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.