Expeditions into hostile territory have produced some of the most inspiring tales of human inventiveness as well as some of the most shocking tales of human fallibility. Retelling a narrative with a level of grounded authenticity has long been a film tradition, but not every storey makes the transition flawlessly.
Against the Ice is based on Ejnar Mikkelsen‘s “Two Against the Ice,” a book about his 1909 voyage that was initially published in 1955 and then re-released in North America in 2003. Joe Derrick and Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who also plays Mikkelsen, rewrote the storey for the cinema, which is directed by Peter Flinth.
The annoying thing about talking about Against the Ice is that it’s really well-made, and many people definitely put a lot of effort into it, but there’s simply not much there. Beautiful vistas of frozen landscapes abound throughout the cinematography. It was shot on location in Greenland and Iceland, and the dedication to the surroundings makes much of it visually appealing. There were stories of injuries and even one storey of the team getting stuck on a glacier while filming this event, so it must have been a huge endeavour. The cast’s great performances are even more amazing as a result of the added challenge. Baltasar Kormakur, the film’s producer, is clearly interested with natural survival stories, having previously directed Everest and Adrift. This is an unquestionably well-crafted video due to the sheer filmmaking abilities on exhibit, yet it lacks the deeper features of many of its counterparts.
The premise, like everything else in the movie, is straightforward. Captain Ejnar Mikkelsen conducts a Danish expedition to Greenland’s freezing northeastern tip in the year 1910. He’s led by a diary that leads him to the location of a previous expedition’s loot. His purpose is to dispute an American claim to the region and give Denmark complete control of Greenland. Mikkelsen had a hard time finding a volunteer to accompany him for the second try after a disastrous dog-sled journey. Mikkelsen is joined by Iver Iversen, a mechanic who has no prior expertise navigating in the cold. The remainder of the gang quickly abandons the pair, leaving them to fend for themselves in an icy cabin for nearly two years. They have to deal with wild creatures, natural calamities, and the gradual loss of their sanity.
There have already been a slew of films in this genre, including Arctic, Alive, The Mountain Between Us, and a slew of others. Against the Ice is somewhere in the centre, better than some and worse than others. The dialogue is the film’s worst flaw. Workmanlike is the best way to characterise the writing. It delivers its fundamental principles, although it frequently dumps pseudo-philosophical diatribes that aren’t given any thought. It constantly threatening to make a broader point about responsibility, nationalism, exploration, nature, or any other issue more high-minded than freezing to death, and it sometimes brings up interesting concepts. It just refuses to go into broader themes, and its perspective on the main characters’ descent into lunacy is, at best, clichéd. The film’s concept of planting and payback is a little simplistic, and some of the plot feels influenced by pulp novels. Most viewers will be able to see the lines that presage future events. The same goes for tampering with people’s perceptions. Behind all the conventional frozen terror, there’s nothing unexpected or deep to be found.
When it comes to historical adaptation, Against the Ice makes blunders on both sides. Those who are familiar with the story’s circumstances may find the characters’ English accents and frequent use of anachronism annoying. This is a frequent Hollywood issue; for some reason, films often substitute English for any accent, from Ancient Greek to current Mandarin. Although not every character suffers from this flaw, those who do are annoying in a film that spends so much time explaining where everyone comes from. Although the events are straight from the book, genuine stories are rarely well-paced. As the main protagonists’ time in the ice is tracked by an on-screen day clock, there’s no feeling of escalation or that things are becoming worse. This detracts from the overall flow of the picture and makes it difficult to feel satisfied at the conclusion.
From the stunning sights and strong performances to the occasionally amusing conversation exchanges and half-hearted efforts at a message, there’s a lot to admire about Against the Ice. This film will likely appeal to fans of the wider subgenre of survival drama, as well as those who are frightened of freezing to death or have a solid understanding of Danish history. It’s worth seeing, even though most viewers won’t recall sitting down to see it a month later. Those who can’t bear it when pets die in movies should probably avoid it.