Tuesday, February 21, 2012



John Krasinski: local television news reporter Adam Carlson
Ahmaogak Sweeney: native Alaskan 11-year-old Nathan
Drew Barrymore: his ex-girlfriend, Greenpeace volunteer Rachel Kramer
Kristen Bell: L.A. television news reporter Jill Jerard
Ted Danson: oil executive J.W. McGraw, President of Alaskan Oil Corporation
Dermot Mulroney: Alaska Army National Guard Colonel Scott Boyer
Vinessa Shaw: presidential aide Kelly Meyers

This family nature story is based on an actual event that took place in October 1988 (although the producers have taken a few liberties as noted below in the Nitpick section) when three gray whales got trapped in the ice near Point Barrow, Alaska. With a straight forward timeline, we get to see the frantic efforts against-the-clock to rescue these animals as winter approaches.

It’s interesting to see the various agendas the participants had but in the end the feel-good message is that everybody sets aside their petty differences and comes together in a common purpose.

for some strong language.

• Nathan takes one look at a woman and states “she’s hot”. These events took place in 1988 about 20 years before that colloquial expression became part of the lexicon of descriptive terms.
• The whales were given Inuit names Putu, Siku, and Kanik and English names Bonnet, Crossbeak, and Bone not Fred, Wilma and Bam Bam.
• The two Skycrane helicopters did not tow the barge they planned on using because it was frozen solid in the ice. Instead they repeatedly dropped a 5-ton concrete pillar in an effort to break up the ice.
• If your eyelashes freeze over just put your hand over your eye until the ice melts and you can open your eye. There is no need to resort to more unconventional methods.
• The lowest recorded temperature was 30-degrees below zero, not 50.
• When Rachel dons scuba gear she puts on a pair of gloves and plunges into the hole but in the underwater shots she no longer is wearing gloves but they reappear when she surfaces.
• Winter had not yet set in so the ice was only four or five inches thick not the ten inches or so when seen on edge.
• Water pumps were used to keep the water moving to prevent the ice from forming. Underwater heaters can not raise the sea temperature even one degree and so would be useless.
• The authorities would not allow the rescuers and the international media covering the event to remain standing directly in the path of a huge icebreaker intent on breaking though to them.

Stihl chainsaws is one of the most blatant product placement campaigns ever, lacking the subtly usually associated with this form of marketing with close-ups of their product every chance they get.

Stick around for the end credits when the photos of the real people are paired with their movie counterpart.

Sunday, February 19, 2012



Denzel Washington: ex-CIA agent Tobin Frost
Ryan Reynolds: low level CIA agent Matt Weston
Brendan Gleeson: his boss David Barlow
Liam Cunningham: MI6 operative Alec Wade
Vera Farmiga: Catherine Linkater
Sam Shepard: CIA Director Harlan Whitford
Robert Patrick: CIA interrogation squad team leader Daniel Kiefer

They have squandered the talents (and good looks) of an A-list cast with a clunker. What a mess, literally, because it’s shot almost entirely with a hand-held camera resulting in jerky indistinct images flitting by. The editing it seems was done trying not to have any one scene appear for more than two seconds, three at most.

Despite this meat-cleaver style of editing too much has been left in with the result it goes on for almost 2 hours. That’s far too long for a movie that has very little in the way of a script with hardly any character development relying instead on non-stop action. It simply charges ahead at breakneck speed without much regard to telling a story, one that’s been done better by others many times before. Typical of this genre, it’s purposely confusing so you wind up scratching your head wondering “what the heck was that all about?”.

One more thing: bring ear protection because everything is loud, really loud and if you have something to say to your neighbour be prepared to shout. Better still: skip the whole thing and don’t waste two hours of your time.

for violence and profanity.

Matt winds up with a scratch that looks like railway tracks near the temple on the right side of his face. Throughout the film it changes from a single scratch to a double one.