It's The Day After Tomorrow without the star power or effects budget.
Nick’s Giant Freakin’ Queue Review would like to prematurely apologize to anyone who ends up watching this film based on this review. Also, we’re accepting pats on the back and cash prizes. Because even though Brian Trenchard-Smith’s Arctic Blast is one of the biggest pieces of shit I’ve seen in quite some time, it’s also unending in the amount of unintentional hilarity it offers up to viewers brave enough to freeze up their disbelief. Go ahead and watch the trailer now, just so you’ll have some notion of the depthless endeavor that sitting through this entire movie really is.
Isn’t it strange not to see the words “Syfy Original Movie” scattered throughout that trailer? Arctic Blast was shot in Tasmania, which is why you hear all those amazing Australian accents being used. I’m honestly shocked and almost insulted that no one’s barbie got ruined by the cold.
“Icy” no reason why we shouldn’t tackle the plot right away. Jack Tait (Michael Shanks) — meteorologist, physicist, and poor man’s James Bond — is married to his job, which has crumbled his marriage, as informed by a scene at a divorce lawyer’s office and his daughter loudly accusing him of loving his job more than his family. (Spoiler: they don’t get divorced, and that plotline is only one of many underdeveloped side stories.) A rift has formed in the ozone layer, which has allowed massive amounts of cold air from the mesosphere to break through. And though there’s absolutely no science behind anything that goes on here, we’re supposed to understand that there is now a killer ice fog spreading, threatening the lives of everyone in Australia, but particularly those in the city of Hobart, where Jack and the other main characters live. This fog reaches temperatures between -80 degrees and -100 degrees Fahrenheit, but doesn’t spread out in any normal patterns nor dissipate as it goes; it somehow follows whatever victim viewers are supposed to be caring about in any particular scene.
Jack is assisted by the diabetic Dr. Zoe Quinn (Saskia Hempele), who appears to harbor some deep feelings for Jack, despite him having a wife and all, but it’s never really spoken of, save for a few longing looks. In fact, if this were a high school play — one of similar quality to this film, no doubt — I might have just thought the actress had a crush on the actor. Zoe and Jack, and Jack’s daughter Naomi (Indiana Evans), spend much of the film together as the world outside turns into a popsicle tray.
Because, you see, the rift wasn’t just contained to a location near Australia. Major cities all over the world eventually have their own rifts opening above them, and man-made pollution is called out several times as being the culprit. This, despite the fact that the hole in the ozone is over Antarctica, far away from any major cities.
The entire Australian…weather division?…is on the case, and Jack is in constant touch with some important American schmo inexplicably played by Bruce Davison, who spends 99% of his onscreen time on the phone, and 80% of it riding in a limo and staring at a computer screen. For some reason, he talks to Jack often, but doesn’t trust him enough to listen to any of his Earth-saving theories until it’s the very last option. This entire plot is as predictable as it is nonsensical — although giant weather balloons and rockets weren’t necessarily what I thought their plans would involve — but it’s almost refreshing to see a disaster movie where it isn’t America that eventually saves the day. (See: Independence Day and others.)
I realize that very little of what I’ve shared with you thus far may get you to actively seek this movie out, but I promise you the only downtime is a 15-minute chunk whenever the action is “heating up” and all the characters are doing is spouting exposition and phrases like “isotherm analysis.” Otherwise, this is a movie filled with logical fallacies, horrific line readings, and purely ridiculous scenes where bursting into laughter isn’t just an option, it’s a necessity.
Because listing the plethora of unbelievable moments would dilute your potential enjoyment, I’d like to bring up two specific parts that epitomize this film’s problems, which are actually the reasons why it’s such an amazing movie.
When the cold shit is hitting the cold fan, Jack goes to retrieve his daughter from school, only to find she skipped out and went to the beach with her friends. One of the friends is out surfing when the gigantic frost fog can be seen on the horizon. But instead of jetting it back to shore and hauling ass back to whatever vehicle they took to get there, he just floats there, marveling at the size of it all. Jack arrives at the beach and, while it initially looks like he might just scoop Naomi up and head back into town, countless minutes are wasted yelling for the guy to get out of the water. So when he freezes up and dies, that’s when they go, right? Nope. They just yell at the other friend to hurry up and run to them, and then they stand there while she freezes to death. And it’s only when the fog is actually close enough to smell their breath that they finally retreat, hopping into Jack’s truck so they can drive away from the fog, which stays right on their tail the whole time. Remember that scene in Chain Reaction when Keanu Reeves races away from a bomb blast on his motorcycle? This is like 12 of those scenes combined.
The other moment involves Jack’s wife, Emma (Alexandra Davies), who takes shelter with her parents in their non-airtight home. When the frost approaches (taking a spider’s life in the process), a woman appears at their front door, yelling to let her in. Emma lets in the severely frostbitten woman, and they proceed to take care of her, bundling her up in blankets on the couch. The filmmakers decided to give this woman a little backstory for some reason, which involves Emma finding a small bottle of medicine. When she mentions that it’s heart medicine, her mom looks positively disgusted for a second, as if having to deal with a frostbitten person without a heart problem was bad enough. And then the woman dies without much fanfare, and you realize that not a single bit of thought was put into this entire movie. (No, it doesn’t really take this long to figure it out.)
I can’t recommend this movie enough, especially on a rainy, booze-soaked night with a bunch of friends around. It’s got all of the scientific malarkey of films like 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow, with none of the star power or special effects money. What could be bad about that? (Don’t ask Bruce Davison.)
See Arctic Blast if you like: feeling intellectually superior to everyone in the movie you’re watching; films that directly quote the opening narration and text; legitimately cool-looking scenes full of CGI weather balloons; disaster films with an ecological message, even if that message is told in “idiot-speak.”
Thanks for reading, guys! Check back next week for another new look at another non-new film, and remember that ecological revenge is a dish best served cold and foggy. Spend some time with my past Giant Freakin’ Queue Reviews, which include Kaboom, Doomsday Book and Primer.