Thursday, September 24, 2009


Whiteout was originally a graphic novel created by writer Greg Rucka and artist Steve Lieber for Oni Press. The film version directed by Dominic Sena (Gone In Sixty Seconds, Swordfish) adheres surprisingly very close to the plot of the comic book. There are a few changes in story and character, but they are all frankly expected and necessary for adapting the work from one medium to another. Yet there was something about how Rucka built up the suspense on each page and how Lieber picked a specific image frozen in time to showcase (because after all, a comic book is simply the textual aspect of a novel and the aesthetic aspect of a film). Whiteout is much more special because of the advantages of the comic book medium that Rucka chose to use. On the other hand, as a film, Whiteout is something that is conventional and nothing all that special. Under the influence of other filmmakers, perhaps something interesting could be achieved but instead we are treated with a murder tale that is highly convenient. 

The whole film is practically the pilot episode for a procedural drama that one would find on CBS. Carrie Stetko (Kate Beckinsale) is a U.S. marshal working as the supervisory agent at a science research base in Antarctica. Her job there has been routine until a graphic murder is committed. We are treated with flashbacks and slow motion, the kind that we see Gil Grissom or Horatio Caine walk around to on the CSI shows. The villain is apparently made all the more scary because he walks around with a pick-axe (and Stetko doesn't feel like shooting him I guess). The original story when published as a monthly felt reasonable yet here I can't help but feel that some of the factoids about Antarctica are incorrect. I'm pretty sure that visibility would be significantly less (as Tom Skerritt's character points out, but I guess he was just speaking to pass time) and I'm also sure that Kate Beckinsale's lips would be chapped from the snow. In fact, the beauty of Kate Beckinsale is one of the few reasons to see this film, past that it is truly a predictable experience and a huge disappointment for those who've come to see Stetko as one of the most formidable and independent female characters in comic books.

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