Beyond the Pole (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner10/02/2010

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 90 mins

Watchable comedy with an engaging premise and strong performances but the script struggles to find the right tone and it's never quite as funny as it should have been.

What's it all about?
Directed by David L. Williams, Beyond the Pole is a British mockumentary that follows idiotic eco-warriors Mark Bark-Jones (Stephen Mangan) and his best friend Brian Tongue (Rhys Thomas) as they attempt to become the first carbon neutral, vegetarian, organic expedition team to reach the North Pole unassisted. Along the way they encounter a savage polar bear and meet two gay Norwegians (Lars Arentz-Hansen and True Blood's Alexander Skarsgard) who attempt to sabotage their mission by offering them biscuits.

Meanwhile, half of the documentary crew stays behind in England with Mark's other best friend Graham (Mark Benton), who monitors their position from his communications centre in a caravan, and Brian's long-suffering girlfriend Sandra (Rosie Cavaliero), who confesses that she hasn't told Brian that she's pregnant.

The Good
Mangan and Thomas spark off each other nicely and make an appealing comic duo, even if both their characters are frequently annoying. There's also strong support from Mark Benton and Rosie Cavaliero, while Patrick Baladi and Zoe Telford make the most of their brief appearances as Mark's brother and soon-to-be-ex-wife and Skarsgard and Arentz-Hansen are drily amusing as the gay Norwegians.

The film was partly shot in Greenland and Iceland so the landscapes are genuinely impressive, lending the film a certain air of authenticity while also generating sympathy for the actors.

The Bad
The main problem is that Williams struggles to find the right tone – the script is never as witty or as laugh-out-loud funny as it ought to be and it's also extremely dark in places, which doesn't seem to gel with the buffoonish satire of the early scenes (e.g. Mark blocking the path of a gas-guzzler and likening his protest to Tiananmen Square).

Worth seeing?
In short, Beyond the Pole is well acted and never less than watchable but it's not as funny or as clever as it should have been.

Film Trailer

Beyond the Pole (15)
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Content updated: 14/12/2017 09:50

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