Arctic Blu-ray Review
All is Frost
Arctic Film Review
Mads Mikkelsen struggles to survive in this very effective arctic variant on The Martian, Gravity, The Revenant, and All is Lost.Survival movies are a great little sub-genre, with 2013 and 2015 providing some tremendous entries, including space and sea survival in 2013's Gravity and All is Lost, respectively, surviving Mars in 2015's The Martian and basically surviving everything in that same year's The Revenant. Aside from being utterly gripping, they are normally also superior showcases of solo performances, with lead actors forced to get back to basics to convey their characters, oftentimes by themselves and thus with little to no dialogue, with all of them winning various awards as a result.
It's not been all that long since we were trapped in the snow following a plane crash - 2017's The Mountain Between Us saw Idris Elba and Kate Winslet in a whole lot of trouble - but whilst that film (possibly due to its source novel) muddied the waters with far too much melodrama, 2018's Arctic - finally making it to UK shores now - keeps things much more simple; as much a showcase of Mads Mikkelsen's captivating lead performance as All is Lost was of Redford's one-man-show at sea, eschewing budget or effects to make for a compelling foray into the freezing middle of nowhere with seemingly no way out.
Arctic is pure Mikkelsen, as his character proves his staggering resourcefulness almost in the face of any adversity
The story kicks off in media res, with Mikkelsen's survivor quite some time into his stay in the middle of the arctic, showcasing an admirable degree of skill in keeping himself alive, with a perfectly timed day - his alarm tells him when to move to the next location - which alternates between fishing, signalling for help, and mapping out the terrain. Even his keenly planned routine can't survive the the randomness of nature, however, when a polar bear starts circling his domain, and an attempted rescue goes terribly wrong, pushing him out of his relative comfort zone, and leaving him with no choice but to fight with every last breath for his survival.
Arctic is Brazilian filmmaker Joe Penna's directorial debut, and it's an accomplished effort, avoiding almost any kind of exposition, and instead relying on a formidable lead performance from Mikkelsen, an often underrated actor who has had some bigger roles (memorable villains in Doctor Strange and Casino Royale, as well as a fantastic, different take on the famed killer in Hannibal) but somehow still deserves some better leads (The Hunt was well-regarded, The Salvation completely ignored, and Netflix's Polar a waste of his talents). Arctic is pure Mikkelsen, as his character proves his staggering resourcefulness almost in the face of any adversity. Whilst it may be hard to do anything desperately new with the sub-genre, there are some nice twists that have the desired effect, and more than enough fresh ideas to engage you for a taut and punishing 90 minutes.
Arctic Blu-ray PictureSignature Entertainment bring Arctic to Region B-locked UK Blu-ray complete with an excellent 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation, framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen.
An excellent video presentation
Set against the snowy and harsh Arctic plains, there's some wonderful vistas on offer here, with exceptional detail bringing the physical damage, wounds, and crash debris to life; Mikkelsen's lead is really put through the wringer, and you can see every incremental degree of damage he takes in his grizzled visage, whilst clothing has a wonderful level of texturing to it. The colour scheme is surprisingly strong given the inherent limitations of the setting, with some striking clothing pops (and flare blasts) to cut through the ice white backdrop. With strong black levels offering a solid backbone, it's an excellent video presentation.
Arctic Blu-ray SoundArctic is also afforded a particularly immersive audio accompaniment
Arctic is also afforded a particularly immersive audio accompaniment, of the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 variety, which manages to bring both the treacherous wide open expanse and the surprising claustrophobia of being largely alone into play when it comes to this mix, picking up on growls of bears and the whooshing of helicopter blades, whilst flares spit and fizzle, and ice snow crunches underfoot. The surrounds are used to veritably whip up a storm, but even the harsh arctic winds give an almost constant background to the track, whilst the score is used effectively to heighten the tension and enhance the scale of the survival affair, particularly as cameras pan out and helicopter shots remind you that you are truly in the middle of nowhere. An excellent audio track.
Arctic Blu-ray ExtrasA few Deleted Scenes, a Featurette, and an Interview with star Mads Mikkelsen comprise the decent enough selection of extras
Arctic Blu-ray VerdictA showcase of Mads Mikkelsen's captivating lead performance, eschewing budget or effects to make for a compelling foray into the freezing middle of nowhere with seemingly no way out
Signature Entertainment bring this great little directorial debut to UK shores, boasting excellent video and audio, as well as a few nice extras. It comes recommended.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £15.00
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