12 January 2013 | sacushman
Great near-future sci-fi.
As a stand alone movie, I can see how "Borealis" may be slightly disappointing. As the pilot for a new series though, it's awesome. Why? It leaves one wanting more.
In an all-too-near future, the arctic icecap has melted, opening the way for new trade routes, oil fields, mining operations, and other untapped resources for the international community to squabble over. At the center of it all is Vic's bar. Owned by a former cage fighter and now the customs agent for the Canadian government, the bar is the center of life in an emerging frontier town.
Like many sci-fi shows, "Borealis" owes much to the genre of Westerns. The characters include a likable town drunk, a good-hearted prostitute, native Inuit, and a couple characters vying for the role of lawman, including Vic. But, it comes with a definite 21st century spin, including an American archaeologist funded by the Russians, an activist biologist determined to protect and document what remains of the arctic ecosystem, and an enigmatic international diplomat.
While the premise relies on climate change, the show doesn't get bogged down in preaching about the global warming we are currently causing. It moves along at a fast pace, with murder, fights and intrigue as nations, corporations and Vic all try to establish dominance in this new frontier. And since it's in the near future, advances in technology are evident, but not distracting or far beyond our current comprehension.
What really sets this apart from other Canadian sci-fi and fantasy is the acting and writing. The cast is excellent, and the main characters are entirely believable. Ty Olsson's understated energy really carries the pilot, but I also found myself wanting to see more of and know more about the characters played by Bryan Dick, Michelle Harrison, Greyston Holt and Christine Horne.
To me, fiction is most successful when the characters come alive in your mind and you want to continue their stories. In that, "Borealis" completely succeeds. And I sincerely hope that a network such as Space or Syfy feels the same way, and will use this movie as the pilot of a series, as it seems intended to be.