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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Movie Review - The Frozen Ground

The Frozen Ground (2013)
Starring Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, and Vanessa Hudgens
Directed by Scott Walker
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***

Poor Nicolas Cage.  He (along with perhaps Cuba Gooding, Jr.) has certainly become the butt of jokes about what NOT to do with your career after you've won an Oscar.  Cage has made low budget B-movies his bread and butter over the last five years so much so that people seem to have forgotten that he could actually be taken seriously.  Perhaps The Frozen Ground was Cage's attempt to show that he isn't the joke people thought he was.  While he certainly doesn't embarrass himself here, Cage doesn't exactly redeem himself fully as Alaska State Trooper Jack Halcombe who is investigating a series of murders of young women in Anchorage in the early 1980s.

Admittedly, Cage isn't solely to blame for his lack of restitution.  First time director and screenwriter Scott Walker's virginal chops are evident as he can't quite craft characters and dialog that ring true or feel fully developed.  While he certainly is respectful of the true story upon which this is based, there's a grittiness that's missing despite his attempts to achieve it.  Admittedly, part of the issue is that Vanessa Hudgens simply isn't believable as a prostitute who is the only victim to escape the clutches of serial killer Robert Hansen (John Cusack).  When she dances on a stripper pole or snorts coke, I found myself laughing when I know I shouldn't.  Once again, like Cage, I'm not 100% sure it's her fault.  As an actress, Hudgens fights an uphill battle trying to rid herself of the "Disney image," but with the right script, she may be able to get there (although I'm also not quite sure she has the ability to successfully blossom into a respectable actress either).

Perhaps I'm being a little harsher on The Frozen Ground than I should because the film is certainly watchable with a storyline that consistently builds tension.  The true life aspect of the whole thing adds a disturbing element that gives us a rooting interest in the characters.  Scott Walker hasn't completely struck out with his first film, but he needs to up the ante a bit for any future projects on his horizon.

The RyMickey Rating:  C  

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