Film Review: The Frozen Ground

The Frozen Ground

The Frozen Ground in a crime thriller that offers some good tension and an interesting case.

In Alaska, 1983, Cindy, a young prostitute narrowly escapes the clutches of a client who attempts to kill her. Seeing similarities between her experience and a number of missing girls, State Trooper Jack Halcombe starts to track the serial killer, but he needs Cindy’s help…

The fact that The Frozen Ground is based on a real case in slightly at odds with the style of the film. The tense finale does seem a bit far-fetched. This is followed by images of the real victims before the end credits. It is unclear what purpose this serves.

As a thriller in its own right, The Frozen Ground has the necessary intrigue, pacing and tension to make it an entertaining watch. The story  revolves around how the authorities catch the serial killer; his identity is never under any doubt.

Scott Walker’s film is sufficiently engaging. The characters are not given much that depth. They really function as vessels for the narrative. Some of their actions appear frustrating; it is unclear how much of the film is based on actual accounts. Likewise, certain elements are heightened; there is no way those involved in the case could have known all the details as depicted in The Frozen Ground.

The cinematography captures the vastness of the Alaskan landscape, even if these shots are brief. In the town scenes, the locales are portrayed with the authentic seediness required. The use of score is overbearing at certain points, although it does add tension in other moments.

John Cusack offers a very convincing performance as Robert Hansen. Nicolas Cage is fine in a role that does not require too much range. Vanessa Hudgens is also decent.

The Frozen Ground is recommended for fans of crime thrillers as it does hold the attention. Nevertheless, its ‘based on true events’ credentials perhaps did not need to be played up in the way it has been.

Trailer Round-Up

Plenty of new trailers this week, including The Call, The Frozen Ground,and Only God Forgives

The Call

Halle Berry plays an emergency call operator in The Call. Also starring Abigail Breslin, film looks like a fast-paced thriller, from the trailer at least. It at least serves as a warning to always keep your phone adequately charged. The Call is out in UK cinemas on 20th September 2013.

The Frozen Ground

Watching this trailer, it’s hard to believe that John Cusack is the same guy who was in Say Anything. The Frozen Ground is based on the true story of the hunt for a serial killer in Alaska. Also starring Nicolas Cage and Vanessa Hudgens, The Frozen Ground hits the big screen on 19th July 2013.

Only God Forgives

Here is the latest trailer for Only God Forgives. Kristin Scott Thomas is barely recognisable. And Nicolas Winding Refn really does seem to like neon. Starring Ryan Gosing, Only God Forgives is out in UK cinemas on 2nd August 2013.

Pacific Rim

Monsters! Robots! Action writ large! Pacific Rim (I can’t with this name) is Guillermo del Toro’s future-set action blockbuster. If gigantic monsters started popping out of the ocean, I think I would just hide under the bed. But perhaps this would not make for a very exciting film. Pacific Rim hits the big screen on 12th July 2013.

Runner Runner

Justin Timberlake plays a college student who pays for his tuition through online gambling in Runner Runner. In fairness, he could be a mature student. The film also stars Gemma Arterton and Ben Affleck,  in his second role since his Argo success. Runner Runner is out on 27th September 2013.


Hawking is a new documentary on the life of the most famous living scientist in the world, Stephen Hawking. His fame seems to concentrate on his work as a physicist and his disability, so perhaps this film is an opportune chance to discover more about the renowned scientist. Hawking is released on 20th September 2013.

Film Review: Beastly

A modern teen update of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, Beastly is uninspired but inoffensive. It is the sort of movie that is watched on television when nothing else is on, rather than a film to be seen (and payed for) on the big screen.

Teenager Kyle is a good-looking and popular high school student. He rates appearance highly, and plays a prank on Kendra, an unpopular girl at his high school. Unbeknownst to Kyle, Kendra is a witch who curses him in revenge. Kyle is made as ugly on the outside as he is on the inside, and has one year to find love and break the curse…

At eighty-six minutes in length, Beastly is thankfully short. The film is not terrible, but it is instantly forgettable. Beastly does nothing particularly interesting with the fairy tale that it is based on. There is no sense of innovation in adapting the story in a modern setting. The film is a standard romance, with little to distinguish itself from the plethora of other contemporary-set fairy tale films.

Beastly is fairly simplistic in its depictions of the handful of characters. The film offers a polarised world, where all the rich people are inherently bad, while the poor characters are honest and good. Housekeeper Zola is unappreciated, yet still has the patience to counsel Kyle. Kyle’s school friends, meanwhile, show little concern for the disappearance of a close friend. There is very little character development, even in the case of the two protagonists. Lindy is too good to be true, while Kyle predictably learns the error of his ways in good time. Perhaps if writer and director Daniel Barnz has spent more time giving his characters depth, the film would have been more compelling.

Make-up in the film is well executed, although Kyle does not look particularly “beastly” after the curse. Unlike earlier renditions of the story, Kyle keeps the same form; his curse is disfigurement rather than a full transformation. As such, he is not as isolated or monstrous as he could have been. The soundtrack is decent, and in keeping with the style of the film.

Alex Pettyfer is adequate as Kyle; the writing stifles any opportunity for a memorable performance. Vanessa Hudgens is less convincing as Lindy. Hudgens struggles to portray a range of emotions as believably as she should. Neil Patrick Harris’ Will is responsible for most of Beastly‘s minimal laughs, and as such should have been given a more integral role.

A film that is unlikely to be an outstanding credit to any of the cast or crew, Beastly struggles to escape its mediocre status. Not a painful watch, but not a hugely enjoyable one either.