Streaming Releases: Nature Kills: Arctic (2019) - Reviewed

Building a solid foundation on a career of amazing characters that run the gamut from evil to the purely innocent, actor Mads Mikkelsen stars in the new survival film, Arctic. Set against the barren backdrop of its title, he plays the lone survivor of an airplane crash that pits him against the elements as he pushes the limits of human endurance against all odds. Much like other films in this genre, the environmental woes and reliance on self instinct lead the way, producing a sure fire drama that sees the harshness of mother earth doing her damnedest to take a man's life. With a calculated performance that adds to Mikkelsen's already amazing resume of lead roles, Arctic lurches him beyond the typical context of his previous works as he has to use a script nearly void of words to convey his pain, anguish and the will to live. 

Using very little CGI, Arctic is one of the best looking films set in nature that we've seen this year. Using massive aerial views and wide shots to frame his motion picture, audiences are treated to the sheer vastness of the arctic as a brooding sense of doom is seen at each and every corner. Much like 127 Hours, Life of Pi, or even Castaway, the true challenge is keeping things interesting with only one main character carrying the weight of the film. Mikkelsen partnered with beautiful vistas and the stark nature of his situation make for an interesting hour and a half where one man's situation is taken from the really bad to the absolute worst, obliterating his everyday humanity, sending him whirling into an abyss that he might not survive. If left in less capable dramatic hands, this movie have not come off so grand. With Mikkelsen's talent for using his eyes to communicate, Arctic works abundantly well. 

I could really use a Tauntaun right about now. 

In the vastness of the arctic, Mikkelsen's OvergĂ„rd must meet the challenges of certain doom as he's confronted at each and every step. Director Joe Penna's first full length feature breaks away from some of the standard tropes of this sub-genre to show how quickly our reality can change. Obviously, we've all experienced this plot before. But something is different this time. It feels like the screenplay's dependence on a physical performance that's more rooted in the eyes, mannerisms, and emotive expressions of its lead actor helps it stray from the norm. And those that love nature photography or docu-films on our planet will definitely love this movie. Viewers will be instantly reminded of the Robert Redford feature, All Is Lost

Starting off after events have unfolded which leave the main player stranded in a crashed plane, Arctic sets the stage for a new tale of man versus wild. There is no exposition and no build. We're immediately transferred to the center of a calamitous situation with nowhere to go and no one to talk to. Unlike other survival projects, we're immediately thrust into the story with no setup. And it works. We're instantly chilled to the bone as things go from bad to worse within minutes. If you're into tension that doesn't involve hyper violence but is more so an effort in brutal reality, Arctic is one to see. 

I checked this one out late last night and it's stuck with me ever since. Sometimes, a kick in the face that reminds us of our own existence is a great reminder that we're miniscule compared to the elements that surround us. Check this one out!

-Chris George