Director: Yim Pil-sung
Producer: Cha Seung-Jae
Cast: Song Gang-Ho, Yu Ji-Tae, Kim Gyeong-Ik, Park Hee-Sun, Yun Je-Mun, Choi Deok-Mun, Kang Hye-Jeong
Running Time: 115 min.
I have to admit something here. I got suckered into buying Antarctic Journal from the selling line at YesAsia – “Suspense and danger lurk everywhere, even at the South Pole!” The premise of a team of explorers trekking through the Antarctic seemed very interesting at the time so I placed my order for the movie.
Prior to receiving it, I read Equinox’s poor review of the movie and got antsy. I was really hoping he got bombed out of his mind watching the movie, couldn’t remember any of it, and wrote some crap about it being bad. Either that, or he was wrong (it wouldn’t be the 1st
Well, unfortunately, he was right. Antarctic Journal was about as enjoyable as a vasectomy without any of the necessary purpose behind the latter. It started off well, with sweeping shots of snow dunes and mountain ranges. It also had some interesting characters to begin with. And, quite frankly, when you’re setting a movie in the wasteland of the Antarctic, you’re only going to get these two things to play with.
As the movie progressed, however, the scenery became nothing more than just white. Mind you, the Antarctic is a wasteland so the scenery is all you can play with. But, c’mon, when you start off with some interesting scenery shots and then jump right into what obviously looks like some piss-poor studio backdrop, it’s bound to disappoint. It reminded me a lot of when I saw the Dune miniseries – special effects were interesting but the studio backdrops were poor that you would expect somebody to accidentally punch through the sun on the wall. Luckily for Dune, it had a rich story and a multitude of characters to utilize.
Therefore, one would assume that the characters of Antarctic Journal would come out to the forefront. Nope – pretty soon, most of them are killed off without ever understanding who they were, nor what purpose they really served in the expedition itself. As some form of thrill, the director has put in hints of the supernatural in the movie but never fleshes that out, too. The more I think about it, Antarctic Journal reminds me a bit of The Abyss but at least that movie was fairly interesting.
What a disappointment. Did I mention already that Equinox was right? Well, he was wrong in one aspect – he was far too generous with his rating.
Owlman’s Rating: 2/10
Unfortunately, Song Kang-ho’s last two films have, in my opinion, been fairly boring. I really didn’t care much for The President’s Barber and Antarctic Journal just adds to my disappointment in his recent choice of movies. It wouldn’t be so bad if he were starring in more than just one film per year, but as it is now, he’s 0 for 2 since 2003’s brilliant film Memories of Murder.
Antarctic Journal is the story of a team of explorers from South Korea trying to reach the POI (Pole of Inaccessibility, or the point in Antarctica furthest from any of the ocean’s, reached just once by a Russian team in 1957). Of course, in such an inhospitable climate, it takes everything the group has to get there Enter a 24 hour day, endless fields of snow, frostbite, insanity, relics from a failed 1922 British exploration and just all around spooky music, it sounds like the premise for a terrific film. Unfortunately, it just fails to live up to any sort of expectation.
It’s not that it’s a bad movie, or maybe it’s just that I keep telling myself that because I can’t bear the thought of Song Kang-ho starring in such a crapfest, but Antarctic Journal just fails in all respects. None of the explorers seems to want the group to succeed. The one that does just ends up royally screwing it up for everyone else (and thus letting most of them die). Of course, there’s also the clichéd character that wears glasses and is blind without them. When he first came on screen and I saw the glasses, I already knew they’d be a plot point sooner or later. And, surprise surprise, he doesn’t have a backup pair, so when his main pair get destroyed, what does he do? Kills himself. Of course. Makes perfect sense.
Don’t waste your time with Antarctic Journal. If you want to see the beautiful landscape of snow filled emptiness, don’t bother with this movie, just come visit me in Wisconsin in January. I promise not to hacksaw your foot off if you get frostbite.
Equinox21’s Rating: 5/10