Anchor Bay just released Paul Ziller’s straight-to-SyFy flick, Ice Quake on DVD and Blu-ray. The film serves to tell another natural disaster tale, as liquid Methane runs beneath the snowy landscape of Alaska, triggering a series of fatal earthquakes. It’s not the most original concept to hit film, but it’s a fair movie that manages to win big in some areas, and fail miserably in others.
The early pacing of the picture represents the films largest hurdle en route to success, and unfortunately not even the final act delivers on a grand enough scale to erase the memory of a solid hour of what can be described only as lag. I’m a firm believer that a film of this nature must make a major impact upon viewers inside the first act; it seems a necessity to establish an engagement between the art and the viewer early when it comes to disaster flicks, and Ice Quake flounders rather than explodes.
There are some fine performances to take in, as both Brendan Fehr and Victor Garber offer forth refined performances that, in all honesty seem slightly too polished for a film of this nature. This is proffered as a chaotic film; two lone performances probably shouldn’t be stealing the show. However, that is certainly the case here, and I do issue respect to both men for playing a key role in salvaging this picture.
The special effects aren’t exactly mind boggling, however, when compared to many other low budget releases utilizing the same premise, the reasonably controlled approach works; there aren’t too many shots that are certifiably cringe worthy. All in all, it’s actually a very contained picture visually, as scribes Ziller and David Ray look to put a hefty portion of the focus on the characters themselves, and how they respond to the disaster. Self-awareness can be a rare commodity in this business, and I applaud Ziller for recognizing his limitations.
All said and done, Ice Quake isn’t a total failure, but it’s extremely distanced from a masterpiece. The film’s greatest flaw lie, in my opinion, in the editing, as there are some shots that could have obviously been tightened up, and the picture runs a solid 20 minutes too long. That said if you enjoy natural disaster films, Ice Quake is entertaining on some levels, and it’s definitely worth a single watch. I wouldn’t leap to pay for the film, but if you catch it on the small screen, give it a chance.
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