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Rating: 5.5 out of 10
Run Time: 1h 41m
Release date: September 11, 2009
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Gabriel Macht, Alex O’Loughlin, Columbus Short, Shawn Doyle and Tom Skerritt
Directed by Dominic Sena
Screenplay by Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber


OVERVIEW – Whiteout 

The summer movie season has come to a close. It’s now time to burn off the films that weren’t strong enough for spring or summer, which means it’s September once again. Unfortunately I didn’t want to see ‘Whiteout’ turned into a two-hour mediocre affair, but I did. Based on a solid read, it is one of my favorite graphic novels. For everything ‘Whiteout’ the graphic novel is, the film is not. Dominic Sena’s comic-to-film adaptation of ‘Whiteout’ is a painfully dull by-the-numbers thriller.

The first glaring indicator that the film adaptation of ‘Whiteout’ was in jeopardy was when it was pushed back over a year from its original release date. A film being pushed back doesn’t always mean the film will be bad, but it’s usually a telling sign. Some might say another sign ‘Whiteout’ would not be a decent film translation its choice of director: Dominic Sena, who previously directed ‘Gone In 60 Seconds’ and ‘Swordfish’, both of which are not stunning films but solid action films.

For any fans of the source material, I will start by saying ‘Whiteout’ the film is not like ‘Whiteout’ the graphic novel. Instead ‘Whiteout’ has become a watered-down, generic murder mystery that feels more like an hour-long CBS crime drama.

The trailer for ‘Whiteout’ is misleading. The trailer wants audiences with no idea of the source material to think there is a crashed space ship or monsters in the arctic. That’s 100% false. The big reveal of what is hidden in the ice is revealed in the first five minutes of the film in one of many unnecessary flashback sequences. What is in the ice is the wreckage of a crashed WWII Russian cargo plane. That’s part of the mystery.

After a needless opening flashback sequence, ‘Whiteout’ jumps to modern day where we are introduced to our protagonist, U.S. deputy marshal Carrie Stetko (Kate Beckinsale), who is on assignment at a research station in the remote reaches of Antarctica.

Beckinsale is a solid actress and a good casting choice for the role of Carrie Stetko, but you know what type of film. It’s going to be when our first introduction of her involves an extended scene her undressing from her bulky arctic clothes down to her underwear, culminating in a full on ass shot before she gets into the shower. This scene doesn’t fit tough-as-nails Carrie Stetko, and felt out of place. Kate Beckinsale is a stunning woman, but when she strips down for no real reason (as appreciated as it was) it sets the tone of the film in the wrong way.

For some unknown reason this research station is jam-packed full of people, particularly college intern/ frat guy types that run around streaking in subzero temperatures and wear Hawaiian shirts while brag about drinking aged whisky over million year old ice. There’s no real explanation why Carrie Stetko is stationed there (besides to baby-sit rowdy students) but it’s alluded to that she needed to escape from where she was last stationed.

The explanation of why she chose to get away is handled through another clunky use of flashbacks. I’m not opposed to the use of flashbacks as a general rule, but in ‘Whiteout’ they are forced and simply pad out the run time of the film. Worst of all, they are just cheesy as hell.

When a body is discovered out in the ice and all signs point to it being murder, Carrie Stetko is on the case and has to discover who is behind committing “the first murder in Antarctica.”

There’s a few good plot elements in ‘Whiteout’ that never seem to congeal into a decent film. There’s the threat of the harsh environment, the quest to solve Antarctica’s first murder, the question of what is inside the crashed WW II Russian cargo plane, and the fact that those around Carrie Stetko seem to be harboring secrets (meaning anyone- friend or foe- could be the murderer).

There’s lots of stuff for this film to work with, on top of the fact it’s based off of a very strong source material. ‘Whiteout’ sidesteps all of these and just aims to be the worst possible film it can be. It’s a film where characters utter serious dialogue that is actually laugh-out-loud funny to the audience, inconsistencies in the story run amuck, and, in general, is just an unpleasant way to spend two hours. And I’m a Kate Beckinsale fan.

‘Whiteout’ is another comic-to-screen adaptation in an already oversaturated market of films based off of graphic novels. It’s clear that sometimes something should be left on the page no matter how strong the source material. I highly recommend people to check out ‘Whiteout’ the graphic novel, but I cannot say the same for ‘Whiteout’ the film. It’s a halfhearted attempt at a dark and serious film that comes across feeling more like a generic cable movie-of-the-week with a slightly better talent.

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