Mads Mikkelsen stars as the unfortunate sole survivor of a plane crash in — you guessed it — the arctic. Will he have what it takes to get back to civilization? Does a polar bear shit in the snow?
The “Man vs. the Elements” storyline never goes out of fashion. Whether it’s Charlie Chaplin in The Gold Rush, Tom Hanks (and “Wilson”) in Cast Away or, in this case, Mikkelsen in frigid Iceland, it’s a scenario that appeals to our survival-instinct roots.
In the movies, you just need a charismatic actor with an expressive face, and some realistic — preferably daunting — scenery. Arctic delivers on both.
If the film isn’t quite as moving as some of its Hollywood ancestors, it’s because Mads must go it alone (there is another character, but she’s barely conscious). He doesn’t have other actors with whom to share the drama, and the trauma. Not even a volleyball. Release: 2019 Grade: B+
Top Gun: Maverick
I have hazy memories of watching Top Gun in the 1980s, whether in a theater or on VHS, I couldn’t say. I recall thinking it was entertaining, but not particularly original.
Flash forward to today and the long-delayed Top Gun sequel, which I watched last night and thought: It was entertaining, but not particularly original.
But that’s not completely honest. In today’s political climate, in which everything Hollywood produces seems either snark-filled or way too “woke,” old-fashioned Top Gun: Maverick feels paradoxically fresh.
One thing hasn’t changed over the decades — both movies are first-and-foremost Tom Cruise vehicles and, although his face is a bit saggier than it was in 1986, Cruise’s movie-star charisma hasn’t faded a bit. Release: 2022 Grade: B+
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