Arctic [Blu-ray]
R0 - Australia - Umbrella Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (9th June 2019).
The Film

"Arctic" (2018)

Overgård (played by Mads Mikkelsen) survives a plane crash but is stranded in the middle of the Arctic landscape. With no radio communication, very low visibility, he tries to do what he can to survive as well as call for help. He sends S.O.S. signals in different locations every day, fishes for trout, and tries to keep as warm as possible with the limited resources. A sign of hope comes when he finally sees a helicopter, but it unfortunately crashes due to strong winds. The pilot dies but the copilot (played by Maria Thelma) barely survives, with a severe abdomen injury. Overgård is able to get more supplies including some food and a sled, but he must now fight to find a way back to civilization much quicker as the injured woman cannot survive for much longer.

"Arctic" may have a few characters, but it is almost entirely a one man show with Mikkelsen out in the vast cold environment. The scenes with the rescued copilot are done with very few words as she has almost no strength to speak and is lying still for the entire time unable to walk. There are probably less than twenty lines of dialogue besides yelling or grunting, and what captures everything is Mikkenlsen's abilities as an actor with body language, facial expressions, and survival tactics in the extreme snowy environment. As Mikkelsen has stated, it was the most difficult shoot in his career. For many actors, remembering dialogue is the easiest part of the job. But when that is taken away and having to rely on all the other senses, it makes the viewers more aware of everything else the actor does. From the way he reacts to seeing a polar bear's footprint, the way his eyes twitch when he wakes up with the watch alarm, his sense of touch when he sees another human being for the first time in a long time are key elements to making the audience aware of the harshness and what is at stake. Very similar to the one man survival films "All Is Lost", which dealt with a man lost at sea and "127 Hours", which dealt with a man stuck in a canyon, "Arctic" is similar in nature to the former as it doesn't rely on flashbacks, and lays entirely on what is happening in real time. The audience is never shown the actual crash, but only the aftermath and most likely some time has passed if one is to determine from the character's beard length.

The film is writer/director Joe Penna's feature film debut, though he has been creating content on YouTube since 2006 as MysteryGuitarMan, being one of the most subscribed Brazilian channels on the site. The story of "Arctic" itself is not at all original or groundbreaking nor is it one that brings surprises to the survival genre. It is certainly well made with the structure and Mikkelsen's performance that is captivating and honest but in comparison to action oriented survival films such as "The Grey" or "Jungle" it falls into a different category with minimalism as the core.

"Arctic" debuted at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival where it received a ten minute standing ovation. It was screened at many other festivals worldwide the same year and subsequently released theatrically in many countries in 2019. Made on a fairly small budget of $2 million as a US/Icelandic coproduction, the film has grossed almost double its cost, though it is not considered a major hit. Critics were kind, but it was not an awards contender or winner at the various festivals it was screened at. A great character piece that will surely entice viewers, "Arctic" is an excellent directorial debut from Penna.

Note this is a region 0 NTSC DVD

Video

Umbrella Entertainment presents the film in the theatrical 2.35:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement in the NTSC format. Obviously white is the most common visual element with the snow and the clouds in the skies and the transfer is a very good one at that. Shot digitally, the transfer is basically flawless, with the muted colors looking very natural in the snowy environment. Detail is sharp and there are no errors in the transfer to be mentioned. A solid transfer from Umbrella Entertainment.

The film's runtime is 97:32.



















Audio

English Dolby Digital 5.1
The original 5.1 track is presented here. The minimal ambient score by Joseph Trapaneze is excellent by utilizing the 5.1 soundscape, while not overbearing or underscoring the rest of the soundtrack. Voices are not the most clear due to Mikkelsen mumbling at times
due to the cold but they are mostly intelligible.

There are no subtitles for the main feature.

Extras

Unfortunately no extras are on the disc. The film starts when the disc is inserted and stops when the film ends. Although not on the disc, the Australian trailer is embedded below.



The film has currently been released on DVD and Blu-ray in America by Universal, which includes some deleted scenes and two very short featurettes.

Packaging

The packaging states region 4 but this is in fact a region 0 disc, playable worldwide.

Overall

"Arctic" is an excellent survival film that even with almost no dialogue, is commanded absolutely brilliantly by Mads Mikkelsen's performance. It may not add anything new to the genre but it's absolutely fascinating as it is heart pounding.

The Film: B+ Video: A Audio: A Extras: F- Overall: C

 


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