“We don’t need no stinking tagline!”
Directed by Victor Garcia
Starring Dean Cain, Lucy Brown and Steven Waddington
In 1825, the HMS Fury and HMS Hecla are frozen in ice during William Parry’s second Arctic expedition. After witnessing a meteor falling to earth, Parry and his second in command James Clark Ross encounter a being seemingly made of ice which strikes Parry before being driven off with gunfire.
Two centuries (give or take) later, Ross’s descendant JC Ross (Cain) is searching for the lost Fury, as part of an arctic expedition composed of the usual bickering collection of misfits (although, fair play, this may not be an inaccurate depiction of the kind of people who opt to be confined to a limited area for six months with thirty strangers ‘for science’). Uncovering the ship, they discover the trapped creature, which begins killing the team members. As their numbers dwindle, the team look to JC, cute medic Sedna (Brown) and lead scientist Hasslein (Waddington) for answers.
What’s wrong with it?
This is another of those cheap and cheerful SyFy jobs, with poor CGI and not much plot. It’s a pretty standard stalk and slay, with about the only surprise being that one of the two black guys makes it (less an arm) after they go out to fetch fuel. The ending is pretty much the ending of John Carpenter’s The Thing, but without the atmosphere.
JC is searching for the Fury to solve the mystery of his great-grandfather’s missing ship, but Ross lived for another 37 years, and Parry for another 30, so what exactly was the mystery supposed to have been? Even leaving aside history, the film has them escaping and returning to civilisation, and then… what? What did they tell the Admiralty back in Pompey?
Parry: And then we shot a walrus and we came home. The end.
Admiral: Very good. One last thing, gentlemen; what about the Fury?
Ross: The what, sir?
Admiral: The Fury. One of the two vessels we sent you out in. Fifty percent of the vessels we sent out, in fact.
Parry: Oh, the Fury. Right.
Ross: Right. Yeah, we lost it.
Parry: Just put it down and left it for five minutes.
Ross: Certainly didn’t blow it up to trap an alien ice monster or anything; nor did it become irretrievably icebound or something entirely rational like that.
Parry: It’s a total mystery that will not remotely plague our descendants and lead them to an ill-advised attempt to recover the ship.
Ross: And I’m sure my uncle won’t ever recover our supplies to help feed his own expedition in later years*.
Also, since the creature turns out to want heat to make it evaporate (or rather sublime, as it is never liquid), what good is blowing it up? How can you trap a gas in the rubble?
And why is Hasslein killed when he decompresses the lab from what appears to be a sealed control chamber? What kind of design is that?
What’s right with it?
The actors a a pretty good batch. Cain’s boyish good looks have not held up well, but he does earnest well, and Brown (from Primeval) and Waddington (playing against type as a quiet boffin) provide solid support.
Even if their history wasn’t great, I’ve learned so much more about Arctic exploration while writing this review.
How bad is it really?
As with most SyFy fare that isn’t by The Asylum, Arctic Predator is good fun, without ever being anything more.
Best bit (if such there is)?
To prevent a man turning to ice, Sedna needs to amputate his arm. She asks for a blade from the kitchen and someone comes back with a meat cleaver. In an Arctic base, who is butchering whole carcasses? Are they secretly living on locally sourced seal and polar bear.
What’s up with…?
- The creature controlling deuterium oxide? Oh, wait… apparently deuterium is comparatively abundant in the composition of Saturn and Jupiter, which is where they said it had probably come from. Kudos, movie; you win this one!
- The mystery drummed up over the fate of James Clarke Ross and William Parry, who like Howard Carter, discoverer of Tutankhamen’s tomb, died peacefully in their beds at a ripe, old age?
- Flamethrowers? Why do they have flamethrowers? Like… at all.
Production values – The monster is piss poor, but the freezing effects are okay, and the set design is actually pretty shiny… in a not-at-all shiny, looks like an arse-end-of-the-world research base kind of way. 12
Dialogue and performances – There is really nothing much in this script to write home about, but with a couple of exceptions (the film’s budget Noomi Rapace is the worst) the performances are solid, and certainly no-one is phoning it in or mugging for the camera. 6
Plot and execution – As I say, it’s a standard stalk and slash, with the added angle of the hostile environment; like Predator meets The Thing, but not that good. 11
Randomness – Actually, pretty solid in this regard. Apart from the flamethrowers. 4
Waste of potential – Solid budget horror fare. You wouldn’t want to back-to-back it with anything of the same oeuvre, but it kills a couple of hours without taking too many brain cells with it. 5
* Yeah; he totally did exactly that.