The Ice Storm by Ang Lee is not a movie worth seeing. If I were a bolder person I would stop the review of this worthless film right after the first sentence, but because I’m just vindictive enough to eviscerate this catastrophe of a movie through my words, a few more sentences are to follow.
Where should I begin? I suppose I should start by saying there are a few tolerable things about the movie – a couple of interesting shots, (cinematographically speaking, of course,) appear. I liked the shots which went from a normal, mid-range position to an overhead one by angling upward, which I saw in two scenes – one where Wendy was kissing Mikey and the shot of Janey defeatedly crawling into bed to sleep her bad night off. There was also a nice shot of the Hood couple at the end, wordlessly waiting outside while Mikey’s father mourns the loss of his son. I liked the bashing of president Nixon, who is as bad a president as this film is a story. I also appreciated the fact that an ice storm was shown in a film because having lived through one myself, I find them fascinating.
That’s about where any praise I could give this wretched flick stops. I suppose you could say there is acceptable acting – there sure is the cast to expect such quality from – but how good can the actors be playing parts from this pitiful script? Not that great, because there isn’t much there to go on. As simplistic as it sounds, the story just isn’t good. The entire movie centers on this idea of selfishness and sexual obsession found in every character which makes it difficult to become attached to any of them because quite frankly, none of them seem like good people. The only redeeming character, (and interesting part of the storyline), is Mikey Carver, who quickly kills any affection the viewer could develop as he crosses the line between childlike innocence and complete stupidity by playing outside in the middle of an ice storm, and then he dies. Well, shit. What now?
It’s not as if this movie misses the mark on a certain aspect of being human – sexual promiscuity, drug usage, and lies certainly can be found in any society – but there’s just so much of it that after a while I just didn’t care anymore about what happened to these unintelligent people. At every moment of the film, a character is thinking only of themselves and how to achieve this feeling of accomplishment, usually from gratuitous sexual acts which result in infidelity to their marriages. Christina Ricci’s character Wendy may not be married but she certainly attempts to rob others of their innocence by forcing her nymphomaniac self unpon them. (“I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.” Um, what? Aren’t you 14? Go the hell home and study or something.) It made the characters too one-dimensional, and all on the antagonistic side, for me to appreciate.
One thing the film also missed the mark on was opportunity. The thought of parallelling comic book / toy stories with that of the film’s story itself was brilliant, (such as the army doll saying only, “Mayday, mayday, mayday!” while Mikey was getting into trouble, and followed with Paul reading the otomopoeia pertaining to a sizzling sound as Mikey is getting fried by the electric wire), but it was present in too little of the story to really portray its message adequately. The film also really didn’t do justice to the intricately beautiful but dangerous nature of the ice storm itself, and I’m not sure whether that was from lack of cinematography on the subject or music, perhaps it was both. Either way, the drama just wasn’t there for me. These two elements could have paralleled the story so fantastically but just weren’t explored enough to justify the boring quiteness, unexitement, and lack of energy in the film. These are such strong premises which were totally put to waste, although if that was from Lee’s direction or Schamus’s writing, I don’t know.
All in all this movie had great potential but ultimately fell flat. I’m not sure why it was even titled, “The Ice Storm,” rather it should have just been titled, “The Sex Party,” since that’s all it really focused on. These pathetic, commiserable people who only seem to have one thing in mind were so focused on hurting each other in attempt to graitfy their own self-centered desires that they disregarded the really important things in life, such as their families. Subsequently they deserved the heartbreak given to them at the end – is it any wonder that a child died when the parents push aside their responsibilities as parents in order to be petty people?
Continuing on that note, Is it any wonder that Wendy would become the neighbourhood slut when her parents didn’t teach her any better through example? And is it any wonder that a movie with a horribly downplayed climax, awful characters, lack of music and mediocre cinematography would be so deplorable?! No, I don’t think it is. And the notion that selfishness destroys relationships is a message that could have been depicted in a much better way than this feeble attempt at filmmaking. If there was another message, it certainly missed me, and I don’t see any point in finding it because watching this trash again would be an abominable waste of time.
This was written in Fall of 2012 for a Screenwriting class taught by Jonathan Eig at Montgomery College.