Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Oh Val… you and your politics. Since there is in no way in hell most Hollywood studios have an interest in making a ‘message’ film, unless this message makes them some money, and since I suppose Val Kilmer isn’t considered big time ‘leading man’ material anymore, Mr. Kilmer has gone and invaded my cherished Straight to DVD genre with his ‘message’ films. First there was the movie ‘Conspiracy’ which was completely ludicrous but oddly entertaining in a stupid kind of way, a film which took shots at the Bush administration and their immigration policies. Now we have ‘The Thaw’, with Kilmer in more of a supporting role, which takes on the problem of Global Warming. The interesting thing is that despite the fact this movie is about swarms of carnivorous prehistoric vertebrate bugs it’s not nearly as outlandish as ‘Conspiracy’ but not quite as entertaining either.

In this movie Kilmer is Dr. David Kruipen, some kind 1960’s eco radical. Actually I don’t think he’s old enough to be sixties radical or even a seventies radical for that matter so maybe he’s an eighties radical, but who in the hell was radical in the 80’s? Anyway, while working with his team in the quickly defrosting great white north, his crew spots a polar bear eating something, but this polar bear is too far north, further proof that its natural habitat is defrosting. They tranquilize it and tag it only to find that this polar bear was eating something rather amazing in that melting ice cap.

Halfway around the world we meet Dr. Kruipen’s hateful daughter Evelyn (Martha MacIsaac) who despises her detached father for a number of reasons. So when Doc begs his daughter to come up north to experience his glorious discovery she declines until he promises to release her late mother’s estate. Greedy bitch. So Evelyn catches a ride with three lucky graduate students who get to work with the esteemed doctor, so she can get her loot, only to suddenly have her father change his mind and beg Evelyn not to come. The students can come, but not his baby girl. Hmmmm….

We don’t know exactly what’s going on up here but we can see that members of Dr. Kruipen’s crew look like total ass. We also see that the good Doc is up to something. Something eeeeevillll. Maybe. Depending on where you stand with this whole Global Warming thing. But whatever this thing is we watch as Doc Krupien’s whiny, crying, screaming, hysterical yet incredibly eco intelligent daughter attempts to reverse the events that have been set in motion, events that very well could mean the END OF MAN!!!

Let me tell you a little known fact. I have a masters degree in biology. I’m not doing anything with it but I got it. So I, at least at one time, was as curious about the world around us as anybody. But there are even things that I would’ve drawn the line at which leads to a few of my problems with some of the characters and their behaviors in this movie. For instance our new arrivals find a rotting polar bear in the lab. Fascinating perhaps, but not fascinating enough for me to put my arms around the ROTTING polar bear for a photo op. Or let’s imagine someone you know has vomited something along the lines of fecal matter and has died. Maybe it’s not the most noble thing but I’m not attempting to perform mouth to mouth on a dead person with dookey coating their lips. I mean they are dead already, know what I’m saying? I don’t how many times characters stuck their face in things that were pulsing, things that were rotting, or stuck their fingers into rotting stuff or ran into rotted bug infested rooms. I realize Kyle Schmid’s character of Frederico was the asshole ‘WE ALL GONNA DIE’ character, but outside of the super amped up paranoia his character possessed, his behavior seemed most normal to me in this given situation.

However if you can get past what I found as the characters odd (read: Stupid) behavior ‘The Thaw’ isn’t so bad. What helps move this movie along is that it has a narrative that is reasonably conceivable. For instance in ‘Conspiracy’ you had the equivalent of Dick Cheney running around Texas personally murdering illegal aliens and torturing people. That’s not reasonably conceivable. In this film the concept of global warming defrosting something that never was meant to be defrosted in the first place is a solid launching point for a horror type thriller. Of course John Carpenter used this same concept and used it much better in ‘The Thing’ but that was alien where this is earthbound. Not that I wish to unfairly compare ‘The Thaw’ to ‘The Thing’ because nothing, and I mean nothing compares to ‘The Thing’. But director Mark A. Lewis has directed a movie that moves swiftly, moves logically… that is outside of its stupid characters… and if you have a thing about bugs this movie will completely creep you out. I mean these creatures get into every orifice. Note to self; resist having sex with my bug infected girlfriend.

Val Kilmer doesn’t really do much in this movie, at least in the sense that watching this once great actor do what he does because anybody could’ve done this. But I guess having Val Kilmer in your movie does help get your movie made.

While ‘The Thaw’ certainly isn’t a classic by any stretch, it is fairly entertaining in a left leaning kind of way. For the life of me I still don’t know why Global Warming has become a liberal / conservative political issue, I mean either it is or it isn’t, correct? And evidence seems to prove that this does exist but heaven forbid I get accused of being ‘a liberal’. We’ll just wait and see what politically charged movie that Val Kilmer, a true liberal, sends straight to DVD next.

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