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Do ya think the SyFy Channel is even aware that all it's original flicks have pretty much ... scratch that ... have exactly the same plots and characters and simply plug in some new creature into the formula? I think they're fully aware of this and they embrace it. This way they can keep the budgets of all their Saturday night originals roughly the same (in the $1.5- $2mil range). With ICE ROAD TERROR we get the same plot and characters we've come to expect and we even get another prehistoric creature freed from the ice (more on this in a minute). But what makes ICE ROAD TERROR stand out from the pack is the fact that it's fun ... really fun. I found myself having more fun with this one than I have with a SyFy flick in a really long time. Let's find out why.
While blasting in the arctic for diamonds some prehistoric creature was released that lived under the ice and snow. The creature is angry and really hungry ... really hungry. As the creature tears its way through the workers at the site, we flash over to two ice truckers Jack (Ty Olsson; who was in TV's BATTLESTAR GALACTICA & the SyFy Original BEHEMOTH) and Neil (Dylan Neal; from DAWSON'S CREEK) who're loading up to haul a huge batch of explosives to the diamond mine site -- a site that is at the end of a very long ice road. Tagging along is a large-chested scientist-environmentalist Rachel (Brea Grant; who was in Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN 2 & 16 episodes of TV's HEROES). I mean come on; ya gotta have the female love interest for one of these rugged truckers who has a heart of gold!!
There's some harrowing moments as we watch the trucks struggle on the ice road and wonder if they're gonna make it (yeah right). But the real fun begins once they get to the diamond mine site. Mostly everyone is dead and our threesome of heroes quickly find out there's a huge creature chomping on limbs and tearing apart bodies. So they high tail it out of there and the creature, which is some mythical Inuit legend, follows them for hundreds of miles to a cabin in the woods. Here the trio, as well as the couple who live at the cabin, make their last stand against the creature. There's sympathetic characters who die; heroic characters who sacrifice themselves for the others; and the standard last man/woman standing who finally get so angry they kill the creature. There's nothing new here ...
... except I found myself having a really fun time!! The film moves at a great pace and gives us lots of action. We wait all of five minutes before we see the creature (which as far as I can make out is called a "Wangchoke;" seriously) and it starts tearing apart the cast just as quickly. Plus writer Keith Shaw (who also wrote the very fun MALIBU SHARK ATTACK) and director Terry Ingram weren't afraid to show off a little blood, guts, and gore. The camera doesn't turn away as the creature rips people apart and throws around body parts and I was pleasantly surprised by the gore content. Of course this is no DEAD ALIVE, but for a SyFy Original we get some pretty fun gory moments.
Most noticeable here is the pacing. We don't get the typical "let's meet the characters for a while" scenes. We meet the characters and get to know them while they're fighting for their lives. The scenes on the ice road are pretty good (in a silly way) as the creature dives and re- surfaces in and out of the ice like some frigid version of the beasts from TREMORS. And of course there's some stuff that just doesn't follow. Example: You'd think Jack, who's an experienced ice trucker, would spend more than five minutes and use more than a bungee cord to secure the explosives in his truck!! His truck catches on fire and he and Rachel must jump into the cab of Neil's truck while they're still driving. After making them jump from one moving truck to another, Neil then decides he needs to stop to check something out. So why didn't he just stop and let them walk to the truck in the first place??!!
But the real fun comes when they make their way to one of Jack's old friends who luckily has the only cabin in about a 500 mile radius!! There they make their stand against the Wangchoke (I swear that's what it's called). Another stand out element in ICE ROAD TERROR is the acting. Everyone involved does a great job and they all look like they're having a really fun time. This energy was infectious and you'll feel it!! The Wangchoke is of course 100% CGI, but it looks way better than the typical SyFy Original. Not since the giant spiders in ICE SPIDERS have I been impressed by a CGI creation. The Wangchoke has realistic movements and has a lot of details in it's design.
For all intents and purposes I should be writing my typical "skip it" review for ICE ROAD TERROR. But due to solid performances, a good looking and scary CGI monster, a really fast pace, and lots of spraying blood and gory, meaty looking body parts being thrown around, ICE ROAD TERROR is a really fun "giant creature attacks" flick. Nice job guys and keep 'em coming like this one!!
Please note that I've given ICE ROAD TERROR, a SyFy Original, a higher rating that SUPER 8. Shame on you J.J. Abrams!!
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer
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