I’ve said it once, I’ve said it twice, I’ve said it a thousand times, you simply cannot go wrong with true stories. And survival drama Against the Ice is based on one. It follows Captain Ejnar Mikkelsen and his attempts to recover the proof that Greenland is one solid piece of land. You can already guess where this is going so I’m not going to talk more about the plot. Mostly because there’s not much going on in this one. So, if you’re not a fan of the genre you might find it a bit boring at times. However, those parts are quickly replaced with thought-provoking character development and mesmerizing Greenland vistas.
Against the Ice unfolds slowly and meticulously, leaving you with enough time and energy to think about what’s actually going on. There are basically two ways you can watch this movie. You can go all in and immerse yourself completely into the story and characters. Think about what drives someone to go to the edge of the world looking for this elusive thing. I have to admit that I found the whole thing very inspiring and life-affirming. This means you will have to do all the heavy lifting as the movie failed to do so and remained quite mild and without the usual survival drama.
You can also think about how far we’ve come as a civilization and all that other crap. Or you can just space out and watch two guys try to survive in the harsh but beautifully snowy environment. We’ve been lucky with these snow expeditions in the last few years. First came Terror, based on one hell of a novel written by Dan Simmons. By the way, there are rumors that after almost ten years of hiatus the Hyperion adaptation might actually be happening. And then, just last year, we had the pleasure to watch another phenomenal miniseries, The North Water. I highly recommend you check both of them out as they’re practically masterpieces worth watching many times over.
It is the year of our lord Satan 1909 and Captain Ejnar Mikkelsen barely made it to his home base along with one other crew member. They’ve lost all their dogs, one sled, all the food and are suffering severe frostbite. Moreover, they didn’t achieve what they set out to do and prove there is no such thing as Perry Channel dividing Greenland in half. Determined to try one more try, Ejnar enlists the help of a young mechanic Ivar Iversen and so they set off into the snow. Two against the ice.
I’m guessing that one of the reasons why you’re going to check out Against the Ice is Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. He also helped write the script for this movie along with Joe Derrick. You can expect his usually stoic and believable performance probably bolstered by the fact he’s playing a Danish character.
Joe Cole is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors and after Peaky Blinders and Green Room, he gave another stunning and subdued performance. You could feel that youthful energy and unawareness of what dangers might befall anyone who embarks on such an expedition.
The whole dog sled aspect of this movie surprised me the most. And I don’t know why. I have seen movies like this when I was a kid. I have read novels and watched documentaries about dog sledding. However, the depiction of the sheer brutality and reality of such an undertaking really struck me here. I guess I didn’t even think about some of these things when I was younger.
If you’re looking for movies like Against the Ice, I recommend you first check out Arctic, starring another great Dane, no pun intended, Mads Mikkelsen. And do skip over his Netflix blunder Polar, as I found it to be quite unwatchable. I would also be remiss if I didn’t Norwegian Kon-Tiki following the adventures of Thor Heyerdahl. Finally, you can always take a look at our Rabbit Review selection of Snow Movies.
Director: Peter Flinth
Writers: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Joe Derrick, Ejnar Mikkelsen
Cast: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Joe Cole, Heida Reed, Þorsteinn Bachmann, Charles Dance, Gísli Örn Garðarsson
Fun Facts: The silver spoon method of detecting poison Ejnar proposes does indeed work but only with arsenic. Silver does not change color when it comes in contact with other poisonous substances.