SyFy Channel Movie Review: Ice Road Terror (2011)

An icy Alaskan road becomes more treacherous for two truckers after a mining operation awakens a dormant prehistoric creature.

Oh, SyFy Saturday, how I love thee. You offer up such delicious campy fodder, following the formula of some sort of
creature trying to eat some group of human, if not threaten the entire planet. Your clichés, your CGI critters, your WTH? action scenes. What’s not to love?

This story involves two truckers hauling explosives to a mine site. Along for the ride is a girl environmental scientist-type. In the opening scene, the creature tears into the miners when it’s first awakened. Later, it goes after the trucks/truckers/girl, following them to a home belonging to friends of the truckers.

Movies set in my state  are usually rife with errors. Like the one about killer ants, where there was a road sign stating it was so many miles to Nome and 200+ to Fairbanks. There is a road from Nome to Teller, to the north, that is about 70 miles long. But you can’t get to Fairbanks from either town via road. There is no road to Fairbanks from that area.

photo from http://www.uhaul.com, from Diavik Diamond Mines, Inc.

Back to the most recent offerings, Ice Road Terror. Now, I haven’t watched the History Channel series, Ice Road Trucker, and after a little research about ice roads, I was more or less satisfied on that score. With the following exceptions: (1) While ice roads are along waterways such as bays and rivers, having one character tell another, “There’s nothing between us and the cold blue sea but soft ice” is wrong. The trucks left out of the Fairbanks area, a decidedly landlocked community. If you are traveling over an ice road that was constructed over the sea, you need to check your GPS. (2) The truck depot manager complains about sending trucks over the soft ice because it’s breakup, and it’s 34 degrees out there, and duh! ice melts at 32, so the road is dangerous! Stretching things here. Ice thick enough to hold semi trucks (1 meter) won’t be that soft at 34.  Not in the short term, anyway. It’ll take a few more degrees above freezing for an ice road to experience the selective slushiness shown. And yes, selective. The road was only slushy when it needed to be for dramatic purposes.

Okay, on to the typical clichés of a SyFy movie. I counted several, including the Evil Mining Dude who hates all things environmentalist (he admits other faults later and is promptly eaten). Another cliché, the old Native guy who relays that the creature is from a legend. He promptly gets eaten too. Also: sad hero, heroine running away from other life (to AK, where you can “learn to survive alone but sometimes forget you need others” *gag*), the “You have to stay strong for your daughter” speech (oy), and the crotchety older couple who are fonts of wisdom (who, btw, own only one .22 rifle yet have a flamethrower at hand.).

The creature is depicted as a lizard-like thing, and the CGI isn’t horrible. The beast conveniently doesn’t attack while the people are taking a break at night. Nor does it try to actually get into the house until the heroes decide it would be a good idea to lure it into the house and escape via the second floor (because creature is too big to turn around and leave once it gets inside).

The action scene that really had me scratching my head was when the truckers and the girl scientist first arrive at the mine site. They run in front of the creature from behind a large piece of machinery to take cover behind a bunch of wooden pallets. Yeah. Why is that a better option?

From the above, you’d think I didn’t like this movie, but for what it was, what I expected out of it, it was enjoyable. I’ve seen better (Splinter) and worse (too many to name). But every Saturday you can find me checking the listings to fulfill my SyFy movie needs. Do you watch SyFy movies? Tell me your favorites.

**********

Cathy’s Carina Press debut Rulebreaker will be released Aug. 8, 2011.

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9 comments

  1. I watched a couple minutes of that one, but I don’t generally watch the SyFy movies. Fun review!

  2. I actually watched some of that, mostly toward the end. I love the “it’s cold enough to freeze the water but the people are bare headed without gloves.”
    Even better, it’s a LIZARD, guys! As in REPTILE. As in HELLO, dormant in winter????
    My favorite movies are the end of the world disaster movies with impossible pseudo science. Like Day After Tomorrow – the wolves were in the zoo yesterday yet they’re skin and bones, going after live meat (people on the boat) when there were zoo animals and for that matter frozen people all over the place. And that’s not even addressing the man being able to walk fifty miles in one day in sub zero weather.
    Even better – the volcanoes in Los Angeles one. They come up with the idea of diverting the lava with concrete barriers. Hmmm, what’s the temp of lava? Like 1200 to 2400 F, according to a Google search? So the concrete might not give way, but the people standing THREE FEET away are going to get awful darned hot, not to mention the idiot who placed his hand on the barricade!

  3. Cathy, I watched Ice Road Terror too. You were spot on with your review 😉 Sometimes I forget and get picky about the science until my hubby reminds me that it’s just a movie and why do I take it seriously? LOL, I only do that when the movie is so cheesy, it leaves me time to dwell on the bad SF or the illogical situations.

  4. I love the SyFy channel. Since I’m in England right now, I don’t get to watch it. You can always count on it for movies that are good, bad, and sometimes ugly, but usually always entertaining. Thanks for the review.

  5. Oh, I watch a LOT of SyFy movies – I have TERRIBLE taste in movies 😉 Favourites? I don’t really have one but Sharktopus was rather amusing. Most times I figure they just throw animal names or vaguely scary words into a hat, pull out a couple, and TA-DA… it’s the movie premise/title. Although this weekend, when Flu Bird Horror was on (I didn’t have a chance to watch it) I’d wondered if they were just giving up. What an awful title for a movie!

    Great review! I’ll have to watch this one when it’s on next.

  6. Saw this one! Great review. I’m a sucker for cheesy SyFy movies too. Your review made me chuckle. Ironically, I didn’t even notice some of these things when I was watching! I still can’t figure out the hero/heroine’s plan at the end to lure the creature into the house. They thought that made sense WHY?!?

  7. Thanks for all the comments, folks! I’m on vacation and have sporatic internet ability, but it was great reading all your comments when I was able to get connected.

    Glad we can agree that SyFy movies are deliciously cheesy 🙂 And as Lynda said, as long as we don’t dwell on the science part (or too many other “facts”) they can be enjoyable.

    Signing off from sunny So Cal 😉

  8. Mark Scroggins · · Reply

    Looking forward to seeing Ice Road Terror. They get a bad rap, but the SYFY Channel movies are a lot of fun. Most are throwbacks to old 1950s creature features that I grew up watching on late night tv (last thing on before the national anthem and the test pattern came on–kids, ask your grandparents).

    A big bowl of popcorn and a SYFY Channel movie is a great recipe for a couple of hours of goofy fun

  9. murray · · Reply

    I just saw this movie and think you are all giving it to much credit. I recorded it because I did not think my friends would believe how bad it was. In addition to problems noted above there where just too many scenes that did not make any logical sense towards the end. As noted above, the creature never gets the energy to go through the plywood but hangs around presumably for hours waiting for them to come out side. When they are outside, instead of attacking with a head full of teeth it instead uses it’s tail as a spear. It then halls the old guy off and instead of eating him just leaves him laying around still alive for later i guess? Now I can understand wanting to save your spouse but to run out in the snow and follow the blood trail when he is almost certainly dead makes no sense unless you intend to be eaten. While it makes sense that the monster has poor vision the actors never make an effort to be quite. Last time I checked prediters that have poor vision are almost always good listeners. The scene where they are going to shock it also leaves me puzzled. Again they make a lot of noise as they rig up something that would make migiaver proud and toss it across the creature. The shock is not enough to kill it and yet the animal seems unable to even fall off the roof to get away from being electrocuted. Perhaps the scene that was the worse (and there was a lot) was when the creature again used its tail ( presumably while not being able to see what it was doing above her on the roof) to spear a hole the size of a football through the old lady’s chest as she was re entering the house. Now I know the human body can take a lot of trauma but lets get serious.! Not only would anyone die instantly from a football sized wound, the drop in blood pressure would make them black out instantly as well. Not this lady though. She just falls down and after a short speech makes our hero’s promise that her and her husband be left to die there! Hello , we can the sun shining through your chest- your not going to make it.

    So in case you have not guessed yet . Yeah i thought the movie had a bunch of people and a creature that ran around doing things that seemed implausible at the time. Fun to record for your friends to laugh at.

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