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Other than its frigid location, WHITEOUT ($36) plays more like generic police procedural hitting the television airwaves, instead of film adapted from the graphic novel Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber. Sure, placing the story in Antarctica brings a whole lot of visual interest to the tale, not to mention introducing some unusual obstacles for the characters to surmount, but on a whole, WHITEOUT tends to be a bit too predictable for its own good. Of course, I want to preface my last statement with the fact that I never read the graphic novel upon which WHITEOUT is based. However, I think my exposure to too much C.S.I. has increased my deductive skills, as I found myself able to pick out the bad guys long before the story’s protagonist.

WHITEOUT stars Kate Beckinsale as U.S. Deputy Marshal Carrie Stetko, who has been assigned to a base in Antarctica for the last two years. Nearing the end of her tour, a body is discovered out on the ice, and Carrie finds herself beginning the continent’s first-ever murder investigation. As the body count rises, UN operative Robert Pryce (Gabriel Macht) joins Carrie in her investigation, with the murderer's trail leading them to a downed Soviet cargo plane, which has been buried under the ice for the last fifty years. Circumstances then force an evacuation of the Antarctic base, which leaves our heroes stranded with the killer, just as a devastating storm hits the area… thus creating a climax in the whiteout conditions of the film’s title. The cast of WHITEOUT also features Tom Skerritt, Columbus Short, Alex O'Loughlin, Shawn Doyle and Joel Keller.

Warner Home Video has made WHITEOUT available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. In general, the 1080p presentation is fairly pleasing, and raises no major concerns, but I am going to nitpick just a bit. Image sharpness and detail is somewhat inconsistent, but I think has a lot to do with how the mixture of live action and digital elements has been integrated to make their appearance a bit more seamless. Since many of the films exteriors were shot under inhospitable conditions, weather factors also play into the film’s visual inconsistencies. Those factors aside, there are a few interior shots where the picture looks a bit manipulated, even though there are no visual effects present. Perhaps there is too much temptation to make the actors look better, when the film hits the Digital Intermediate stage… Colors are somewhat subdued with all the appropriate bleakness of the film’s wintry setting. Blacks are deep and the whites appear pure. Contrast has an edginess, but the level of shadow detail is fine. The elements from which WHITEOUT has been mastered are free from flaws. Grain is a bit variable, which I would attribute to the digital manipulation of the picture.

WHITEOUT is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. Sonically, WHITEOUT is more consistent than it is visually, and provides for a fairly impressive ride. The sound design offers up a whirlwind of sound during the film’s climax, and can be rather impressive any time that weather factors into the story. In general, sound effects are well placed, with all of the outlying channels being well utilized for panning between channels, especially when there are gunshots or airplane engine sounds present. Additionally, the sound design delivers good levels of ambience to help create convincing acoustic environments during the less busy passages. Thanks to the lossless encode, fidelity is quite strong, which bolsters sound effects, as well as the musical component. The bass channel is deep and forceful. Other than a couple of minor instances, dialogue is easy to understand. English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. Featurettes and other programs include the following: The Coldest Thriller Ever (twelve minutes) and From Page To Screen (twelve minutes). A couple of Deleted Scenes close out the standard extras. A Digital Copy of the film is also provided.

Despite a certain level of predictability, WHITEOUT remains a fairly entertaining thriller, which should attract an audience on home video. The Blu-ray presentation is fairly solid, my nitpicks notwithstanding.



Whiteout [Blu-ray] (2009)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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