MOVIE: Arctic Blast (2010)

So, I recently saw both The Descendants with George Clooney and The Iron Lady with Meryl Streep.  They were both pretty much exactly what I was expecting (brilliant and quirky for the first, fascinating and somewhat morally complicated for the second).  For some reason, though, possibly that I feel they’ve already been reviewed half to death, I just haven’t felt like writing about either of them.  Suffice it to say, what you’ve already heard:  very true.  Whatever it was.

THIS movie, on the other hand, warrants the full treatment.  Why?  Because it’s SO much more fun to review good-bad movies than it is to review good-good ones.  So much more to mock!  So much more to dissect!  So much more incredibly crappy CGI to marvel over!

Now, obviously, I recently spent some time with my mother — long-time readers of this site will recognize Arctic Blast as a hallmark Meg + Mom movie.  She was down for the weekend a week ago and we found this gem on Netflix streaming and sat down to give it a shot.

As you may be aware, disaster movies always follow the same format, and this one is no exception to the rules.  What makes a disaster movie good-bad versus bad-bad though, is what the writer and director do with the characters, how tolerable the acting is, and whether the science makes ANY sense whatsoever (we will often settle for the science ATTEMPTING to make any sense whatsoever, though).

First: the formula.

Disaster movies usually have the same set two primary characters:  a very smart scientist coupled with either a political or military official. As each film opens, the scientist discovers an impending disaster of some sort and tries to report it, only to be foiled by the official, a character my Mom and I simply refer to as “The Mayor of Amity” character (Jaws fans know what I’m talking about here), who will refuse to accept whatever the scientist has said and claim said scientist is either incompetent or trying to make trouble.

Then, of course, the disaster will strike, the scientist will offer to assist, the Mayor of Amity will tell him they already have it under control, the Mayor’s plan will fail miserably, the Mayor will beg the scientist for help at the last minute, the scientist will put his plan into action, and the world will be saved.

In the case of Arctic Blast, the disaster is a sudden disintegration of the protective ozone layer over Australia, caused by a solar eclipse (which, what??).  The hole lets escape a blast of sub-zero temperatures from the atmospheric level just above it, striking the Earth and flash-freezing anything in its path. When the scientist, Jack Tate (played by Michael Shanks), tries to warn Australian officials, the dude in charge, Winslaw (Bruce Davison from the X-Men movies) tells him what he’s saying is absolutely ridiculous and makes no sense whatsoever (I would tend to agree, but that’s beside the point here).

Then the arctic blast kills two teenagers on a beach, nearly taking Jack’s daughter along with them and making it impossible for Mayor of Amity Winslaw to continue to ignore the impending doom.  As the hole begins to widen and more and more of Australia freezes to death, Winslaw finally tells the public to brace themselves for a devastating “cold snap” (putting it mildly) and has his people draw up a plan involving a multi-rocket strike to close the hole.

WHICH, fails miserably, of course, WHICH leads him to beg Jack to come up with a better plan.  WHICH he does.  WHICH works.  WHICH saves the planet.  Roll credits.

Though it may SOUND like a bad-bad movie, Mom and I rated this one as undeniably good-bad instead.  The acting is passable (Shanks and Davison are both talented dudes, and, of course, Shanks is an Ex-Boyfriend of the Week to boot) and the writer put in just enough science to make it all seem moderately well thought-out, but not so much we were sitting there rolling our eyes and/or pausing the movie periodically to look at each other and go, “HUH?”

All in all, this was an entertaining addition to the ever-growing, never-ceasing, always-popular disaster genre. (“Always popular?” you ask. Yes! A Hollywood Video manager once told us these types of low-budget disaster films were among the most-rented flicks in her store!) And old fans of Stargate SG-1 will enjoy seeing Shanks in a similar role — the gentle, passionate nerd.  Thumbs up!

[Netflix it (available on Watch Now only)]

Cast:  Michael Shanks, Alexandra Davies, Bruce Davison, Indiana Evans


One Response to “MOVIE: Arctic Blast (2010)”

  1. RogerBW Says:

    I think that when this sort of film goes wrong (“When Films Go Bad”?), it’s often because of an overdose of human interest – yes, adorable moppets and divorced couples getting back together are cheaper than CGI tornadoes/sharks/whatnot, but at the end of the day I rented the film to see stuff get broke. (An extreme, because high-budget, example of this was Deep Impact.)

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