Kate Beckinsale, Gabriel Macht, Tom Skerritt, Columbus Short, Alex O'Loughlin, Shawn Doyle, Joel S. Keller
Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber, Chad Hayes, Carey Hayes, Greg Rucka (graphic novel), Steve Lieber (graphic novel)
See Your Last Breath.
Kate Beckinsale stars in this white-hot thriller as a U.S. marshal investigating Antarctica's first murder. But as one victim turns into many and daylight grows shorter, the woman must race against the clock and Mother Nature to discover the identity of the killer. Whiteout is based on the graphic novel by Greg Rucka.
$4.915 million on 2745 screens.
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Runtime: 101 min.
Release Date: 1/19/2010
• Additional Scenes
• “The Coldest Thriller Ever” Featurette
• “Whiteout: From Page to Screen” Featurette
• Digital Copy
PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.
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Whiteout [Blu-Ray] (2009)
Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 15, 2010)
Back in 2001, it looked like Kate Beckinsale would become an “A”-list actress in the Sandra Bullock vein. She did action like Pearl Harbor and romantic comedy like Serendipity.
And after that? Beckinsale maintains a decent career, but she’s far from “A”-list status, and despite appearances in big projects like Scorsese’s Aviator, the “B”-list remains a stretch for her. That’s why Bullock still headlines major movies and Beckinsale ends up in “C”-list box office flops such as Whiteout.
Apparently based on a graphic novel, Whiteout takes us to Antarctica. A prologue opens in 1957. Under suspicious circumstances, a Soviet aircraft crashes in the frozen climate.
From there we come to the present day and meet US Marshal Carrie Stetko (Beckinsale). She transferred to the Antarctic gig after a bad experience back home in Florida; she wanted the low-stress job to mentally recover.
Finally ready to head back to the US, Stetko gets stuck in Antarctica when the continent’s first-ever murder takes place. Someone discovers a frozen corpse out in a remote area, and Stetko conducts the investigation. This leads her down a dark path as she attempts to solve the crime and stay alive – all while the viewers also waits to find out what that Soviet plane has to do with any of this.
I’ll say this for Whiteout: it gets some credit for its unique setting. No, it’s not the first thriller to take place in a cold climate, but it takes the most severe weather in the world and uses that side of things as part of the story. The frigid environment added a layer of threat absent from most movies of this sort.
After that, matters become much less interesting. Despite the unusual setting, Whiteout follows a wholly predictable course. Viewers should easily be able to predict various story points and character “turns”. We can tell in advance who will be good or bad, and the plot elements lack any sense of surprise or intelligence. The movie follows a “by the numbers” approach to its material that makes it rather tedious much of the time.
Eventually we don’t even much care about the Soviet plane’s secrets. These act as the flick’s MacGuffin, and I suppose they do their job, as they manage to motivate the plot. If the action that surrounded the MacGuffin worked better, I’d be happy, but everything here seems so rote and perfunctory.
None of the actors manage to elevate the material either. Beckinsale seems vaguely irritated throughout the movie, like she’s not sure how she ended up in such a mediocre crime drama. She uses an awkward American accent and never appears to invest in her character; while she hits the logical notes, none of them come together to make her performance convincing or compelling.
And that goes for the rest of Whiteout as well. I’ve certainly seen crummier thrillers, but I can’t think of many that are quite so dull. We find precious little inspiration or excitement in this turgid crime drama.
The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B+/ Bonus C
Whiteout appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Expect no problems during this strong transfer.
Sharpness always worked well. Even wide shots provided nice clarity, so the whole package offered a good sense of clarity and definition. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement failed to appear. Source flaws also remained absent in this clean presentation.
Given the frozen setting, I expected Whiteout to provide a limited palette. I expected correctly, as the movie stayed with cold tones most of the time. Florida flashbacks gave us a more vibrant setting, but the vast majority of the flick remained chilly and largely monochromatic. When more dynamic hues occurred, they were perfectly fine; the never quite excelled, but they seemed good.
Blacks were positive. They demonstrated nice depth and density, and shadows followed suit. A few low-light shots came across as a little dark, but they usually provided nice clarity. Overall, I found this to be a solid presentation.
In addition, the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack of Whiteout worked well. The soundfield kicked into gear mostly due to weather sequences. Those used the spectrum well, as snow and winds filled the environment in a compelling manner. Planes and a few action scenes also added decent punch, but the weather elements remained the focal point. All of these created a good sense of the frozen setting.
Audio quality was fine. Some of the looped lines didn’t mesh terribly well, but speech still seemed concise and distinctive. Music was full and rich, while effects demonstrated good accuracy. Those elements were always clear and dynamic. Though not the most dazzling soundtrack, I thought the mix filled out the film in a positive way.
How did the picture and sound of this Blu-ray compare to the film’s DVD version? I thought audio was similar, but the visuals demonstrated improvement. Actually, the DVD looked quite good, but it still suffered from that format’s limitations. The Blu-ray provided better sharpness and clarity.
The Blu-ray includes the same extras as the DVD plus a few new ones. I’ll note Blu-ray exclusives with special blue print.
We get two featurettes. The Coldest Thriller Ever runs 12 minutes, two seconds and includes remarks from producers Joel Silver and Susan Downey, co-producer David Gambino, executive producer Don Carmody, supervising location manager Robin Mounsey, production designer Graham “Grace” Walker, supervising head carpenter Tony Parkin, stunt coordinator Steve Lucescu and actors Kate Beckinsale, Alex O’Loughlin, Tom Skerritt, Columbus Short, and Gabriel Macht. “Thriller” discusses the film’s frigid setting and challenges shooting in the cold, sets and locations, stunts and action, and other aspects of the production. We get a few decent notes about the flick, but don’t expect much depth from this short, fairly superficial program.
Whiteout: From Page to Screen goes for 12 minutes, five seconds and features Beckinsale, Gambino, graphic novel author Greg Rucka, and artist Steve Lieber. We learn about the graphic novel’s origins and development as well as aspects of its characters/story and its adaptation to the big screen. “Page” offers a solid take on this subject and gives us a lot of bang for the buck.
Two Deleted Scenes fill a total of four minutes, 13 seconds. The first shows a scientist who complains to Carrie because someone stole his pot, while the second expands on her investigation. Neither adds anything significant or interesting, though I guess the former shows us the monotony of Carrie’s job.
Finally, a second disc throws in a Digital Copy of Whiteout. As always, this lets you put the flick on your computer or various kinds of portable viewing devices. Yay!
Despite an intriguing setting, Whiteout lacks much inspiration. It provides a simple, forgettable thriller that fails to develop into anything memorable or exciting. The Blu-ray offers very good picture and audio but it fails to deliver many supplements. I’d skip this tiresome “adventure”.
To rate this film visit the original review of WHITEOUT