15 April 2015



USA / Canada / France, 2009
Director: Dominic Sena


Dominic Sena was one of the most prolific music video directors of the late 80s and early 90s, directing more than 40 music videos for superstars like Janet Jackson, Sting, Tina Turner or Fleetwood Mac. He even received a Grammy for the Janet Jackson video "Rhythm Nation". In 1993 he quit making music videos and shot his very first feature film "Kalifornia", an incredible road-movie/thriller
that sadly became a big box office flop.

After a 7-year-hiatus he returned to directing and shot 5 features between 2000 and 2011. Domestically, two of them disappointed at the box office ("Gone in 60 Seconds", 2000 + "Swordfish", 2001), two were massive box office bombs ("Whiteout", 2009 + "Season of the Witch", 2011) and then there was also a TV pilot that never made it into a series ("13 Graves", 2006) - so, all in all, it didn't exactly work that well for Sena after he left the music video business...

His biggest bomb was "Whiteout", a 2009 mystery-thriller with action and horror elements, based on the comic book of the same name. It grossed only about $18 million worldwide against a budget of $35 million. The reason for this failure is simple: shitty marketing. The trailers/teasers were over-aggressive and desperately tried to make it look like a horror film in the vein of Carpenter's "The Thing", while the frozen-Beckinsale-face poster artwork (see below) looked just lame. Also, like Box Office Mojo correctly claimed, "the ads (...) made the mistake of assuming that Beckinsale was a draw herself, presumably because she has appeared in some popular movies."

The movie itself isn't particularly bad, but it's pretty flawed and uneven. It's very well shot and solidly directed, but also highly predictable and foreseeable, due to the muddled screenplay [written by Erich & Joen Hoeber ("Battleship"), Carey & Chad Hayes ("The Conjuring")] which is packed with unoriginal plot twists, uninspired plot points, mediocre dialogue and a couple of rather boring characters. Yet, the most irritating thing about it is how many genres they tried to stuff in: even though it's a run-of-the-mill mystery-thriller, there are several scenes that look like they belong into a slasher film (maybe "Cold Prey"?), some action-related sequences, some emotional drama stuff, some disaster-film stuff - and nothing really fits together.

That said, it's still a quite entertaining film with some decently tense scenes, such as the entire Vostok Station scene or the sequence with the Russian cargo plane, some fairly good-looking CGI, lots and lots of super-gorgeous antarctic landscapes, a neat score by John Frizzell ("Alien: Resurrection"), as well as some great lighting and editing. Kate Beckinsale is a solid lead, though nearly all of the other actors deliver far better performances, especially Gabriel Macht, Columbus Short and Tom Skerritt.

Nothing special, but definitely a solid watch - and obviosuly far, far, far better that Sena's other uber-bomb, the horrible "Season of the Witch".

Wiki ~ Imdb



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