Ice (1998)

Rating:

USA/Canada/Germany. 1998.

Crew

Director – Jean de Segonzac, Teleplay – Bruce A. Taylor & Roderick Taylor, Producer – Laurie McLarty, Photography – Mike Fash, Music – Lawrence Shragge, Visual Effects – Gajdecki Visual Effects (Supervisor – Tom Turnbull), Special Effects – Laird McMurray Film Services (Supervisor – Tim Good), Production Design – Philip Dean Foreman. Production Company – World International Network LLC/Alexander Enright and Associates/Pro-Sieben

Cast

Grant Show (Drake), Flex (Kelvin), Udo Kier (Dr Norman Kistler), Michael Riley (Greg), Eva La Rue (Alison), Audie England (Julie), Kyle Fairlie (Max), Kristin Booth (Jessica), Art Hindle (The President), Diego Fuentes (Zapata)


Plot

The whole world is affected by sudden changes in weather patterns, causing temperatures to drop well below zero. Meteorological scientist Norman Kistler is certain that this is the onset of a new Ice Age and that these conditions will not pass for another decade. The only hope is for people in northern regions to evacuate south towards the equator. A Navy ship is sent to Malibu to pick Kistler up. Los Angeles is then suddenly covered in snow several feet deep. On the way to the rendezvous point, Kistler’s car freezes over and then a police car accidentally hits him. Kistler picks up a gun and demands that Officer Drake take him to Malibu but they disarm him, not before Drake’s partner Zapata is shot. They seek refuge with Drake’s ex-wife Julie and her boyfriend Greg. Drake takes a snowmobile from police headquarters and they set out across snowbound L.A., along with Julie, Greg, Drake’s girlfriend Alison, his son Max and Kelvin, a petty hood that Drake has just arrested. However, as the city slips into open anarchy and brutal survivalism, the journey becomes a highly dangerous one. Moreover, what the treacherous Kistler has not told them is that the ship is only coming to pick him up.


This is a made-for-tv disaster movie that takes up the promising idea of the onset of a new Ice Age. Being a tv movie, it unfortunately offers up a low-budget depiction of the disaster that leaves the film coming up well short of conveying the scale of what is happening. Much of the depiction of the storm, for instance, takes place off-screen and what we do see is only small-scale dramas – people pulling guns in police cars, dealing with looters and so on. That said, there are some occasional modestly effective special effects shots – The White House surrounded by snow, the Hollywood sign buried in snow and collapsing, the windows of downtown skyscrapers shattering, the Wilshire Boulevard sign snapping off, frozen freeways with toppled tankers and shots of snowmobiles cruising down snow-covered boulevards with palm trees along the side. The plot conveys a modest sense of survivalism during these scenes – the bickering among the group, the cop making the decision to trust a con, encounters with militants – although many of these collapse into poorly directed dramatics.

What is interesting about Ice in retrospect is how it uncannily prefigures the big-budget, high-profile The Day After Tomorrow (2004) and its plot about a drastic global climate change that plunges most of North America into an Ice Age. It is almost certain that the people behind The Day After Tomorrow must have seen Ice. There are almost identical scenes with The President and his group of advisers in both films. Tellingly, Ice even manages to use “the day after tomorrow” as a line of dialogue at one point. Certainly, the scenario here is a much more convincing one than in The Day After Tomorrow. The climatology is moderately convincing, the characters and their personal dramatics less wooden. Most of all, unlike The Day After Tomorrow, Ice doesn’t have an absurd passover ending where things abruptly end as quickly as they started – the film realistically shows that the Ice Age would be here to stay. If the plot and dramas of Ice had been combined with The Day After Tomorrow‘s effects budget, one suspects we might have gotten one decent rather than two mediocre films.



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