHITEOUT - 2009
Warner Bros. Pictures, Dark Castle Entertainment
Rated: Australia: MA / Canada: 14A / Ireland: 15A / Singapore: NC-16 / UK: 15 / USA: R
It's the late 1950s. The Cold War began in earnest under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a battle weary WWII vet, who was willing to do nearly anything not to go to, or even provoke, another war. Once the Soviets realized this, they went out of their way to do all they could to provoke a war, just to see how far they could push and how much they could gain. After all, the U.S. at this time was considered the #1 world power, and having a Democracy at #1 doesn't do a lot to promote Communism at #2.
A Soviet plane flies across the Antarctic, near the South Pole, at night. And because this is the Antarctic, by night I mean six months worth of black skies and fierce storms.
The co-pilot cryptically says to the pilot that he might as well get this over with. He goes to the back of the plane, and as dramatically as possible, starts a vicious shoot-out with a bunch of guys, loaded with various guns and weapons, who really seem to be put off by betrayal.
This starts a serious WTF? moment. They just took off from the Antarctic. Clearly the co-pilot knew these guys were well armed and he only brought a single action pistol. And he thought that, thousands of feet up, thousands miles from anywhere, over the Antarctic, in the deadest of dead nights, in a thin hulled plane, now was the very BEST time and place to start a shoot-out? To no one in the audience's surprise, the plane crashes.
The thought in everyone's mind now is, what made these guys so damn stupid? Because stupid people generally aren't sent to the middle of the Antarctic (it's a good idea, but we don't do that).
Now in the present we meet Carrie Stetko (Kate Beckinsale: UNDERWORLD [all]), Antarctica's only U.S. Marshall, setting down at a remote substation. A party is about to happen there. She meets up with her old friend, kindly Doctor John Fury (Tom Skerrit: THE DEVIL'S RAIN, ALIEN). She has a kinda sorta flashback or memory of something, and the next thing we know, she is up in a plane with pilot, Delfy (Columbus Short: WAR OF THE WORLDS), and back down again investigating a body in the ice that had been seen from a passing plane. Not that there is a lot of air traffic across Antarctica.
When the body is brought back and identified, the very real possibility exists that the dead man could be Antarctica's first homicide. Night, however, is about to fall and the skeleton crew that is left behind will have to stay for the full six months of it. Doc offers to let the body be flown back to the states or at least a friendly neighboring country and let them handle it, but Carrie believes that this could be a crime that's easily solved. After all, every single person in Antarctica is easily tracked and ID' d. The place is just too damn inhospitable and too damn remote for folks to come and go without notice. If this was a murder instead of an accident, then she'll find out who did it pretty damn quick.
Then Carrie gets a call from another substation: a station that is supposed to be already abandoned for the upcoming night. The guy there, McGuire (Arthur Holden: HEAVY METAL 2000, THE SUM OF ALL FEARS), tells Carrie that he knows what is going on and he'll tell her, but she has to come to him. And she has to come alone!
So she does!
WTF? Now the movie has already established that there are a fixed number of people living and moving in and out of Antarctica - and every one of them is known and registered. Moreover, it has also established that the weather is kicking up as 6 months of nightfall approaches. Finally, it has repeated several times over that some folks tend to go crazy out here. The only unknown, but certainly the biggest unknown, is Who Is The Murderer? It's clear she could be walking into a trap. It's clear she could be jeopardizing the life of her pilot. It's clear that, though McGuire could never get away with his crime should he choose to murder them, he might be too snowbound crazy to care (that and he'll have a fueled up plane to get him off the ice and at least to Argentina.) It makes no sense for her to go, especially alone, but that's what she does. It was at this point that the audience released the first of many groans.
Merry Mishaps occur to absolutely no one's surprise and with that came the second of many groans. WHITEOUT becomes a slasher movie. Yes, in the middle of the coldest place on earth, in the frozen wastes, night time mere hours away, a slasher is running amuck across the frozen wastelands in the heart of Antarctica.
Now trust me when I say that I'm no expert on Antarctica. I've no idea how they really play it there, have it set up there, and what infrastructure they use to try and track and keep safe the very small handful of people who go there. But I do know the logic that the movie laid out. Not one plane flies in or out but that pretty much everyone on the continent knows it, because there is so little air traffic that you only have a small handful flying inbound at any given time.
Carrie severely damages her hand in her fight with the slasher and barely makes it back inside a cabin with her life. She has a severe hand injury, it's all bandaged up. There is no where for the slasher killer to go but now, even with one hand out of commission, she is going back
to the other isolated snow hut - again - to try and find the slasher.
? ? ?
Delfy, the pilot, chooses to go with her instead of knocking her silly ass out and properly flying her back to the main camp for some much needed medical attention and maybe a psychiatric evaluation.
When they go back to the hut the second time, instead of a serial killer they meet Robert Pryce (Gabriel Macht: THE SPIRIT). Robert flashes a plastic badge and says he's on a top secret mission for the UN.
How did he get there?
flew over and dropped him in.
How is it that Delfy never heard the plane?
Don't ask, because this movie won't answer.
How long as Robert been there?
Did he see a killer?
What killer? And by the way, as a UN representative on a top secret mission, I'll need to commandeer your plane.
We have a U.S. Marshall, now investigating the only TWO homicides ever committed in Antarctica. She is in bad need of medical attention thanks to her damaged hand caused by a anonymous slasher killer - Who Could Be Anyone (but especially a stranger with an unbelievable story). And! And! AND! Without calling someone to verify Robert's UN credentials they are going to let him call all the shots and go deeper into the Antarctic while the storm kicks up and nightfall approaches?
This movie got so damn stupid I was actually surprised that Lorenzo Lamas isn't in it.
Based off of what must surely have been a superior graphic novel written by Greg Rucka and illustrated by Steve Lieber, this mess was written for the screen by the two screenwriting teams of Jon & Erich Hoeber (their first script sale in over ten years) and twin brothers Chad and Carey Hayes (HOUSE OF WAX, THE REAPING). Producer Susan Downey (GHOST SHIP, GOTHIKA, HOUSE OF WAX, THE REAPING, THE INVASION), must be awfully fond of the brothers Hayes seeing as how their scripts lost her so much money with HOUSE OF WAX and THE REAPING. This would be their third strike with her. This would also be a third strike for Producer David Gambino (THE INVASION, THE BRAVE ONE), and of course, Producer Joel Silver (PREDATOR [all], TALES FROM THE CRYPT: DEMON KNIGHT, THE MATRIX [all], HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, THIR13EN GHOSTS, GHOST SHIP, GOTHIKA, HOUSE OF WAX, V FOR VENDETTA, THE REAPING, THE INVASION, ORPHAN) who co-owns the Dark Castle company, and has enough past history to take several loser movies per year and still come out smelling like a rose.
Director Dominic Sena really didn't need another feature film catastrophe on his hands. Not after the back to back disasters of Gone in 60 Seconds and Swordfish. He really needs a hit with his upcoming SEASON OF THE WITCH, scheduled for 2010.
As if sitting through this farce wasn't bad enough, you keep expecting, hoping that the secret buried in that Soviet plane from 50 odd years ago will make this all worthwhile, right? In fact, UN boy hints about the horror that could be on that plane! There are many allusions as to what could have may have been on that plane. But when we finally discover the secret as to what was REALLY on that plane, why there would be so much killing and craziness over it, I just sat there thinking, 'That's it? That's the big damn deal? Are you freaking KIDDING ME?!?'
And Gabriel Macht, dude! I know this wasn't your fault. Doing a Joel Silver picture must have seemed like a good career move. But you're now 2 for 2 in movies that shamelessly butcher popular graphic novels. If you get one more, the fans are going to notice and your name, as an actor, will be a derisive joke at comic book conventions. Careful man! Careful!
WHITEOUT gets 1 Shriekgirl. Kill It before It Breeds!
copyright 2009 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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