Against the Ice Parent Guide
Effectively portraying the bone-chilling cold of its setting, this film is a convincing portrait of courage and tenacity against long odds.
Parent Movie Review
Following the tragic deaths of those who embarked in 1906 on the failed Denmark Expedition to Greenland, concern remained about the fate of the surviving maps and journals. Determined to bring the data home and to prevent an American claim to an area known as Peary Land, Captain Ejnar Mikkelsen (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his crew have returned to Greenland. But the first sledding voyage failed to find the cairn which holds the documents, and left the only other experienced sledder, Jorgensen (Gísli Örn Garðarsson), with a case of severe frostbite and most of his toes. Mikkelsen needs volunteers to make a second trip across Greenland, but the crew are not interested in a multi-month trek, especially with the navigable window of ice melt closing rapidly as fall approaches. The only member of the crew willing to go along is the young, inexperienced engineer, Iver Iversen (Joe Cole). The trip will be grueling, and it will take everything they’ve got to return before their ship has to leave, or risk being frozen in the ice for a long Arctic winter.
If you’re one of those people (like me) who are far more emotionally shaken by animal deaths than human deaths in film, you’re going to want to give this a miss. The life of a sled dog on an expedition may be exciting, but it’s also dangerous and, in many cases, brief. Some parents will also object to the movie’s five sexual expletives (although I would plead some justification based on circumstances). The only other area of concern is a rather grisly scene where a man’s toes are amputated. Obviously, this is never going to be a great choice for young children but it’s perfectly suitable for teen audiences.
Against the Ice is one of those films that benefits from being shot on location. The rugged, alien icescapes of Greenland and Iceland both ground the story and give the actual history a better context. These aren’t just barren snowy fields – they’re rock-strewn riverbeds, impassable gorges and crevasses, and stony beaches. It’s an environment which is both beautiful and terrifying, completely inhospitable to human life. Unfortunately, that stunning vista is broken by a very rubbery CGI polar bear, which is more laughable than anything.
The bear isn’t the only problem, and with such compelling performances, it’s a real shame. Coster-Waldau and Cole are both phenomenal, but the script misses so many opportunities to expand upon their relationship or the fundamental tension of their circumstances. In spite of those failings, though, this is a compelling look at the costs of exploration, the dangers of the Arctic, and the harrowing demands placed on individuals by their need to survive and succeed. It is also perhaps best enjoyed by donning some cozy socks and sitting by a warm fire with a mug of something hot.Directed by Peter Flinth. Starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Joe Cole, Charles Dance. Running time: 102 minutes. Theatrical release March 2, 2022. Updated March 2, 2022
Watch the trailer for Against the Ice
Against the Ice
Rating & Content Info
Why is Against the Ice rated TV-MA? Against the Ice is rated TV-MA by the MPAA Animal harm, language, smoking.
Violence: A man with severe frostbite has his toes amputated. Dogs are killed by falling, being shot, exhaustion, and a bear attack which also injures a character. There is a brief reference to survival cannibalism.
Sexual Content: Characters briefly discuss prostitution and sexually transmitted disease.
Profanity: There are five uses of sexual expletives, six uses of scatological profanity, and occasional uses of mild curses and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A character is seen drinking for the purposes of anesthesia before surgery. Another character is briefly seen with a drink.
Page last updated March 2, 2022
Against the Ice Parents' Guide
Who are some other famous Arctic explorers? What are some of the historical drivers of Arctic exploration? What was the North West Passage? Has it ever been found? How many lives were spent in the search of the Passage? Why was it considered so important?
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This film is based on Ejnar Mikkelsen’s autobiography, Two Against the Ice. A more fictional approach to historical Arctic exploration can be found in Dan Simmons’ The Terror, which tells the harrowing tale of the Franklin Expedition – plus some supernatural horrors.
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Other films about the dangers of exploration and survival include The Lost City of Z, Into the Wild, 127 Hours, Cast Away, Jungle, and Arctic. Movies about sled dogs include Togo, The Call of the Wild, Eight Below, and The Great Alaskan Race. If you’re looking for a film about the joys of long-term isolation, and don’t mind some more intense content concerns, you might enjoy The Lighthouse, The Lodge, The Shining, or even The Thing.