Beyond The Pole Movie Review

With a smart script and an enjoyably manic premise, this British adventure comedy gets off to a great start. But the story wobbles badly in the third act, and loses its audience as it gets both contrived and maudlin.

The uptight Mark (Mangan) and laid-back Brian (Thomas) are university mates who decide to set a world record for the first carbon-neutral, organic, vegetarian, unassisted trek to the North Pole. They set off with their cameraman (Russell), while smiley pal Graham (Benton), Brian's girlfriend Sandra (Cavaleiro) and TV producer Becky (Baxendale) track their progress back home. But they're unprepared to the challenge, which gets trickier when they meet a pair of Norwegians (Skarsgard and Arentz-Hansen) who look likely to steal their record.

And then there are the polar bears.

The film's opening scenes feature hilariously freeform dialog that sharply establishes the characters. Mark's continual ranting about global warming is amusing, as is Brian's oblivious cheerfulness. And even when things start to go wrong on the icepack, the shift to blacker comedy is effective. So it's extremely frustrating to watch as the screenwriters seem to run out of ideas, allowing the story to get mopey and pointless. As a result, their central message (about the importance of reversing climate change) is badly undermined.

But the film is almost worth seeing for the engaging first two-thirds, which are lively and clever, mixing sparky gags with silly slapstick. Mangan and Thomas make a superb duo, and their banter has the thrill of improvisation to it, which is why the strained plotting weakens it so badly. Meanwhile, Williams shoots and edits the film with a lot of witty touches, using the glorious setting (it was filmed in Greenland) and the mock-doc form to fine effect.

Although a Blair Witch-style segment is pretty annoying.

Essentially, as long as the film is having fun with its premise and characters, we are enjoying it as well. But as the plot begins to get serious, it goes off the rails. The writers indulge in a few extremely lazy contrivances as well as over-the-top nastiness. So when things turn preachy, they lose us completely.

Cast & Crew

Director : David L. Williams

Producer : Andrew J. Curtis, David L. Williams

Starring : , Rhys Thomas, , , Rosie Cavaliero, , Lars Arentz-Hansen, , , Zoe Telford, Elizabeth Croft, Kirsty Wark

Comments

Beyond The Pole Rating

" Weak "

Rating: 15, 2009

Advertisement

More Stephen Mangan

Stephen Mangan On Performing Live: It's Both "Nerve-Racking And Thrilling"

In Steven Mangan’s latest piece for The Guardian, the Green Wing actor takes us through his pre-match thoughts as he prepares to go on stage...

Stephen Mangan on Using Church To Perform and Postman Pat

Stephan Mangan’s work is usually reserved for adults. Strong language and themes of a sexual nature have been prerequisites to a huge amount of his...

Postman Pat: The Movie Trailer

Pat Clifton has long nursed a passion for delivering mail as the much-loved postman of Greendale; his generosity and determination making him one of the...

Advertisement

A Week In Movies: 12 Years Rules London, Stars Mourn Hoffman, New Films From Russia, Macfarlane And Gyllenhaal

Awards season finally hit London on Sunday night as Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave collected three top awards at the London Critics' Circle Film...

'Postman Pat: The Movie' Delivers A Cracking British Cast In A Starry New Adventure [Trailer]

The well-loved British children's programme, Postman Pat, is being turned into a new movie that will bring the stop motion techniques employed in the series...

Postman Pat: The Movie Trailer

Pat Clifton is well-known in the village of Greendale for, not only his prompt and polite deliveries having been in the postal business for many...

Rush Movie Review

Exhilarating racing action punctuates this true story, which sharply traces the rivalry between two Formula One champs. It's superbly well-shot and edited, with engaging performances...

Advertisement