Archives for posts with tag: Alaska

The Grey

Reminiscent of The Edge (1997) in its tale of wilderness survival, The Grey has a plane full of oil rig workers crashing in the snowy Alaskan waste, where the few survivors must struggle both against the cold and a pack of vicious wolves who hunt them while also coping with their own intragroup tensions. Neeson is perfectly cast in the lead as the only man in the group with the skills that may be able to keep them alive. Existential flavoring, unexpected bits of humor, and spooky utilization of locations and sound design make The Grey a thrilling adventure and a solid career highlight for the star.

4.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Grey is:

4. Anti-corporate. The oil company employs criminal misfits, mercenaries unsuited for any other kind of life. The greedy corporation, one survivor speculates, will expend as little effort as possible to find them, since rescuing the men would only mean having to pay them what they are owed.

3. Pro-family. The men miss their loved ones and have occasional recourse to consoling memories.

2. Anti-Christian. In a moment of despair, Neeson calls out God, demanding that He show him a sign of His existence. Finally, receiving no reply, he resolves, “I’ll do it myself.” A tacky neon cross adorns the exterior of an inn where brutish louts are drunkenly brawling in an early scene.

1. Sadistically green and animal rights militant. The Grey takes place in a universe in which the primordial is sacred and man’s transgressions against the natural world constitute the worst of sins. Neeson, who kills wolves professionally for the oil company, has his Ancient Mariner moment early in the film when he shoots a wolf that presents no immediate danger to him. The other men, too, though fundamentally decent sorts, are accomplices in the corporate rape of the environment and so must be punished by the wolves, the vengeful Furies of the Alaskan wilderness.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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The first half of this Nic Cage serial killer thriller is so uninspired that it comes as a bit of a shock to realize an hour or so into its run time that it actually packs some fair suspense. Cage is, as always, easy to watch and perfectly adequate in his role as an Alaskan state trooper investigating a series of gruesome hooker murders, though fans of his more outrageous performances may be disappointed by his relatively sedate turn here. It is Cage’s Con Air castmate John Cusack, however, here cast against type as the seemingly mild-mannered murderer, who constitutes the primary reason to see The Frozen Ground. The initial interrogation and confrontation between Cage and Cusack is especially electric and easily the strongest scene in the film. Also featured prominently is Vanessa Hudgens as a revolting prostitute targeted by Cusack and coddled by paternally protective Cage. Rounding out the cast are Breaking Bad‘s Dean Norris in a frustratingly small supporting role and rapper 50 Cent looking somewhat out of place as a pimp on ice. The Frozen Ground is no Angel or Vice Squad, too serious in its approach to its true crime subject matter to take full advantage of exploitative potential; but, approached with appropriate expectations, it might be worth a Redbox rental one of these chilly nights.

3 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Frozen Ground is:

6. Racist! Fiendishly perpetuating the black pimp stereotype. Even if it is based on a true story, truth is no excuse for racism!

5. Anti-gun. Cusack is a hunter and Hudgens relates that, when she saw all the animal heads mounted on his walls, she knew there was no point in begging for mercy.

4. Anti-drug. Recreational pharmaceuticals solve nobody’s problems. Cage’s sister died in an accident caused by a drunken driver.

3. Anti-Christian. The killer, whose middle name is Christian, is, appropriately enough, a Christian, as an FBI psychological profile has predicted. One senses that his family’s emotional life is stultified by the strictures of his faith, which has probably also contributed to his vicious attitude toward fallen women.

2. Anti-family/anti-marriage. Like American Beauty, Breach, and countless other subversive films, The Frozen Ground is eager to reveal the conservative family man to be a closet pervert and a volatile maniac. Cusack’s wife is clearly a silent sufferer in an unhappy marriage. Hudgens, child of a teenage mother, reveals that she was molested by an uncle.

1. Slut-ambivalent. The film can hardly be accused of prettifying the life of a hooker, and it graphically illustrates the danger of hawking sloppy thousandths on the mean, moose-prowled streets of Anchorage, Alaska. The movie stumbles onto thin dramatic ice with its attempt to drum up audience sympathy over the rape of a shameless whore, however, and irritates with its perpetuation of the popular misconception that streetwalkers’ lives have value.

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