Friday 27 December 2013

EXPEDITION TO THE END OF THE WORLD - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Seeing Something Cool With Knobs

Global warming has opened up fjords in Greenland that no human has set foot upon in thousands of years. A group of scientists and artists are the first to traverse this unexplored territory.

Expedition to the End of the World (2013) *1/2 Dir. Daniel Dencik

Review By Greg Klymkiw

The Tkke Opmalt Fjords in the northernmost regions of that odd behemoth of nothingness known as Greenland have finally become accessible to human exploration thanks to global warming and the alarming rate of melting that's caused ice, much of it millions of years old, to give way to boat travel. Daniel Dencik had the great idea to accompany a crew of scientists and artists on the maiden research voyage to this vast, untouched land and the pleasure of being able to see it through the lens of a camera that was, via the eyes of the filmmakers. Viewing it for the first time had the potential to be as thrilling as anything one was likely to see on a big screen.

Especially stirring is when the crew make discoveries like new lifeforms and evidence of human existence from thousands of years ago. While it's rare to have such opportunities to experience such miraculous finds, it's impossible to shake the disappointing of feeling that you're on a ship of fools.

As long as the film sticks to just the facts, M'am, it's A-OK, especially when the camera is pointed at the topographical wonders that are truly miraculous. Nine times out of ten, though, we can't escape members of the research crew opening their mouths and spewing projectiles of often boneheaded existentialist nonsense in that serious, humourless way one comes to expect from Euro-types with too much babble-speak cascading about their collective cerebella.

It soon becomes clear that director Dencik, is less interested in the very thing that could have allowed the movie to soar, but is instead content to concern himself with the whack-job thoughts of a whole passel of knobs. This amounts to a frustrating viewing experience. You just want these people to get out of the way and shut their traps so as to blissfully experience the joy of land that human eyes have not seen closeup for a few millennia.

My desire to just punch all of these pseudo-philosophers in the face mounted with every second of the film's running time which, is far from overlong but feels like it anyway. Dencik ultimately proves to be no Werner Herzog. When we travelled to the Antarctic with the curmudgeonly German auteur in Encounters at the End of the World, we were spoiled by having a real filmmaker with a sense of adventure as our guide and a truly mixed bag of individuals who seldom took double-jointed nose-dives into their own rectal cavities only to then jettison up through the viscera to shoot out from within their esophagus to inflict their half-bsked wisdom in our collective faces.

The movie has no tension whatsoever and its pathetic attempts at creating it (save for a real ice flow water level situation) amount to a silly manufactured fear of polar bears and the presence of a big oil exploratory boat. Neither of these bear (as it were) any fruit, as it turns out our hosts on this journey are all insufferably pretentious nimrods. I can think of no worse perspective for a director to take on what should have been an incredible, mind-bending and possibly even moving sojourn.

"Expedition to the End of the World" opens today at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema in Toronto via Kinosmith.