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Overall Rating

Awesome: 2.78%
Worth A Look: 5.56%
Just Average: 11.11%
Pretty Crappy: 36.11%

4 reviews, 12 user ratings

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by Peter Sobczynski

"Do We Blame This On Michael Nesmith's Mother As Well?"
1 stars

Although I usually try to arrive at screenings with at least some vague understanding of what kind of film I am about to see, I have to admit that when I turned up to see “Whiteout,” I didn’t have much of an idea about what it was supposed to be. Oh, I knew a few things about it--I knew that it starred Kate Beckinsale and had been sitting on a studio shelf for more than a year (having completed filming in mid-2007)--but depending on which trailer or commercial one saw, it came across as either a serial killer thriller or some kind of bizarre monster movie. By the time it ended, my questions about what kind of movie it was had sort of been answered but were instead replaced with a new set of questions--why was it made in the first place, why did Warner Brothers suddenly decide to release it after allowing it to gather dust on a studio shelf for nearly two years (it complete filming in mid-2007) and why, after clearly realizing that they had a loser on their hands, did they decide to screen it for critics at a time when most genre craptacular are tossed out onto the marketplace without advanced showings in the hopes of scoring a decent opening weekend before the word-of-mouth begins to get around?

After kicking things off with a 1957-set prologue in which a Russian cargo plane crashes into a remote are of Antarctica after the pilots mysteriously try to murder the crew (yes, a film featuring a violent plane crash opening on September 11--guess we can retire “too soon” from our collective vocabulary), the film cuts to the present-day as a scientific research station in the Antarctic is preparing to shut down for the next six months for the winter season, a period in which the entire area is plunged into extended darkness. It is at this time that a dead body is discovered out on the ice and when it becomes obvious that the victim was murdered, the sole police presence, U.S. Marshall Carrie Stetko (Kate Beckinsale), a cop quietly battling demons that haunt her in the form of gradually unfolding flashbacks, launches an investigation into the area’s first homicide that needs to be wrapped up in less than three days or she will be stuck at the base for the duration of the winter. Along with brash bush pilot Delfy (Columbus Short), avuncular Dr, John Fury (Tom Skerritt) and Robert Pryce (Gabriel Macht), an investigator from the U.N. who mysteriously arrives at the base and whose every utterance is vaguely suspicious, Stetko discovers a few more corpses, has an encounter with a masked attacker that causes her to lose two fingers to frostbite and literally stumbles upon that long-lost airplane and discovers a potential connection between the cargo it once contained and the increasing number of frozen stiffs on her hands.

As you can see, a lot of stuff goes on during “Whiteout” but most of it is simply narrative wheel-spinning since it is pretty much obvious right from the start who the killer is going to turn out to be--as with most lazy thrillers of this type, if there is a character who continues to show up despite serving no real purpose or connection to the story, he or she is almost inevitably the killer. (This is admittedly a little more difficult to surmise here since none of the characters on display have any real purpose or connection.) Making matters worse is that instead of trying to come up with a clever storyline that might challenge viewers, screenwriters Jon & Eric Hoeber have instead given us one of those shabby constructs in which our heroine somehow manages to overlook the obvious for more than hour or so of running time--seriously, Marshall Crenshaw could have cracked this case quicker than Marshall Stetko--until it comes time for the final reel and she unravels everything by making a discovery that would have been laughed out of the room at a “Murder, She Wrote” writers bull session. Of course, there are plenty of other problems with the screenplay beyond the plot predictability. Our heroine, for example, is such a cold and remote type (especially played by Beckinsale, never a particularly warm and engaging actress under the best circumstances) that she makes her surroundings seem positively tropical by comparison. Then, of course, there is the climax where both the killer and the ultimate motivation are finally revealed--the former, as I have already pointed out, is no big surprise but when you discover the reason why, you will most likely find yourself laughing incredulously, booing lustily, quietly humming “Is That All There Is?” or some combination of the three.

Perhaps director Dominic Sena was working under the assumption that we would be so taken by the Antarctic setting (okay, Quebec and Manitoba, but don’t say anything) that we wouldn’t notice that the story was essentially a below-average TV police procedural padded out to feature length with endless footage of vehicles either arriving or departing from various places. Although you would think that endless snowy vistas wouldn’t lend much visual panache to a film, such things can be striking and beautiful in the right hands as anyone who has seen Werner Herzog’s “Encounters at the End of the World” or even Robert Altman’s unjustly maligned “Quintet” can attest. Of course, Herzog and Altman are among the all-time great filmmakers while Sena is the guy who made “Swordfish” and all he manages to achieves is conclusive proof that one should never try to stage a climatic fight scene in darkness in the middle of a howling snowstorm unless they specifically want the audience to have no idea of what is going on at any given time based on the empirical evidence.

Little more than an extended episode of “C.S.I. Antarctica,” “Whiteout” is a film that couldn’t be more boring and uninteresting if it tried and if there is one thing that it most certainly doesn’t do, it is try. It fails on every conceivable level to such a degree that you wonder how the participants were able to muster up the energy to go to the set everyday and wander around in uncomfortable outfits mouthing unspeakable dialogue in the service of an unplayable story. Even as camp, it fails because while it contains any number of unintentionally hilarious moments, the sheer laziness on display is so aggravating that most viewers will come away from it feeling genuinely angry that they wasted their time and money on something so completely useless. Remember how I mentioned that our heroine loses two of her fingers in the course of her investigation? My guess is that long before “Whiteout” comes to its merciful end, most viewers will be giving both her and the film one of their own in return.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17088&reviewer=389
originally posted: 09/11/09 00:00:00
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User Comments

1/24/11 mr,mike An OK cable watch. 4 stars
5/13/10 DK Mediocrity exagerrated to the nth degree. Beckinsale is okay though 1 stars
1/21/10 Lois Teem Why all the hatred for Australians? Guess to someone they're not from far enough down under 2 stars
12/24/09 Job Lowe So-so movie. Kate Beckinsale is hotter with 8 fingers than most actresses with 10. 3 stars
12/16/09 Lenny Zane Not Bad. Kate Beckonsail's best movie since ALICE THREW THE LOOKING GLASS. 3 stars
10/10/09 His_wife35 Pakistan for them in twenty years hard work. , 4 stars
9/21/09 lamppostinn.com Knowing how your device hardware is wired does not necessarily tell you how its resources 3 stars
9/17/09 laidbacklarkin terrible. lacklustre. dull. plodding. completely clueless. utter waste of time and money. 1 stars
9/16/09 www.nc.esc.state.us This contrasted with parallel titles of the same names which contained conventional hardboi 3 stars
9/15/09 utMwFXGqo doors.txt;10;15 5 stars
9/12/09 Paul Sucks. The Trailers make it out to be a great thriller movie. Horrible movie. 1 stars
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  11-Sep-2009 (R)
  DVD: 19-Jan-2010


  DVD: 19-Jan-2010

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