We all know that Hollywood is creatively bankrupt. Just look at all of the various “re-imaginings”, remakes, and movies based on toys if you have any doubt. Another source for Hollywood inspiration is books of all sorts – novels, non-fiction, graphic novels, kid-lit and comic books. Sometimes, these adaptations work extraordinarily well (The Lord of the Rings, Silence of the Lambs, No Country for Old Men), but more often, people find themselves disappointed that the movie desecrated a book they loved. As they’re about to enter theaters, I’ll take a quick look at these book-to-film projects, starting today with Whiteout.
Whiteout is a thriller/murder mystery set in Antarctica and is based on a limited-run comic book series written by Greg Rucka and illustrated by Steve Lieber. The main character is a female US Marshal who struggles against a sinister killer as well as some bitter cold as she attempts to uncover the secrets behind the murders.
I’ve actually read Whiteout, and though its my understanding that it’s fairly highly regarded, it left me a little cold (get it? Ha ha!). I liked that the central character was female and drawn realistically, but that’s about as far as it went. I never found myself particularly invested in their stories, which made it difficult for me to care whether she solved the mystery or if something terrible happened to her. It’s one of those books that I basically forgot about five minutes after I finished it.
It’s surprising, then, that someone thought there was enough mileage in Whiteout to expand to a full-length feature film. (I’d guess that the entire book takes about 40 minutes to read.) Sure, the challenges of filming a story set in Antarctica might be interesting visually, but as far as having a truly gripping story or engaging characters, there would have to be some significant work done. Considering that Kate Beckinsale was cast in the lead role – and she looks more like most “typical” female comic book characters than the one in Whiteout – it seems like the primary redeeming aspect of the book was left behind anyway.
If reviews are any indication, it looks like critics would have you steer clear of the movie, too. As I write this, Whiteout is 2% Fresh (thats *one* out of 50 reviews) at RottenTomatoes, the film review aggregator site. I suppose that’s what comes from choosing to adapt such average material in the first place.