I have this unassailable belief that writers have good taste when it comes to other narrative material (films, television, books, etc.), especially if they are good writers who I admire. I don’t know if this is because I am equating my tastes with the writers, and therefore flattering myself, or if it’s the idea that people who write for a living have an ability to understand the mechanics and quality of stories. It is for this reason that I can no longer completely trust the opinion of Greg Rucka.
I really like Rucka’s work – both his comics (Queen & Country, Gotham Central, his Wonder Woman run, Detective Comics) and his novels (the Atticus Kodiak series and the Queen & Country novels) – and I was really happy for him (and Steve Lieber) that Whiteout was made into a film. I saw him on CBR TV saying that, although it wasn’t the graphic novel, it was a good film. I don’t think he was being totally honest – he is a producer on the film.
Whiteout is not a good film – a fact that perhaps might have been suggested by the two-year delay between making and release. Even ignoring the changes from the graphic novel, the film is very flat – everything has to be explained as if the audience are pre-schoolers. The fact that the location of this supposed thriller is Antarctica is still something that makes it stand out a little from the crowd, but the rest of it is very standard; the scenes set in the snow are something different. Dominic Sena, who lobbied to direct, makes a by-the-numbers film, resorting to a shower scene within the first five minutes – Kate Beckinsale is Carrie Stetko, and gamely strips down after coming in from the freezing conditions at the South Pole (to show you how many layers she has to wear, of course) – even showing the shot of Beckinsale in silhouette through the only-in-film frosted-transparent shower from the distance of the bathroom door (what a cliché).
I’m trying to remember something that was good about the film, so as not to appear too biased, but I can’t; the cast isn’t bad but they’re not doing themselves any favours (Tom Skerritt is craggy as a doctor at the station, but nothing more; Gabriel Macht turns up as a UN operative, showing that he is not having much luck after The Spirit), and I felt slightly sad watching it, seeing another graphic novel turned into another ordinary film where they missed the point.