If you know me even a little, you should be aware of my love for Mads Mikkelsen. The accusations of blurred opinions because of my ‘crush’ were common enough to make me simply stop elaborating on that subject. And now it seems that Mads is being a target of a lot of unpleasantries because of Polar. This made me think back of my story with this adorkable Dane and how I actually started seeing him differently.
Polar is not a good film. I barely watched it in 2 approaches and it made me feel embarrassed. Too many times there were the complete idiocy and completely pointless shocks. There is however a reason for that. The film is based on a comic book by Victor Santos, produced by Dark Horse. What I can tell from my experience is that you need a huge talent to make a comic look good on screen. There’s no need to discuss all the things that Marvel has been doing right, DC has been doing wrong, how cool Scott Pilgrim is or how fun it is to watch Spiderverse.
But R-rated comics is another kettle of fish. Taking Deadpool as the easiest example – Tim Miller and Ryan Reynolds created the character based on the comics. The word ‘based’ is key here. They didn’t copy him one to one. They didn’t copy and paste Deadpool the way he was. No. Ryan’s ‘Pool is a completely different person to any other Deadpool by any other screenwriter and so on. Creating the jokes and the tone of the film, Wade Wilson had to adapt to the real world, not the other way around.
And this is why Polar fails greatly. It wasn’t as creators had thought. They hadn’t thought through every damn aspect of the comic-book reality or how wrong even the most real things can look in the film. Instead, they created a comic-film. And since the comic has barely any conversations, the script couldn’t get much out of it.
Films have completely different rules. As the audience, we expect specific elements out of action movie and it is nothing wrong or anyhow less creative. It is simply the way our minds work and how we perceive things. Drawings or animations are different to live action. Always. And in the case of Polar, it was not done right. Trying to make the whole experience comic-like, they forgot to put some film elements into it. I guess this was clearly done for the comic fans. Because the characters are as flat as they could and there’s no place for thinking. Everything is already said and the plot is as lousy as it sounds. And then Vanessa Hudgens character who is a complete waste of space for the whole film appears to be someone more? Woah, I didn’t expect that! (Yeah, right.) The same goes for the killing team after Mads. Each of them has the standard villain assassin personality that can be simply shown by the easiest exertions.
What else? Well, if I was to list the best aspects of it, Matt Lucas would appear in the top five. His role was schematic as them all, but his acting was giving it a new life. The other thing was the editing which was sort of experimental. The parts where we got “memories” and all these drastic killings of Black Kaiser were done in a neat way. Gore, but neat. What I didn’t like though, was adding the titles of all the places as the part of the film instead of trying to make them only noticeable. It was very comic-like move and it made me distracted. Especially since there were plenty of them.
Then, of course, there was Mads being himself.
Frankly, I wasn’t planning to write this. I only started this because of some commentary that Mads needed money. This guy doesn’t need money. He’s a family man, never had any dramas out in the open, his kids are already adults and there’s no debt Carlsberg’s advertisements couldn’t pay. Why playing in this crap? Because he is the person that gives the body and the soul to every character. Even with the smallest piece of MCU villain, he tries to understand them and their reasoning. He picks roles he finds interesting. He isn’t a method acting, rather an empathic one.
Exactly the same logic goes here. Kaiser is a very interesting character. And Mads plays him perfectly, considering what we were given. If you think about a character from an actor perspective, you’ll start to perceive films better and maybe even enjoy them more. After watching an interview with Mikkelsen, you’ll know how devoted he can be. His Kaiser didn’t have much to say, but I know that he did his best. If you don’t believe me, go watch Arctic. It is a fascinating picture where he actually proves how to express completely different human being only with his face. (Seriously, go see that, I’ve watched Arctic half a year ago and I’m still stunned.)
I don’t regret watching Polar. Not exactly. I love watching Mads anywhere and I would watch it anyway. But frankly, if you don’t have a big necessity, don’t. Go read a book or binge another show. This is yet another Netflix film that shall be soon forgotten (do you even remember that Jared Leto played Yakuza in some Netflix film?). I think they have to focus more on quality before actually trying to sell comic-book adaptations. Or any other film.
Oh and for the record. Even Mads’ bare ass in the snow didn’t save Polar.