Alaska (1996)

Director: Fraser C Heston

Writer: Andy Burg, Scott Myers (Screenplay)

Starring: Thora Birch, Vincent Kartheiser, Dirk Benedict, Charlton Heston, Duncan Fraser

 

Plot: While searching for their missing father in the mountains of Alaska, two siblings come across a baby polar bear on the run from a pair of poachers.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderful Adventure Family Film

 

Story: Alaska starts as we meet the Barnes family, father Jake (Benedict) a small plane pilot and his kids Jessie (Birch) and Sean (Kartheiser), the family has started a new life in Alaska after their death of Jake’s wife and mother of Jessie and Sean. While Jessie has embraced this new life enjoying the beautiful sites, Sean is struggling with new life. We also get to meet to poachers Perry (Heston) and Koontz (Fraser) who have been hunting polar bears.

When their father goes missing, Jessie and Sean aim to go in search of him through the Alaskan wilderness discovering a captured baby polar bear cub that they release who joins them on their adventure, which only attracts the poachers attention as they find themselves chased through the wilderness by the poachers too in a race against time to find their father.

 

Thoughts on Alaska

 

Characters/PerformanceJessie is the sister of the siblings, she has embraced the change to Alaska learning to be part of the team with her father, while they both want to search for their father, she is the most prepared of the two. Sean hates his new life in Alaska and wants to move back to Chicago but you can clearly see he is grieving his mother with his behaviour, but with his father missing he will do everything he can to find him, learning to love the beautiful landscape they are part of now. Jake is the father of the family that has given up his 747-pilot job to start a new life in the small town in Alaska, he does spend most of the film trapped in his plane but his character gives Jessie and Sean the reason for going on their adventure. Perry and Koontz are two poachers hunting polar bears, they cross paths with the kids as they menacingly try to recapture the polar bear cub that they had released.

Performance wise, Thora Birch and Vincent Kartheiser are both great in the lead roles as the children in search of their father. Dirk doesn’t have much to do but does what he needs to well. Charlton Heston as the menacing poacher does seem to enjoy the role he plays in the movie.

StoryThe story of two young teenagers going into the wilderness to find their missing father is a nice tried and tested formula, this style of film seemed to be the rave for family films around the time too, so to stand out you had to do something different. We get the moments of peril which are good and well-paced but we also get the moments of discovery which are just as important. Obviously, there are negatives here which include the idea the adults are clueless when searching for people in crashes and poachers being just evil people. I would also like to point out, that it is very unlikely a polar bear mother is just going to accept another cub, well that is what David Attenborough has taught me.

Adventure/FamilyThe adventure the kids get to go on is one I remember watching as a kid going, I wanna do that and I still would like to. The family side of this film is about the unity between a broken family doing everything to stay together and of course having a cute little polar bear helping them out.

SettingsAlaska as a setting, beautiful, stunning, peril filled and perfect for the story being told.

EffectsWe only have a few effects in use here, most feels practical with the stunt work and working with a potential deadly animal in a polar bear.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of the better kids work with animal films of the 90s, one that gives you hope in humanity and a wonderful setting.

 

Overall: Family night sorted.

Rating

 

 

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