Review: ‘Nova Zembla’

A love story, a large ship and nasty icebergs are all key ingredients of "Nova Zembla."

A love story, a large ship and nasty icebergs are all key ingredients of “Nova Zembla,” though Dutch producer-turned-director Reinout Oerlemans’ second effort is no “Titanic.” The Lowlands’ first indigenous 3D pic transforms the sea voyage of late-16th-century explorer Willem Barentsz — whose attempt to find a northern passage to Asia ended in a prolonged stay on the islands of Novaya Zemlya in northwestern Russia when his vessel got stuck in the ice — into a cold and action-light blockbuster. A $6.9 million local haul is solid, though offshore, the pic is likelier to harpoon ancillary biz.

Gerrit (Robert de Hoog) is a puppy-eyed writer infatuated with the daughter (model Doutzen Kroes) of cartographer Petrus Plancius (Jan Decleir), who’s convinced Barentsz (Derek de Lint) to set out in search of a passage to Asia via the North Pole. Hugo Heinen’s screenplay’s too light on historical background and character development, with Gerrit, the expedition’s official chronicler, too much of a blank-slate protag to make auds care. Widescreen pic lacks overall bigscreen wow despite the 3D, with the pic coming off as a technically competent but narratively uninvolving History Channel-like reenactment. Acting is weak.

Nova Zembla

Netherlands

Production

A Benelux Film Distributors release of an Eyeworks Film & TV Drama presentation and production, in association with Inspire Pictures, RTL Entertainment. Produced by Hans de Weers, Reinout Oerlemans. Executive producers, Ronald van Wechem, Maarten Swart. Co-producer, Sim van Veen. Directed by Reinout Oerlemans. Screenplay, Hugo Heinen, based on an idea by Oerlemans.

Crew

Camera (color, wide-screen, 3D), Lennert Hillege; editor, Michiel Reichwein; music, Melcher Meir-mans, Merlijn Snitker, Chrisnanne Wiegel; production designer, Harry Ammerlaan; costume designers, Marion Boot, Marian van Nieuwenhuizen. Reviewed at Utopolis, Zoetermeer, Netherlands, Dec. 3, 2011. Running time: 108 MIN.

With

Robert de Hoog, Derek de Lint, Victor Reinier, Teun Kuilboer, Semmy Schilt, Jan Decleir, Doutzen Kroes.

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