I bought this film on Blu-ray mainly due to it going cheap, as I'd heard some sufficiently positive remarks about it to take the risk and as it includes the usually reliable presence of Nicolas Cage and John Cusack in lead roles.
If you need to learn a bit about the 'story' (more on that in the next paragraph), the Amazon synopsis does a good job without any real spoilers.
Of particular importance, the only thing that I would mention (and which I didn't realise beforehand) is that the featured criminal, several of the victims and the occurrences portrayed are either real or at least based on factual events; this makes the overall effect of watching this 'story' MUCH more significant and I wish I had realised that fact before.
*** It does. for me, also make the way this film is marketed a little distasteful (eg references to the crime thriller 'Seven') and, with hindsight, I was definitely unhappy with the style of musical accompaniment used at the end credits, ESPECIALLY as it includes a series of photos of some of the victims in happier times - I think both these aspects are totally inappropriate for the grim (essentially true) subject matter, what on earth were the producers/marketers thinking (or not probably) ???
On Blu-ray everything looks and sounds as good as you would expect of a modern release, but since it also does not rely on special-effects etc, and as the settings are predominantly in buildings (with occasional scenes in expansive natural settings) AND the soundtrack is essentially 'just' dialogue I don't necessarily think that it is essential to watch it in HD.
Leaving the factual element and those inappropriate aspects of the production/marketing aside, like any film which dramatises the goings-on of a serial killer, and the progress of the police piecing-together their discoveries and trying to solve cases of murder, there is obviously no humour and a lot is rather grim.
As a strong compliment, I think the structure of this film shares a lot of similarities to the (earlier) excellent Fincher film 'Zodiac', especially as that film also had a foundation in fact; both concentrate more on the police activities, despite us knowing in 'The Frozen Ground' the identity of the killer - and that was the right thing to do I think.
So, the telling of events is well-executed and the performance of all the cast is similar accomplished; this leaves me a little confused when I see that many critics disliked the film, although various 'viewer' outlets show more favourable responses, including the reviews on this website of course !
The picture is sharp/bright and flawless and the sound clear albeit rather inactive, BUT due to the predominantly dramatic content I would have thought that the DVD would offer perfectly acceptable viewing quality...
The Blu-ray includes just a 20min featurette which I doubt I'll ever watch, BUT despite that it's still worth pointing out that the US (Region A locked unfortunately) release adds a UV copy, about 90mins of additional featurette-type material AND a writer/director audio commentary - why do we miss out ?
I've attached a photo of the back of the disc box.
So, whilst not in the same league as the similar'ish 'Zodiac' I'll certainly watch this film again at some point due to the notable actor performances, rather than any mystery and tension since they are quite lacking (partly because the killer is identified early on, but 'The Silence of the Lambs' proves that doesn't have to be a hindrance). Yes, like 'Zodiac', this film is also very slow-paced but whilst 'The Frozen Ground' does have those additional shortcomings it is still a very watchable drama which looks and sounds good on Blu-ray.
I watched this recently on Netflix, based on an interest in real life dramas.
The film is covers the events of the serial killer Robert Hansen, who was actively murdering women in Alaska during the 70's and early 80's.
Cast wise very good Nicholas Cage plays Jack Halcombe the investigating police office, we have John Cusack as the killer "Bob" he fits into the role well and even looks quite close in appearance to the real Hansen. Vanessa Hudgens is Cindy Paulson the prostitute who survives an attack from "Bob" and helps Jack to track down the killer. Look out for a few other good supporting cast members including 50 Cent and Dean Norris (Hank- Breaking bad) as a police sergeant.
The story does a good job of unfolding events starting with the rescue of "Cindy" in the opening scenes. As time goes on more bodies are found and it's starting to become clear that the police are probably looking for a serial killer. Jack has to try to piece together events, but eventually manages to get Cindy to assist him, after her initial fear of getting involved. Much of the film explores the cat and mouse nature of the two men, some effective scenes with Cusack showing his dual life (a married man with kids) and his "basement" of terror where he assaults the women.
It's hard to find fault with the film in a lot of ways, everything seems good from the story, screenplay and cast are solid. The directing for me is decent, though had a hard hitter like Michael Mann been the directors chair I think overall polish and style of directing would be stronger. I did find the hand held camera work a bit "camera man had a few too many Jack Daniels" ie a bit shaky for me (not always but a little distracting) However there is one scene showing a woman hunted by the killer,with the viewpoint of her last moments, which did stand out.
The film got mixed reviews I think overall it's good, maybe not quite the classic it might have been (can't really pin down why)..still I found it a good watch, well worth investigating if you like true crime films.
on 9 October 2013
Robert Hansen was a serial killer and when you start watching this movie they assume you already know this and so im not giving anything away because they let you know right from the off who the guilty guy is. But the intriguing and interesting thing about this movie is the length they have to go to to catch the guy. It is reminiscent of the excellent Brian Dennehy tv film "To catch a killer" concerning John Wayne Gacy, and in the same way this shows things mostly from the police's point of view. It is not gory or particularly gruesome, but it is highly charged with suspense as both police and Hansen hunt for the one victim who got away from him. That is the core part of the story and the truth is perhaps enhanced slightly to make it more compelling.What may seem strange is how long it takes cop Cage to go and take a look at the prime suspect, leaving Hansen to wander around freely when the surviving victim has already named him. But the reason for this is that his neighbour had given him an alibi and he was considered by the police to be a normal respectable citizen and so they cleared him and closed the case because the survivor was just a 'dumb hooker,'and to them not a credible witness. But as with the Yorkshire ripper case in the UK, if they had listened to the surviving 'dumb hooker' witness (in that case Marcella Claxton,) they would have got the best of all descriptions and would have nailed Sutcliffe much sooner and saved many lives. The scenario here is frustratingly similar, and no less compelling. Enter Cage's character who fortunately does believe the girl and in this movie Cage is excellent in a non-exuberant performance and so is Cusack who plays Hansen. Not as visually or psychologically disturbing as 'Seven,' or as detailed and in-depth as 'Zodiac,' this is still a very good movie,mostly because it is a true story.
Nicholas Cage has made some messy films, but 'The Frozen Ground' is an excellent film. What we see is the nitty gritty of a real investigation. After the downtown Alaska Police closed the files of several girls gone missing, Nicholas Cage's detective takes on the cases and discovers at least seven missing women which climbs to 17 and possibly 30.
Robert Hansen, played brilliantly by John Cusack, a mild mannered man who lived in Anchorage with his wife and children, is a serial killer. It takes many months, grueling hours and fighting the justice system for Cage's detective to bring him down. This is his story. Vanessa Hudgen plays a young 17 year old on her own, trying to make her way by selling her body for money. She had a very difficult childhood and ended up in Alaska. She was a victim of Robert Hansen, but she got away. The downtown Alaskan Police did not believe her because of her professional life. That is what these women were up against. The throw away women of our society. However, there were good policemen who wanted to serve their population, and this is also their story. The gritty night life is portrayed in all it's ugliness and the black and white film brings it to the fore.
Recommended. prisrob 05-26-14
The background of the film based on real events is set in the
seedy part of downtown 'Anchorage' 'Alaska'
Bodies of women are found, State Trooper 'Sgt Jack Halcombe see's
links to a number to a number of missing down then years, and
comes up with one name 'Robert Hansen' who had been questioned on
Proving 'Hansen' to be the abductor and killer could rest on an
18-year old prostitute, 'Cindy' who had escaped captivity, but....
A solid and often tense drama which will hold your attention throughout.
Unlike an earlier reviewer, I have been a bit of a fan of 'Nicolas Cage'
ever since watching him in movies such as 'Face/Off' 'Con-Air' and 'The
Rock' in this, he's superb as the investigating officer.
'John Cusack' plays a convincing role as the abductor'
( currently available on Region 'A' it will be available on Region 'B'
13th January 2014 ...well worth taking time out to watch )
on 18 January 2014
I confess to not being a fan of either Cage or Cusack, however, they both produce outstanding, and sensitive, performances, as does Vanessa Hudgens whose character somehow managed to escape the clutches of Cusack's murderer, in this vivid portrayal of events leading to the capture, and well deserved conviction, of the brutal and clinically insane murderer.
There are good performances from the supporting actors also. Pointless attempting to explain further how this movie pans out as other reviewers have covered most aspects of this gruesome tale. Suffice to say it is a film which creates huge amounts of tension and will keep anyone watching it glued until the credits have finished rolling, the sound track has some decent moments also.
An all round well made production and well worth watching.
on 11 February 2015
The film sets it sites not so high for a kind of more usual thriller from a prolonged real life situation of really abhorrent sexual abuse and murder. Producers could have gone down the route of looking more at the social sickness which allows such situations or hides them and where authorities support them, or even the monstrosity of being a psychopath. However, it does incorporate all of these elements in a basic but satisfying way for its true life subject, while concentrating on the thriller aspect.
This makes it very successful, as it makes for a very good thriller. It does turn the real events more into a kind of thriller by numbers, but that is its intentions and the film does this very well, while not bearing fruit far beyond the remit of a typical, good thriller.
Maybe there is some disappointment in that the real events were converted so much into a entertainment thriller without exploring the issues more. But, in the end, there is a lot to be said about letting the events be seen in a blunt, simple fashion without deeper exploration. The effect of the simple, tense, galling portrayal of that awful, ongoing series of psychopath made crimes makes for a shocking watch in itself, enabling the audience to feel rather deeply about the historical events without needing to go any further. Largely, by what has been decided for this film, it's rather wisely made I concluded, avoiding mostly the much more difficult concerns it could have dealt with.
Still, there's something of a bitter aftertaste in the thriller element being perhaps a little too entertainment sided for me, from these horrible, tragic events.
on 21 January 2015
For a first time effort from director Scott Walker this is not a bad attempt at all. America is a vast sprawling wilderness, none more so than in Alaska, which is very cold and very desolate - the perfect place to be a serial killer, to have somewhere remote to bury all the bodies, knowing the chance of them being found is very unlikely.
We've seen Badlands, Man hunter, Silence of the Lambs, Henry, portrait of a serial Killer, Severn, and all the others, so how does this serial killer movie hold up in comparison? Not as good as those others, but this is still worth buying. All those other movies had more famous killers, our Robert Hansen is a bit less known, a bit more anonymous than say Dahmer or Dennis Neilsen in the UK. This killer wasn't a cannibal, he was a rapist and hunter...he went after the women like he was hunting for deer in the forest...still pretty grim either way, that's why I was surprised this only got a 15 rating... this should have been an 18 easily...
So, Ranger Nicolas Cage is tracking down John Cusack, who looks interestingly like the real man, and play the nervous, awkward killer with a certain discomfort in his own skin. Even though this man was married and had kids in real life, there was a huge under current of a double- life and propensity for violence. Cage is notorious for over-acting and being histrionic, but he keeps it mostly under wraps here, although some of his facial expressions don't always fit the scene or the emotion he's trying to convey...
What's also a bit irritating is that we've got the old NYPD blue type of filming, almost like a documentary, where the camera is always shifting around, never stays in one place long enough to properly focus. We don't get many stills or close ups... But the bleak landscapes, the realistic depravity of the down town nightlife and the overall intensity and atmosphere generated is gripping enough to keep us watching till the very end, even if the end itself is a bit lame, where he just confesses. The plot of the movie is mainly regarding the evidence they need to catch him and get an initial warrant, as Hansen is very mendacious and manipulative, he kind of co-operates, but in another sense doesn't at all... Cusack does those scenes very well, when he distances himself from the answers, seems hesitant and muttering, then has a verbose and violent outburst... The younger female actors do well as sleazy and tacky prostitutes and they seem to capture the mood and times in darkest, deepest Alaska...
This didn't do any box office at all, and it was the first attempt at a movie by a new director, for what it is, there's nothing wrong with this, it's too easy to be pedantic or nit pick minor things...this is still good viewing and worth seeing.
on 1 September 2013
This film takes place in cold conservative Alaska where there is no crime and everyone has a job because they all own guns...and something about the oil companies. This production is based on the true story of serial killer and rapist Robert Hansen played far too convincingly by John Cusack. After prostitute Cindy Paulson (Vanessa Hudgens) escapes from Hansen, the cases of unsolved crimes are given to Jack Holcolme (Nicolas Cage) the only cop in America who has trouble getting a warrant.
This is not a who-dun-it, but rather the story leading up to the arrest of Robert Hansen. It gives you glimpses of Anchorage's red light district filled with pimps, prostitutes, strippers, drug dealers, and a moose. This is a gritty tale. 5 stars for those who enjoy true crime stories.
Parental Guide: F-bombs, stripper nudity. The film deals with rape, but does not show it. Limited amounts of blood, relatively tame on the graphics. It is not an exploitation style film.
on 24 March 2015
A subdued thriller with decent performances throughout, The Frozen Ground ticks most of the right boxes.
It's has a great moody atmosphere and populates the story with some real grimy characters. The fact it is based in true events gives it another gritty edge and provides some substance to the action.
John Cusack plays against type and is suitably creepy in an unshowy role. Nicholas Cage can swing from monosybilic or total nut job but here he has a cool restraint which suits the character well.
The action is decent if fairly rote but then being based on a true story means there will be some constraints. The story is tragic and gripping and overall you really do will the police to find the evidence they need.
A thriller that genuinely thrills is rare and The Frozen Ground just about pulls it off. Worth a watch.