Our science fiction movie opens with an ominous musical cue and a shot of an ice cave, in light and shadow with the blue tint of the ice popping out dramatically. A helicopter appears and lands to pick up something found in the ice. It is a large block of ice that is then transported to a remote, arctic station, inhabited by scientists. You could easily infer from this description that you are watching “John Carpenter’s The Thing”. Let’s face it, that is very close to the set up of the action in the earlier movie. This movie however has no real horror elements to it, a much more plausible scientific premise and a cast that includes a lot of fine actors but none as great as Kurt Russell. This movie comes two years after “The Thing” and is a serious eco-drama that has science fiction elements but really wants to comment on the world we live in today.
Watching this movie again for this project has been one of the best experiences of the new year. It may not be the finest movie, the most challenging film or a game changer, but it is the most patriotic movie I’m going to see this year. That says something about a movie set for most of it’s first half in Russia. You will know why it mattered the U.S. stayed strong in the face of the cold war, and not a shot is fired by any soldier or warship. This is a movie about “Freedom”, from the point of view of someone who can barely contemplate the concept because of the world they live in.
Robin Williams gives a great, subdued performance as Vladamir Ivanoff, a musician from a Russian circus who comes to America and finds that “Freedom” is a lot of things, some of them painful, but in the end mostly life affirming .