Whiteout Blu-ray Review
PictureWhiteout comes to Blu-ray with a solid if unspectacular 1080p High Definition video rendition in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 widescreen. Detail is pretty good throughout, but sharpness appears to waver from shot to shot. It isn't particularly offensive, just a little niggling. However, the quality of the video is certainly good enough to notice the CG elements that invade the proceedings - though again it's nothing wildly intrusive, you just know those damn confusing whiteout snowstorms are 95% effects. The colour scheme is generally fairly limited by the locations, but when the vibrant, unusual colours do rear their heads, the transfer performs admirably - the Aurora Borealis looking particularly spectacular, even if the sunsets aren't quite as special. Black levels are not as deep and solid as you would have hoped for in this kind of thriller, and the dominant white levels are not quite bright enough for Ariel users, clearly signs of some contrast issues. As stated, a solid but unspectacular offering, just about worthy of its high def mantle, but certainly not showcasing the best of what the format can offer.
SoundOn the audio from we get an equally solid Dolby TrueHD track that is, for the most part, pretty good. The surrounds get the chance to do a quality job of creating an immersive, oppressive Antarctic environment, the wind will blow so hard around your living room that you might just end up feeling a shiver (particularly given the recent weather conditions!). The track really does put you in the eye of the storm, although on all other levels it is distinctly average - the dialogue gets reasonable presentation but most definitely does not take centre stage when the storms hit, barely coming across as coherent, and the score is distinctly unmemorable, not aided by the fact that it gets the back seat. The LFE channel offers up some punch under the most extreme condition, but otherwise has little to do. This is a decent enough track however for the material, particularly noteworthy on the effects front, but otherwise unremarkable.
ExtrasWell the blurb says: join Kate Beckinsale, her castmates and the creative team brave disintegrating sets, gale-force winds and -65 degree lunch hours to bring Whiteout to bracing screen life. The reality is that this is a fairly pretty flimsy 12-minute The Coldest Thriller Ever Documentary, which has plenty of interview snippets (damn Kate looks gorgeous), crew comments and behind the scenes footage, but all too many clips from the final film itself. The focus is on the cold, and that's what many talk about, before delving further into the movie production itself.
From Page to Screen is another 12-mnute Featurette which has the writer Greg Rucka, the artist Steve Lieber and various other filmmakers talk about the process of converting the graphic novel into a viable movie. Rucka takes centre stage, and it is particularly interesting hearing about his ideas behind his original story, as well as Lieber's work on creating the characters and their individual looks. Unfortunately I think that the whole lot of them failed to grasp the fact that - ultimately - the process of adapting this excellent graphic novel was not a particularly successful one.
A pair of truly inconsequential Deleted Scenes amount to 5 minutes' worth of pointless extra footage. I haven't come across Deleted Scenes this awful in all my time reviewing - they truly never should have been filmed in the first place.
Finally there's a Digital Copy for those brave (or silly) enough to try and watch snowy blurs on their tiny Ipod screens.
VerdictWhilst not quite irredeemable, and with action set-pieces that are easier to follow on the (relatively) small screen, Whiteout still remains another great Hollywood missed opportunity, where production halts and sideways shifts, plot rewrites and character changes all contributed to the basic dumbing-down of what was a reasonably cerebral, character-driven graphic novel, leaving the end result a trite and predictable thriller that tries to define the words 'standard' and 'average'. Ultimately neither the unusual Antarctic tundra setting, nor the perfection of Kate Beckinsale's ass-double can save this disappointing thriller from distinct mediocrity. On Blu-ray we get a average video and audio presentation, as well as a couple of average Featurettes (the Deleted Scenes are not even worth mentioning) so fans (if you are out there) should consider this a distinctly mediocre purchase. Those not familiar with the original graphic novel should check that out, along with the sequel, before even contemplating watching this 'thriller' and if they - at that stage - still want to investigate further, then perhaps consider a rental first to see whether or not it leaves you in the cold.
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