Theatrical Review: Whiteout

At a United States science facility based in the Antarctic, U.S. Marshal, Carrie Stetko, who basically has a very routine job at the site, now all of a sudden has murder mystery at her hands, and must come to grips solving this murder right as a major arctic storm is about to enforce the evacuation of the same site.

That’s the basic premise to Whiteout, the latest comic book-to-film translation adapting the acclaimed series by creators Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber to the big screen. It’s also the return to the big screen for director Dominic Sena, who hasn’t been seen since Swordfish and the remake of Gone in 60 Seconds. And it’s a pretty darn good film, not spectacular, but a solid film.

I’ve not read the comic and out of the three of us that went to see this together, only one of us had read the book and according to that one, there are cosmetic changes from the original but for the most part, the movie did follow the book. For Dominic Sena, it seems that the time away from a big screen project has tempered him, and instead of opting for some of the higher energy of his earlier films, this is way more laid back in it’s visual presentation, and at least to me, perfectly fitting with the piece itself.

It’s a good and solid murder mystery, though not at all overtly flashy, but with some nicely drawn characters and a story that, again to me, doesn’t cheat in anyway, in other words, all of the pieces are there for this to come to it’s logical conclusion. I’ve heard that this is getting some bad reviews, with one in particular coming from Entertainment Weekly that also chastises this for some “gratuitous nudity” at the start of the film, that after seeing it myself makes me think that it must’ve been a slow news week for EW when this was reviewed and that it’s reviewer was just scraping for something to rail about, as what’s here is hardly gratuitous at all.

The thing Whiteout isn’t though, is it isn’t a big spectacle for the theatres, and it’s a hard sell for anyone other than those that know it’s roots and are predisposed to see it because of that- now I’m not complaining about that, I really enjoyed the film, and I give props to Warners and Dark Castle for making the movie and having something that’s a little different out there, though it’s disheartening that it can’t be recognized for that and in turn will only be judged by what it can turnover in it’s opening weekend.

There are really no big names at work here, Kate Beckinsale who plays Carrie is the most well known, but she’s hardly box office gold, but to me anyway, she’s totally right for the part and she does a decent job as Carrie Stetko, and has some weight behind the performance. She’s backed up with a solid performance from Tom Skerritt as her close friend and confidant on the base (and it’s been awhile since I’ve seen Skerritt in anything on the big screen as well) and Gabriel Macht (last seen as The Spirit) who’s playing one of the changed characters here, a UN agent sent in to help with this investigation, who’s also serving a dual purpose as someone to raise our suspicions over. I really liked Macht here, and as I was watching him, I thought he’d actually be a good choice for Marvel to pursue as Captain America for their upcoming film, but I digress…

In the end though, I think this is a pretty solid film and I would hope that fans of the original material will like it, I know my one friend who read the book did. But other than that, is it the sort of thing that’s going to get anyone else real excited to actually make the trip to a theatre to see it, especially in these current times, I don’t think so, and that’s really sad that most just won’t even give it that chance, but more opt for it later on when it hits DVD and more than likely on cable.

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

13. September 2009 by Darren Goodhart
Categories: Text Reviews, Theatrical Review | Leave a comment

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