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Joe Penna
Mads Mikkelsen, Maria Thelma Smáradóttir, Tintrinai Thikhasuk
Writing Credits:
Joe Penna, Ryan Morrison

A man stranded in the Arctic after a helicopter crash must decide whether to remain in the relative safety of his makeshift camp or to embark on a deadly trek through the unknown.

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DVS
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 98 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 4/30/2019

• Deleted Scenes
• “The Story Behind Arctic” Featurette
• “Mads Mikkelsen” Featurette
• Previews
• DVD Copy


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Arctic [Blu-Ray] (2019)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 27, 2019)

A new entry in the genre related to stories of survival in harsh circumstances, 2019’s Arctic introduces us to Overgård (Mads Mikkelsen). A plane crash leaves him stranded in the Arctic.

When a helicopter materializes to rescue him, it bites the dust as well. This kills the pilot (Tintrinai Thikhasuk) and leaves a female passenger (Maria Thelma Smáradóttir) severely injured.

Overgård finds himself with a dilemma, as he needs to decide whether to stay in the relatively safe camp and hope for another rescue attempt or to head off in search of assistance. Overgård chooses the latter, a challenge made more complicated by the woman’s dire health.

As I implied at the start, the survival genre doesn’t come as anything new, but it remains open to dramatic possibilities. Indeed, what comes with more potential than literal life or death tales such as this?

On the other hand, many films of this sort suffer due to the absence of an extended collection of characters. Most concentrate on a small group of participants, and an extended story of some dude on his own can wear thin before long.

When done well, the genre entertains, such as with 2000’s Cast Away. When done poorly, the genre becomes a tedious drag.

Though I wouldn’t deem it a “tedious drag”, Arctic can tax patience, mainly via its slow pace. To some degree, I appreciate these choices, as the film doesn’t ladle out gratuitous action just to placate the audience.

This means not much happens for a while. We go more than 10 minutes before we hear a line of dialogue, and much of the first act consists of Overgård’s monotonous daily routine.

When the helicopter crashes, we find a brief infusion of drama, but it dissipates pretty quickly. Through the movie’s midway point, we mainly see the basics of survival in the wild, without much to quicken pulses.

Roughly halfway through the flick, Overgård decides to take the risky journey, and this opens up the story to greater drama – in theory. However, Arctic still lacks a lot of drama, as we get occasional flashes of danger but not much.

Again, I appreciate these decisions in an objective sense, as they represent a story that boasts more realism than the flashier version one might expect. However, the absence of much overt tension tends to make this a slow ride.

Granted, there’s inherent tension related to the circumstances, as those obviously create a dire situation. However, the movie doesn’t manage to convey a lot of true drama along the way.

Some of this comes from the fact that Arctic essentially offers a one-man show. The female remains unconscious most of the time, so we get little dialogue or interaction.

At least Tom Hanks talked to a volleyball and James Franco got to monologue into a video camera! Without any kind of involved secondary character or a release valve for dialogue, Arctic can feel sluggish.

Mikkelsen conveys his role’s dire straits pretty well, as he embraces the despair and desperation without overacting. He does his best to carry the show on his own.

I can’t blame Mikkelsen for the movie’s basic lack of impact, as he acts the role as intended. The manner in which the filmmakers tell the story becomes the issue, as we find a survival tale without much to capture the viewer’s attention.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus D+

Arctic appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. As expected, this became a strong visual presentation.

Sharpness worked well, as I detected only minor signs of softness in some wider shots. Instead, the movie remained accurate and concise most of the time. I witnessed no jagged edges or moiré effects, and both edge haloes and print flaws remained absent.

In terms of colors, Arctic went with a chilly white/blue-oriented palette that matched the snowy setting. These hues made sense for the story and the Blu-ray replicated them well.

Blacks seemed deep and dark, while shadows appeared smooth and clear. At all times, this turned into a pleasing image.

Though not an action extravaganza, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Arctic provided occasional kick, mainly due to the involvement level during its many exterior scenes. Those used the frigid weather to create a sense of environment that engulfed us in the material.

Music also used the five channels in an active way, and the smattering of more action-oriented scenes brought the mix to life in a vivid manner. In particular, the helicopter crash worked well, and other segments boasted nice activity and involvement.

Audio quality excelled, with music that seemed vivid and full. Speech appeared natural and concise, while effects boasted terrific range and impact.

Low-end was tight and deep as well. The soundtrack brought out the sonic material in a satisfying manner.

Five Deleted Scenes fill a total of six minutes, 58 seconds. These tend to focus on more of the monotony of Overgård’s life, though a couple add a little drama. None seem memorable – especially not the sluggish “Fishing Lures”.

Two promotional featurettes follow: The Story Behind Arctic (1:52) and Mads Mikkelsen (1:31). Across these, we get comments from co-writer/director Joe Penna and actor Mads Mikkelsen.

We hear about story choices, influences, cast/performances and some production issues. “Mads” seems forgettable, but “Story” brings a smattering of good notes.

The disc opens with ads for Hotel Mumbai, Teen Spirit, Serenity (2019) and Fighting With My Family. No trailer for Arctic appears here.

As a survival tale, Arctic scores points for its refusal to throw out gratuitous titillation, but it loses points for its general lack of tension. Slow and somewhat monotonous, the film only occasionally boasts actual drama. The Blu-ray brings good picture and audio along with minor supplements. Though I respect its choices, Arctic leaves me a bit bored.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.8 Stars Number of Votes: 5
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