Director – Sturla Gunnarsson, Screenplay – Jonathan Tydor, Producer – Jeff Sackman, Photography – Stephen Reizes, Music – Jonathan Goldsmith, Visual Effects – LR Molnar Holdings Inc. in association with Intelligent Creatures (Supervisor – Bojan Zoric), Special Effects Supervisor – Mark Ahee, Makeup Effects – Form & Dynamics (Designer – David Scott), Production Design – Justin Craig & Peter Mihaichuk. Production Company – Level Film/TAJJ Media/Bunk 11 Pictures/The Movie Network/Movie Central.
Dominic Purcell (Dr Andrew Malraux), Adam Beach (T.C. Cardinal), Gabriel Hogan (Frozen #1), Michael Ironside (Colonel Desmond Trump), Camille Sullivan (Jane Frazer), Nicu Branzea (Vladimir Lobokoff), Matthew G. Taylor (Frozen #2), Andre Tricoteux (Frozen #3), Carinne Leduc (Juliet), Stefen Hayes (Russian Oil Executive), Benz Antoine (Sergeant Joe Gibbs)
Jane Frazer is flown into the Canadian Arctic as part of an American oil expedition. She meets scientist Andrew Malraux who tells her that they are searching for the survivors of a Soviet plane that crashed in 1962 at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Inside were three soldiers that had been created as genetic supermen and were near invulnerable to damage. Malraux locates the three frozen bodies and brings them back to base to examine. However, the three soldiers quickly revive and slaughter the entire complement of the base. Malraux is the only survivor and sets out pursuing the soldiers across the snowy wastes as they head to their mission target of New York.
Sturla Gunnarsson is an Icelandic-born director who has been resident in Canada since the age of seven. In Canada, Gunnarsson has mostly worked in tv and directed a handful of features with Gerrie & Louise (1997), Such a Long Journey (1998), Rare Birds (2001) and Air India 182 (2009), none of which seem very well known outside of Canada. His most high-profile film to date has been Beowulf & Grendel (2005), an adaptation of the classic legend.
Ice Soldiers feels like a blatantly commercial effort on Gunarsson’s part to make a film that is pitched to the science-fiction/action crowd. The premise is not a terribly inspiring one – it feels like it has been borrowed from Universal Soldier (1992) and its various sequels and that Ice Soldiers should belong back as a 1990s direct-to-video action film as directed by someone like Richard Pepin or Phillip Roth.
It is almost as though screenwriter Jonathan Tydor – who also wrote one quirkily enjoyable science-fiction/action film Dark Angel/I Come in Peace (1990) – has essentially rehashed the Nazi zombie film, which began with Shock Waves (1977) and passed through the likes of Oasis of the Zombies (1981), Zombies’ Lake (1981), Night of the Zombies (1981) and Dead Snow (2009), but changed it to Soviet soldiers of the Cold War era rather than Nazi zombies.
Even though Ice Soldiers fails to seem inspiring from a premise point-of-view, one had admired Sturla Gunnarsson’s work and felt that he could elevate the material. Alas, it feels exactly like another of the occasions when you get directors not used to genre material coming into the sf or horror genres and being dismissive of it. Gunnarsson gives the impression that he has failed to do much to study action movies or has made any effort to create original and dramatic scenes here.
The film is shot well and looks quite good, features an okay cast line-up but Gunnarsson never goes anywhere with it. The entire film suffers from being low key. The three frozen soldiers spent most of the film walking around musclebound and nude, rather laughably accompanied by pumping rap music every time they appear, but the film stages little in the way of action or generates any excitement. Even the predictable twist about Dominic Purcell’s origins is groan-worthy because the film has signposted everything so obviously from the outset.