Whiteout Review

Published 6 years ago by

Short version: While far from perfect, Whiteout does manage to keep you guessing until the end and ultimately doesn’t leave you feeling ripped off.

whiteout 1 Whiteout Review
Screen Rant’s Paul Young reviews Whiteout

A while back, Kate Beckinsale was asked about her involvement with the next Underworld movie and she explained that she was done wearing tight leather outfits. I thought she might be serious, but man, she didn’t have to go overboard on the next film by walking around 95% of the time wearing a parka! But I’ve got to give credit to whoever wrote the opening scene for Whiteout, Oscar-worthy material my friend – in a scene that was obviously written to appeal to the young male audience, Beckinsale walks through the snow into her room and promptly removes most (read: not enough) of her clothing in order to take a shower.

The scene does nothing to move along, set up, or explain the story of Whiteout and is sure to become “Most Unnecessary (and Gratuitous) Scene of the Year.” That being said, based on the graphic novel by Greg Rucka, Whiteout is a decent enough attempt at a Fall movie season thriller.

Set at a U.S. Geological camp at the South Pole in Antarctica only three days before winter starts, Beckinsale plays U.S. Marshall Carrie Stetko, and she has some issues with trust. When a body, or “popsicle,” is discovered in the ice by pilot Delfy (Columbus Short), Stetko and camp doctor Dr. John Fury (Tom Skerritt) head out to investigate.

Their investigation leads them to realize that a murder has occurred and that the killer is still at large; and, seeing as how they are at the most remote place on the planet, there’s a better than good chance the killer is still in the camp. Along the way, she meets U.N. detective Robert Pryce, played by The Spirit’s Gabriel Macht, and together they hunt the killer and try to recover some lost Russian items.

The writers do a good job of throwing in plenty of misdirection and some red herrings to keep audiences guessing (although I pegged the twist about ¾ of the way through). What director Dominic Sena (Swordfish, Gone in Sixty Seconds) could have left out were all the hazy, orange saturated flashbacks. I sort of understand what he was trying to do with them but he only needed to do it once and not the three or four times he choose to go with. Also, he could have left out the “ah-ha” moment as a flashback. Once the twist is revealed, it’s not that hard to connect the dots and by flashing back Sena insults the audience.

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What Whiteout tries to do (emphasis on tries), is make the audience feel the solidarity and aloneness of being at the bottom of the earth, but that’s very hard to do because it seems like dozens of people are living and working down there and it’s a party every day. Heck, I want to go just drink off the “million year old ice.” Here’s a tip for all directors that want me to feel like I’m alone: Stop putting so many people in your film! Stetko is literally alone for maybe 5 minutes the entire film, even the shower scene is interrupted after 30 seconds.

The action scenes in the snow and blizzards are a neat idea but they aren’t really done right because of all the CGI. Everything ends up looking blurry, out of focus and ultimately is just too hard to discern. The idea of fighting in a blizzard does lend itself to some interesting concepts but it just didn’t work here, which leads me to my next point.

There is WAY too much CGI in a movie like this. I have feared for some time now that directors were beginning to lean on the CGI crutch far too often and this just goes to prove my point. The opening scene of a Russian plane flying and then crashing in the Antarctic would have been super cool to watch but the whole thing is done in CG. I don’t see how it’s cheaper to hire a team of CG artists to design everything but the sky instead of just renting a plane for a day and then adding some digital snow but I guess that’s why I don’t sign the checks.

Another thing that bothered me was the ending – I saw it coming long before it happened and it seemed like the writers took the easy way out. The whole scene feels very much like the Necromonger walking into the sun’s rays from Chronicles of Riddick. You’ll know what I mean after you watch it. Also, the killer is very scary and I never really felt Stetko’s anxiety or any impending doom for any of the characters.

I’ve said it before in my Observe and Report review but I don’t really need to see a line of flopping man junk running across the screen for me to enjoy a film. Oh yes, there is a scene like that in Whiteout, it’s short and at the beginning but again, unnecessary to the plot and didn’t help set the mood or surroundings at all. In fact, it goes against everything the movie portrays about the extreme cold at the South Pole. We are told that it gets to -65 degree Celsius and you begin to experience hypothermia after three minutes. Don’t know about you, but I don’t need any frozen tundra down unda!

Overall though, those are minor gripes on a mostly entertaining film. If you’re looking for something new to watch this weekend that isn’t animated, Whiteout is a solid choice and will make for a decent night out. There’s no way it beats out 9 for number one this weekend, but hopefully it puts Gamer out of play and kills off Final Destination for the number two spot.

Our Rating:

3 out of 5

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  1. Thanks for the review Paul

    Any similarities to The Thing? (I got that vibe from the trailer).

    And I’m 100% with Hamlet on Kate B. Something about her just rubs me the wrong way. She’s a decent actress, very pretty, but I can never get into any of the characters she plays.

  2. @hamlet3k – You’ll be happy to know that there is no love sub-plot going on between Stetko and Pryce. She has trust issues so that avenue is never explored. Which does beg the question “Why change the gender of Pryce?”

    @ogb – No they did some terrible marketing for this film. The only similarity to The Thing would be the snow. I think in the long run, the marketing is going to hurt them.

  3. @ hamlet

    I believe Beckinsale is English, not Australian.

  4. Pauls review is way off on this movie, go see it. It’s very good. The advertising is misleading though. It makes it look like something otherworldly is involved. It’s not. It’s just a very good thriller.

  5. @Kofi

    I think Dr. House would be quick to tell you that they’re all the same because they have the queen on their money… :-P

  6. @ Paul

    Probably so the producers wouldn’t have to address the subtle undertones of female/female attraction present in the source material. Heaven forbid Hollywood present lesbians that aren’t homicidally deranged (Thelma and Louise, Monster) or shark-toothed demons (Jennifer’s Body). Le sigh.

    @ Kofi

    Ha. :)

    The joke was aimed at a callback to Paul’s review, where he used the term to refer to a guy getting hypothermia in the worst place possible. I posit that Kate Beckinsale engages her (male) audience in the nethers only. She’s attractive, but otherwise utterly uninteresting. The best performance I ever saw out of her was in Ken Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing, back when she was twenty and still had her original nose.

  7. Your review is wrong. This movie was terrible. A half star at the most.

  8. I think you guys/gals are being too hard on the film. The last two films I watched were Final Destination and Gamer…after those this thing was like Citzen Friggin’ Kane to me :)

    We can’t absolutley hate every film that gets put out by Hollywood.

  9. Im glad i watched 9 instead of this. It didnt look interesting to begin with and Im not a Kate beckinsale bandwagoneer either.

    @ Paul Young

    Even the jean Claude Van Damme Street Fighter would be like Citizen kane after watching The Final Destinal and Gamer, especially one right after the other.

  10. Ooops, I realize one of my comments may contain a possible spoiler, so don’t read further unless you’ve seen it. But, if you read the reviews beforehand, I’m sure you don’t care.

    Well, I was disappointed as well as the wife, who also thought it was going to be more like The Thing. I disagree though with the reviewer’s opinion on the whiteout fighting along the rope lines, it worked for me and made me jump more than once. Being “Glare Blind” I cannot see into a dark area if there is any light shinning in my eyes, so I understand the frustration of trying to see in a whiteout.

    Not knowing of the graphic novel beforehand, I assumed Gabriel Macht’s character was more of a “another suspect” ploy than gender reassignment. The villain was more menacing in his outfit than in his reality. And of course having studied screenwriting, it’s got to be one of the remaining characters in the group (unless of course there is an unknown lurking around…I was waiting for the villain from Frequency to show up, not having gotten on the plane, but, damn, he had a fax machine, so it’s not him).

    And I was shocked to see the gratuitous shower scene, even me, an admirer of Beckinsale since seeing her “altogether” in Haunted way before she hit it big after Pearl Harbor. If the director had started the Miami flashback then, since it is a very hot shower, it would have made some sense. Otherwise it’s just a scene I’m sure my son will remember fondly when he’s older. Until I looked up Sena’s other credits, I couldn’t remember what he had done before. Afterwards, I realized that, oh, this guy! Great concepts that just don’t pay off.

    I wasn’t totally bored, but disappointed that it wasn’t a memorable thriller I had expected.

    At least I used my free passes to see it.

  11. “Pauls review is way off on this movie, go see it. It’s very good.”

    “Your review is wrong. This movie was terrible.”

    LOL. :-P


  12. Incredibly unrealistic. Absolutely nonsensical, never made sense from start to finish. Might have been improved had the director either been to Antarctica or perhaps read something about it! Totally isolated locations to which people continued to drop in as though their was a bus stop at the front door. People were dying for what? Some sort of radioactive material kept in REI canteens? Heroine takes one look at the crashed airplane and explains everything that happened 40 years before. I saw what happened on the airplane and I still didn’t understand. People were walking out of the near empty theater. I would have left but I kept falling asleep. I’m not sure what the crime was all about but I knew who did it in the first 10 minutes.

  13. I just wanted say if I Hated everything Hollywwod put out I wouldnt have anything to do!

  14. Inaccurate, boring, too much CG and poorly done. The best part was that we left after 25 minutes and got into the next theatre to see Inglorious Basterds.

    The soundtrack uses epic type scores in ho hum scenes. It just makes no sense.

  15. “I posit that Kate Beckinsale engages her (male) audience in the nethers only. She’s attractive, but otherwise utterly uninteresting. The best performance I ever saw out of her was in Ken Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing, back when she was twenty and still had her original nose.”

    Ignorant idiots like you shouldn’t talk about things you know nothing about. I’d suggest you go watch Cold Comfort Farm, Haunted, Emma, Nothing But the Truth, Snow Angels, and Winged Creatures to get a clue, because you obviously have none. Not that you’d admit you were dead wrong, even if you did watch them. Kate Beckinsale is a terrific actress, who hasn’t always chosen the best roles. But no actress is going to give a good performance working with a hack like Dominic Sena.

    And for your information dumbass, Much Ado About Nothing isn’t even close to being among her best performances.

    By the way, she also has the same nose she always had.

    Nothing I hate worse than someone mouthing as if he knows what he’s talking about, when he doesn’t have a clue.

  16. ^ wow

    Ignorant indeed

  17. Wow, someone’s a Kate Beckinsale fan… The only movies I know she was in are Underworld 1 and 2, and Pearl Harbor (she was in Pearl Harbor right??? lol).

  18. I mean obviously I know she’s been in many others, but those are the only ones I could name without pulling up IMDB, lol. That joe guy obviously keeps up with his Beckinsale movies…

  19. Most of the movies he listed are drama roles in crime/drama/thriller movies (or low key drama roles). Like I said before, she’s a decent actress but she needs a “breakout” performance and she hasn’t had one YET.

    Keeping that in mind, she’s getting starring roles and there’s buzz around here. Without that breakout performance a lot of ppl don’t find her engaging.

    At least that’s my opinion.

  20. Psh, weren’t you one of the people saying that Megan Fox can act?? lol :-P

    Maybe not though, I forgot who it was that said that…

  21. This film must really suck if all we can talk about is the lead actresses past films. ;-)

  22. @ Joe

    What part of “No profanity or personal attacks” confused you? Have an opinion, but keep it civil. This isn’t /b/

  23. @ Ken

    Oh, I say that all the time. Megan Fox can’t act. And Michael Bay directs with all the subtlety of a clown hammer to the bread basket.

    And now we’ve completely stopped talking about Whiteout… Weird.

  24. The movie starts off with a -1.5 for showing me 6 naked guys running in the snow at the beginning but then gains 2.5 for showing Beckinsale in her underwear.

  25. LOL 2.5 for undies the movie must really be terrible then

  26. My wife wanted to see this so we went. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. However after the credits roll my mind starts to click and I try to put things in place.

    I dotn pick apart movies but if I find what perceive as a hole I will try to fill it in.

    I had it figured and almost guessed the end… yet something didn’t gel.

    I wont post here right away as I dont know the “spoiler” rules.

  27. @Aknot

    If you have a spoiler, just put ****** SPOILER WARNING ****** before your comment so people will know it’s a spoiler. From what I have been reading about this film, I won’t be seeing it so I would probably read your spoiler.

  28. Fair enough thanks Kahless. With that maybe someone can explain it to me as I may have missed it.

    ****** SPOILER WARNING ******
    So the 3 meteor hunters found the plane. 1 hurt himself. They call the Doc. The Doc and the pilot fly out. On the way back they toss hurt guy out the plane.
    1. Why no record for Doc or the plane going out? I mean if I were the 3 I would have hid what was contained got patched up and came back later.
    2. If the pilot got greedy how did he convince the others (to include Doc) to toss out the extra baggage? Esp if he was flying the plane..?
    3. When did Doc make the switch? Then have enough time to store the items where he did?

    Some can be answered IF the Doc knew before hand what was out there. I cant remember if they said he knew or not.
    ****** SPOILER WARNING ******

    Anyho it is the small stuff I usually get hung up on that make movies like this for me not as good as I think they could have been. IMO..