Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Right there next to my imaginary list of film directors who have made some of my favorite films, such as John Woo and ‘The Killer’ or Don Siegel and ‘The Killers’ or Scott Sanders and ‘Black Dynamite’ is the imaginary picture of Australian director Brian Trenchard-Smith holding the imaginary plaque for his movie ‘The Man from Hong Kong’. Damn I loved that movie. Of course that film was made in 1975 which as of today was a good thirty five years ago and I don’t know if Mr. Trenchard-Smith has ever reached the ‘potential’ that ‘The Man from Hong Kong’ set for him back them, but admittedly, the bar was high. Some would point to ‘Night of the Demons 2’ as the high water mark for Mr. Trenchard-Smith’s career while absolutely no one is giving my man props for ‘Leprechaun 4: In Space’. However the man does stay busy and today we are checking the prolific director’s latest flick ‘Arctic Blast’ which was, in a word, mundane. Meaning that it’s just about perfect to show up on the Sci-Fi Channel as one of their Saturday Night Movie Premieres.

Michael Shanks is super brilliant meteorologist Jack Tate. Super Brilliant. I mean this guys level of meteorological knowledge is off the chain. Unfortunately, while Jack is super smart and stuff, he’s a lousy husband to his M.D. wife Emma (Alexandra Davies) and an even lousier father to his bratty teenage daughter Naomi (Indiana Evans). In fact Jack is the middle of a divorce hearing, a divorce he doesn’t want but his wife is tired of moving around every other year and would like stay put in Australia, her home, but Jack has plans of taking the family to Beijing. No, this has nothing to do with arctic air freezing the earth but these movies do like to burden us with family melodrama for whatever reason.

The problem, as it were, is that our irresponsible behavior as guests on this rock has opened a tear in the ozone layer. In case you didn’t know the coldest air on the planet is not at the poles but just above the stratosphere where temps are like 140 below zero and are kept off our collective asses by the thin layer of ozone that protects us. Thus with this tear in the ozone an evil cold mist is sweeping across Australia instantly freezing everything in its path. Jack Tate figures this out immediately. We did mention that he is brilliant, right? The powers that be don’t believe him, particularly his asshole American boss Mr. Winslaw (Bruce Davidson).

Eventually they believe him. Oh do they believe him because now life on earth is in danger as tears have opened up in the ozone freezing stuff like crazy across the entire planet and is on the verge of putting us in a new Ice Age. We need a solution like yesterday. Mr. Winslaw and his scientific team of incredible minds have one solution, Jack Tate and his one incredible mind has another solution. Who do you trust, the bunch o’ brilliant minds or the weather man so smart that even Al Roker has to step back and say ‘damn…’? Do we even need to answer that question?

So while ‘Arctic Blast’ is truly one mundane and run of the mill piece of scientific mumbo jumbo styled entertainment, I think that Brian Trenchard-Smith is a skilled enough director to have probably squeezed about as much entertainment value as he possibly could have out of this strictly paint by the numbers exercise. One of the main problems with these low budget Sci-Fi adventure flicks is that, due to budgetary constraints, the action usually takes place in a closed room with a bunch of people looking at computer screens. We’re wagging our disapproving fingers squarely at you ‘Ice Quake’ and ‘Polar Storm’. This movie at least had the foresight to create a villain of sorts in the form of an encroaching cold mist. Not the best villain ever, And I will admit that I prefer some kind of evil terrorist dude in the background manipulating this stuff as opposed to getting tongue lashed for being a bad human, but it kind of works here. There was even a scene where the evil mist was chasing Dr. Tate and his bratty daughter down the freeway in a semi-thrilling car chase, and we even got to see this chase from the evil mist point of view. Evil Blue Mist Vision! How about that, huh?

The mist froze England and Big Ben, Moscow Square, those cone looking things in Sydney, it froze people by the thousands and spiders too. That’s good you know? The fact that we actually got out and about and weren’t stuck looking at people look at monitors. At least not a lot, because there were times when we were stuck looking at people look at monitors, but it just didn’t dominate the movie.

But while ‘Arctic Blast’ is better than average as far as low budget Sci-Fi themed action disaster movies go, it’s still somewhat sub-par as far as just regular old movies go. The family drama was irritating and we could care less if the Tate’s were able to rediscover their love, young and cutely adorable Indiana Evans as the bratty daughter who also did double duty as the ‘We All Gonna Die Guy’ in this movie was equally irritating and we were secretly hoping the evil arctic blast would get her. We’re not proud of this. The action sequences were run of the mill at best, but still better than what we are used to, and the narrative was predictable to a fault. Sometimes they should let the first plan devised by people who are not stars in our movie actually work, or maybe allow no plan to work and just freeze everybody death. Now that would be something.

I’ve certainly seen worse and I’m betting in the hands of another director… we’re looking at you Paul Ziller, creator of Polar Storm and Ice Quake… it would’ve been worse. But I did get a little something more than I expected and for that small thing I am grateful.

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