'Whiteout' Review


Boy, I would love to have been in this development meeting:

"Hey, boss!  We've got the next great project for Kate Beckinsale!  It'll take advantage of all her strengths: you know, she's beautiful, a decent actress, a kick-ass action star, and if we dress her in skintight leather it's enough to keep an overripe franchise like Underworld going strong forever."

"So what's the idea?"

"We'll put her in a murder mystery-slash-treasure hunt where we give away all the mystery in the first ten minutes…"

"Go on…"

"Then we'll set it in Antarctica so Kate has to wear a parka that's so huge and thick you couldn't tell the difference between her and Jack Black!"

"Hmm, I'm not sure…"

"But we'll open with a gratuitous scene where she strips to her undies and takes a steamy shower."

"I like it…"

"Then you'll never see her in anything even remotely sexy again, but by that point the audience will be too confused trying to figure out what the monster is."

"The monster?"

"Yeah, we'll keep hinting that everyone's in danger from either a super alien monster or an axe-wielding serial killer..."

"Are they?"

"Ah, no."

"And the treasure…"

"We'll hint it's a super radioactive weapon, or an alien energy force, or some other amazing prize."

"And is it?"

"Ah, no.  It's actually kind of lame, but we won't reveal that to the very end."

"So what's this movie called?"


"What's that mean?  Is she a typist?"

"No, it's based on one of those graphic novels that everyone seems to make movies out of these days.  You know, 300, Sin City, Watchmen.  I'm not sure what it means.  But it's a graphic novel, so you know the kids will love it."

"Sounds expensive.  Who's going to pilot this ship?"

"This video director guy, did a lot of Janet Jackson stuff."                                     

"Keeping it hip, I get it."

"Then we'll sell it by making the movie seem like a cross between a science-fiction horror fest like John Carpenter's The Thing and super weather thriller like The Day After Tomorrow!"                                                

"Brilliant!  Here's 20 million.  Go make us a blockbuster!"


Whiteout is a thriller with no thrills, directed by the man who gave us "Rhythm Nation" and the excrementally bad Swordfish.  It features a villain so vicious that when he's finally found out, he just grabs a bottle of scotch and walks out into the frozen night to die (I'm not kidding).  And the script is so weak it includes completely unnecessary PA announcements in case you missed a plot point due to boredom (they reminded me of Airplane's "The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only"…but not as funny).  By the time Kate blurts out "You've got to be kidding me", you're in total agreement.

To recap: no mystery, no monsters, no science fiction, no super weather storm effects, no mind-bending treasure, no climax and no ending. 

The only thing that doesn't ring false about this film is the trailer's tag line:  "Nature isn't the only thing to fear."

That's true.  You can fear losing 101 minutes of your life that you'll never get back.