Whiteout

Whiteout (2009)
Warner Home Video
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Tom Skerrit, Gabriel Macht, Columbus Short
Extras: Deleted Scenes, Featurettes
Rating:

When I first saw the trailer for "Whiteout" on TV some time ago, it invariably reminded me of John Carpenter's "The Thing," a film I hold in very high esteem. Naturally, I was intrigued, and curious to see the film. Now it is available on Blu-Ray Disc, thanks to our friends at Warner Home Video, and as soon as the disc landed on my desk, I decided to give this chiller closer look.

After a dark episode in sunny Miami that she tries to forget, U.S. Marshall Carrie Stetko (Kate Beckinsale) has been exchanging the Florida sun for the cold of the Arctic. Patrolling a small research station in the ice, she was handling mostly misdemeanors only, when one day she discovers a body, frozen in the ice. Just before the station is being evacuated for an oncoming storm and the arctic winter, the case threatens to leave her and some of her fellow inhabitants stranded in the ice for 6 months without hope of a ray of sun. Her findings show that the victim, a member of a small team of geologists working offsite, was murdered and she begins to wonder why no one missed him. when her calls remain unanswered, she decides to visit the remote station of the geologists, only to find her worst suspicions confirmed. Everyone at the station has been killed as well, and before she can make sense of it the killer is right on top of her! A furious game of cat and mouse begins as Carrie tries to figure out who is behind the murders, and why.

While I wanted to like "Whiteout", my hopes for it were dashed very early on in the picture I am sad to report. Director Dominic Sena may have delivered a taut thriller with "Swordfish" but in the case of "Whiteout" he seems to have thrown all common sense in the wind and opt for style – and style only.

Sadly, "Whiteout" is riddled with logical and factual errors, as well as an incredibly predictable plot, poorly developed characters and a shockingly underwhelming finale that would be better suited for a soap opera than what tries to be a thriller. and what's up with that closing shot of Kate Beckinsale looking like a Chanel model? Give me a break, please. All in all the film simply puts it on a little too thick most of the time and spreads itself too thin where it really counts. what a missed opportunity, unfortunately, and yes, did I mention that I knew who the villain is within the first 5 minutes of the movie?

Warner Home Video has prepared a beautiful high definition transfer for the film here on this Blu-Ray Disc. As I pointed out earlier, the movie clearly emphasizes style over matter, and it is great to see that visual style reproduced meticulously in this presentation. From the stark white, blue-hinted frosty snowscapes, to the cozy warm interiors with their warm colors to contrast the wild outdoor shots, the film offers plenty of candy for the eyes. With great contrast and razor sharp edges the film makes the best of the format, so much so that the special effects shots stand out as a tad too soft, in fact. Black levels are solid and give the image a natural look and balance while highlights are never washed out or exaggerated.

The audio on the release comes as a Dolby Digital TrueHD track that is aggressive and voluminous. Working the split surround channels very actively, there is always something going on in the track to engage the viewer. Very effective throughout and with a wide soundstage, the audio presentation matches the visual impact of the film easily. Dialogues are well integrated and never drowned out making for a rock solid presentation.

As extras the release offers the featurette "From Page To Screen" in which the filmmakers take you behind the scenes to chronicle the process the film underwent from the graphic novel to the screen. It is filled with on set footage that is fun to see, and gives viewers an understanding about the harsh conditions this movie was shot under.

"The Coolest Thriller Ever" is another featurette in which cast members give you a behind the scenes look at the production of the film. In addition to these, the release contains a selection of deleted scenes.

To me "Whiteout" was a disappointment, not so much because I expected too much but because it is simply a horribly flawed film. While the technical presentation is top notch, the film itself falls flat on its face. No less than four writers take credit for this movie and not one of them saw the plot holes and logical errors that even a casual viewer can spot at a glance. Just for example, when entering a building in which a potentially violent armed offender is suspected, procedure is to prepare yourself and unholster your weapon before entering the building. You do not walk down a corridor for 50 yards before you remember that it might be wise to get your gun out. Mistakes and oversights like this one make "Whiteout" clearly a case where I have to say, "I could have written a better movie than that."

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