Blu-ray
Rent It
2.5 stars
List Price
$14.98
Amazon
$9.29 (38%)
3rd Party
$4.69
Usually ships in 24 hours Buy Now»
Overall Grade
2.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
1.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
3.5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
4 Stars
Supplements
0.5 Stars
High-Def Extras
0.5 Stars
Bottom Line
Rent It

Whiteout

Street Date:
January 12th, 2010
Reviewed by:
Nate Boss
Review Date: 1
January 21st, 2010
Movie Release Year:
2009
Studio:
Warner Brothers
Length:
101 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated R
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Fifteen minutes into watching 'Whiteout,' I realized I was unprepared for the viewing. The harsh white snowy climate on screen, coupled with the icy winds blowing through the speakers, sent a chill down my spine (more so than the fact that, being January, it was actually a tad cold). That motivated me to put the film on pause and make a nice steaming bowl of chili. I'm glad I did, as for the remaining hour plus of the film, I had a unique sense of satisfaction, and a fond memory that I'll remember forever. No, the memory wasn't caused by 'Whiteout,' but by that sweet, sweet spicy chili.

Why am I sharing my manly dining habits with you fair readers? To be frank, I got more enjoyment out of my culinary creation than the film I was to view, and the more I talk about the chili, the less I have to discuss 'Whiteout.'

Adapted from the Eisner Award nominated Oni Press comic series of the same name, 'Whiteout' tells the tale of the first recorded murder in Antarctica, the mystery surrounding it, and the efforts to find the culprits and motivation. US Marshal Carrie Stetko (Kate Beckinsale, the 'Underworld Trilogy') was about to hang up her gun, with the station closing down in just three days, as six months of storms are incoming. The discovery of a body with wounds telling of a non-accidental death may jeopardize her plans. A killer is amongst the scientists, and with a fast approaching deadline, not to mention another butchered body, Stetko must solve the mystery, if, that is, she can survive the killer climate and the killer himself.

Ever since reading Rotten Tomatoes' list of the worst reviewed films of the decade, with 'Whiteout' taking the 100th spot in the bottom 100 (with a rotten 7 percent positive review score from the top critics), I wanted to see the film to see if it was really all that bad. Considering what little I knew going into it, I was hoping for a sense of trapped despair against more devious odds(a la 'The Thing'), or a tense nail-biter that can take a drastic, deadly turn in the same vein as '30 Days of Night.' I got neither. Bottom 100, indeed.

Nearly every aspect of this film is a mess. Even the production history of the film was a disaster, with numerous studios possessing the rights for almost ten years, and once the film was finally created, it was shelved for a few years more before finally being "bestowed" upon the viewing public. The casting is solid, with a sexy lead female who can draw in male audiences (and act, to boot!), and a pile of character actors to fill in the rest of the undefined background characters, but the acting itself lives up to the poor reviews. It's impossible to care about any of the characters. They get hurt, who cares? They die? One less bad performance! The script is flawed, free from any real suspense, containing one of the more anti-climactic climaxes in film history. Dominic Sena ('Gone in Sixty Seconds,' 'Swordfish') gets the "credit" for this mess, a film in which it's hard to care for the main character, the plight, the plot, or the conclusion. Basically, the film easily lulls one into a state of complacency. Or anger. It can definitely induce anger.

To be frank, watching 'Whiteout' made me wish for a blackout, so that I could delay the inevitable, having to finish this uninspired, insipid mess. Red blooded males will get what they want early (as the very first scene with Beckinsale has her acting like any other US Marshall, disrobing, taking the time to bend over right in front of the camera, and taking a nice, long, steamy shower), but viewers looking for suspense, coherency, and a decent plot will have to look elsewhere. I was left with two regrets following my viewing of this film: one, that I had just spent nearly two hours of my life that I'd never get back, and two, I should have put some chorizo in that chili.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

The AVC MPEG-4 encode (at 1080p, 2.35:1) afforded 'Whiteout' is hardly a winner, though it gets the job done. From the very first shot, the blacks were superb, the stars in the sky showing nice depth, but there was light banding in the Aurora Borealis below that somewhat killed the nice mood, an omen of things to come in the film. Banding was again present as the plane in the opening sequence descended from the heavens, and would show up very lightly on occasion throughout the rest of the film. Artifacting was a non-issue, as was aliasing. What was an issue was contrast wavering, and the fact that the film would go from sharp to dull and back again in cutaways in the same scene. There is a possibility some of the softness was caused by manipulation after the fact. There is some light haloing to be found, as well. Shadow detail is minimal at best, with some very crushy blacks. This is hardly the ideal film for the high def experience, considering the filming climate (see the special features for more on that!), and, sadly enough, most of the problems in this release come from interior shots, instead.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

The audio for 'Whiteout' defaults to the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless mix. For those incapable of getting lossless sound in their receivers, a Dolby Digital 5.1 track will play instead.

The dialogue for the film was a bit difficult, as it was for the most part clear, but occasionally drowned out by even light atmospheric effects. The bass levels for the film started strong, particularly in the score, and seemingly faded away. Rear presence was nice, with plenty of activity hitting the non-front speakers, and was a major part of the best effect in this film: wind chill. The frigid, icy winds run through the room like you're there freezing your ass off alongside Beckinsale, and they're as believable as they are constant. Gunshots hit rears nicely, but lacked any real pop or depth. A solid, passable track, for a film quite the opposite of said adjectives.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

The lone extra on the DVD release is also included on the Blu-ray, in glorious standard definition.

  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 4 min) - A scene involving the oft-hilarious reporting of one's stolen weed highlights this thankful pile of omissions.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

The Blu-ray includes a few exclusive extras, though they're too short to amount to much, no matter how good they are.

  • The Coldest Thriller Ever (HD, 12 min) - Cast and crew discuss working under the harshest of conditions, from precautions, scares, fears, and anecdotes about working in such an environment, to scouting locations and set creation. A solid feature that gives some respect to the work in the film, bad as it is (possibly explaining as much).
  • Whiteout: From Page to Screen (HD, 12 min) - The cast and the comic creators discuss adapting the comic to film. Enjoyable for the focus on the creation of the comic, this is a great feature for fans of the original source material.
  • Digital Copy - A PC and Mac compatible digital copy of the film is housed on disc two. The digital copy code doubles for a Warner Bonus Blu code, for the buy 5, get 1 free site.

Final Thoughts

If ever there were a case study for underwhelming films that are all scenery and no substance, 'Whiteout' would be on the list. The only Beckinsale scenery happens early on, after that, the lovely lass is buried beneath layers and layers of heavy clothing, killing the only thing the film really had going for it. This Blu-ray sports good audio and video, but a pathetic pile of extras. Rent it, if you must, Beckinsale fans.

Technical Specs

  • Blu-ray
  • BD25 Single Layer Disc
  • Region Free

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/AVC MPEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 2.35:1

Audio Formats

  • English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
  • French Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH, Spanish, French

Supplements

  • Alternate Scenes

Exclusive HD Content

  • The Coldest Thriller Ever Story
  • Freeze Frame: From Page to Screen
  • Digital Copy

All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about our gear.

Puzzled by the technical jargon in our reviews, or wondering how we assess and rate HD DVD and Blu-ray discs? Learn about our review methodology.

List Price
$14.98
Amazon
$9.29 (38%)
3rd Party
$4.69
Usually ships in 24 hours Buy Now»

Related reviews