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A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

Whiteout (Digital Copy Special Edition) [Blu-ray]

 

(Dominic Sena, 2009)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: Dark Castle

Blu-ray: Warner Home Video

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:02:49.153

Disc Size: 22,927,722,735 bytes

Feature Size: 20,184,317,952 bytes

Video Bitrate: 20.98 Mbps

Chapters: 23

Case: Standard Blu-ray case with slipcase

Release date: January 19th, 2010

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: VC-1 Video

 

 

Audio:

Dolby TrueHD Audio English 1587 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1587 kbps / 16-bit (AC3
Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), English, French, Spanish, none

 

Extras:

• The Coldest Thriller Ever Story – in HD (12:02)

• Whiteout: From Page to Screen – in HD (12:05)

• Additional Scenes – in SD (4:14)

• Digital Copy Disc

 

 

The Film: 5
I was a bit surprised when I learned that Whiteout derives from a graphic novel about a series of homicides in Antarctica, a place noted for its unusually low crime rate – not that comics require superheroes or stomach-turning horror, and not that the movie version has either. In the Bonus Feature "Whiteout: From Page to Screen" we can see how the black and white drawings made the transition to the monochromatic images of the Antarctic. The thing is (said John Carpenter when faced with his remake): you still have to come up with a screenplay, and that's where Whiteout brings to mind the correction liquid that bears its name.

From its cliché-ridden script, to its ill-advised dependence on a singe flashback, to its leaps of investigatory logic, Whiteout fails to keep our attention. Perhaps I've just been watching too many criminal investigation television shows, but how U.S. Marshall Carrie Stetko derives her conclusions based on the evidence at hand wouldn't pass muster for the average TV viewer these days. And while I acknowledge the ferocity of the "whiteout" pursuits, somehow I couldn't allow for the perpetrator to be in so many places so conveniently, and without being noticed.

Kate Beckinsale has exchanged her spandex and leather (Underworld and Van Helsing) for a fur coat here, but for an intelligent actress she still hasn't found a vehicle to suit her talents promised in A&E's 1996 television rendering of Jane Austen's Emma, not that she needs to go all English literary on us again (Kate was also Hero to Robert Sean Leonard's Claudio in Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing and Flora in the BBC's Cold Comfort Farm.) In a way her beauty and sex appeal works against her since it is too often expected– as it is here - that she be seen in her skin. It doesn't do anything for this movie, however.


 

Image: 6/8  NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

I can understand how filming in subzero temperatures (ha!) must take its toll on the equipment and make for the possibility of scene to scene inconsistency, so I can't fault the transfer for its general lack of sharpness and resolution. There are a couple of indoor shots of remarkable clarity and natural color that leap off the screen almost out of context, but more often textures lack detail. but the outdoor shots, whether in still air or blasting wind, are bathed in a ice-blue light that drops our body temperature down a degree or two just to witness it. I found no distracting transfer issues, though edge enhancement can be detected now and then (whatever for?)

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 7/7
I don't see how it's possible to obtain realistic audio tracks in the kind of conditions that the climax of this movie presumes. So it is only reasonable to assume and expect that all will be made right in post-production. So where, I ask, is the surround mix that should immerse us in a state of near suffocation in 100 mph winds of swirling snow and ice, or the Antarctic equivalent of an earthquake, or even the heft of a healthy crash of a cargo plane into the ice? On the other hand, interiors of various sizes and shapes are convincingly realized. The dialogue is clear enough, usually, not that the script made for agreeable listening.

 

Operations: 6
I've encountered this evil before: there is no door back to the main menu from the Extra Features page. Why is that I wonder?

 

Extras: 3
Without a commentary track we are left with two twelve-minute production featurettes: "The Coldest Thriller Ever" looks at what it was like filming in the Artic Tundra "braving disintegrating sets, gale-force winds and –65 degree lunch hours." In the other segment, graphic novelist Greg Rucka and artist Steve Lieber talk about bringing their novel to the screen – like two kids in a candy store, they are.


 

 

 

Bottom line: 4
I am sorry to report that the movie is drivel. It's too bad, really, because Antarctica deserves better, and so does Kate. The image isn't bad, but it's far from demo-worthy despite some gorgeous shots of the landscape. The audio mix is serviceable but hardly does justice to the elements.

Leonard Norwitz
January 10th, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.


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