Set during the Alaskan gold rush of the late 1800's. In his efforts to gain control of a small mining town, Sean McLennon is buying up every mining claim that becomes available, usually ...
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Anneke von der Lippe
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Mr. Hill's last TV work, taped and aired before his death, with outdoor scenes taped in New York City. Highlights of this show include "A Streetcar Named Desirée" (a Tennessee Williams ... See full summary »
Set during the Alaskan gold rush of the late 1800's. In his efforts to gain control of a small mining town, Sean McLennon is buying up every mining claim that becomes available, usually after the deaths of the previous owners at the hands of McLennon's 'assistants'. One of the miners targeted by McLennon, a half-Indian hunter named Hudson Saanteek, manages to escape his hired thugs and comes back into town looking to re-establish his claim and get revenge. McLennon and his men have the advantange of numbers and weapons, but Saanteek has his survival skills and knowledge of the Alaskan wilderness. Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher <email@example.com>
In the beginning of the movie, Sean McClennon (James Caan's character) states that "non-citizens" have no right to claims. Alaska was not even a US territory at the time, so in fact, Sean McClennon had no right to any claims as well. See more »
Had "North Star" been made in the 1940's or 1950's and had starred John Wayne or Charlton Heston, it would have been hailed as an exciting wilderness adventure, featuring excellent chase sequences and solid characters. However, it was made in 1995, and while the story had a good deal of potential as a great, if mindless, adventure story, it unfortunately is too tame for modern viewers. They will probably be either very bored or just not interested. While the characters are effective and the story is loaded with some great stuff, it simply pales to films of its kind, including "Cliffhanger" and "White Fang."
That said, the cast is excellent, if a little miscast. James Caan is the villian, a man maddened by the isolated confounds of Nome Alaska. Having lived there for many years, I knew many people in his situation, and he does as a good a job as possible showing the effects such desolate surroundings can have on the human spirit. He nails the performance and shows why he's the celebrated actor that he is, and he makes dialogue such as "Nobody dies until I tell them to die!" sound miraculously believable.
Christopher Lambert also brings passion to the role of the half-breed Indian who is trying to protect his land from Caan. While it is obviously a miscast (he's part Eskimo like I'm Clark Gable!), he does a commendable job as a man torn between loyalties, protecting a land from a native people who don't necessarily trust him. I don't think he was the ideal choice for the role, simply because he's obviously French, but the subtly and haunted characteristics that he demonstrates here shows a great deal of flair and concern for making this film work.
Between he and Caan, not to mention an altogether underused Catherine McCormick, they almost manage to lift this tame adventure story above standards. Unfortunately, good perfomances can't save it. Only style and more over-the-top actions scenes would have, and that is where the movie is lacking. Still, it's not a bad film to watch during the dog-days of summer for a little pick-me-up.
**1/2 out of ****
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