Review: ‘Antarctic Journal’

Some awesome widescreen lensing, with New Zealand convincingly repping the polar wastes, can't compensate for the dramatic emptiness of "Antarctic Journal," in which the script gets lost along with the explorers. Ambitious psychodrama-cum-supernatural chiller has racked up a respectable but untriumphant 1 million admissions since May 19 release.

Some awesome widescreen lensing, with New Zealand convincingly repping the polar wastes, can’t compensate for the dramatic emptiness of “Antarctic Journal,” in which the script gets lost along with the explorers. Ambitious psychodrama-cum-supernatural chiller has racked up a respectable but untriumphant 1 million admissions since May 19 release thanks to local star power. Offshore, however, sledding looks even tougher.

A six-man South Korean expedition, led by Choi Do-hyeong (Song Gang-ho, from “Memories of Murder”), plans to reach the Antarctic’s remotest point, known as the Point of Inaccessibility, unaided and by foot — something only done once before, by a Russian team in the ’50s. But they’re already behind schedule, and, in two months, the sun will set for half the year. When the youngest team member, Kim Min-jae (Yu Ji-tae, the villain in “Old Boy”), discovers a journal from a 1922 British expedition, the haunting starts in earnest. Sorting out who’s who isn’t made easier in the early stages by all the goggles and headgear, but film’s biggest problem is there’s very little real human drama to parallel the physical bravado. Tech package is fine at all levels.

Antarctic Journal

South Korea

Production

A Showbox/Mediaplex release of an IM Pictures Corp. presentation of a Sidus Pictures production, in association with Mirovision. (International sales: Mirovision, Seoul.) Produced by Lim Heui-cheol. Executive producer, Choi Wan. Co-executive producers, Cha Seung-jae, Romeo Noh. Directed by Yim Phil-sung. Screenplay Yim, Bong Jun-ho, Lee Hae-jun.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Jeong Jeong-hun; editor, Kim Seon-min; music, Kenji Kawai; production designer, Hwang In-jun; art director, Jeong Hyeon-cheol; costumes, Lee Seo-jin. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 16, 2005. Running time: 113 MIN.

With

Song Gang-ho, Yu Ji-tae, Kim Gyeong-ik, Park Heui-sun, Yun Je-mun, Choi Deok-mun, Gang Hye-jeong.
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