Ice Station Zebra - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Ice Station Zebra Reviews

Page 2 of 8
November 30, 2015
Ponderous but occasionally witty and impressive adventure summed up nicely by Time magazine as a fake crew announcement....'Try not to stumble over the Super Panavision equipment, it's part of our real mission to convince the people out there that this is more important than it really is'. McGoohan outshines everyone with his clipped, sarcastic, witty acting.
½ November 30, 2007
En un glorioso Cinerama, "Ice Station Zebra" es una cinta sin ningún personaje femenino acerca de una misteriosa misión submarina en la que un comandante (Rock Hudson) es enviado al Polo Norte junto con un agente británico (Patrick McGoohan) a una misión secreta que puede desencadenar la Tercera Guerra Mundial. La película favorita de Howard Hughes (el excéntrico director la colocaba una y otra vez en su hogar) es un sólido relato de espionaje con una dirección firme a cargo de John Sturges, unas buenas actuaciones y una excelente fotografía.
October 31, 2015
An excellent Cold War Techno-Thriller (submarines, helicopters, Ice Stations, spy satellites, military jets, booby traps--all the good stuff!) plus solid acting. Some of the special effects, especially at the end are weak, but the submarine work, both interior and exterior shots, is outstanding. McGoohan, as usual was fabulous, Hudson was good, even Jim Brown was solid. Borgnine, one of my favorite actors, was only OK in this role as a double agent. Tense, thrilling and fun! Truthfully, I can't point to another movie of this cold war techno-thriller type that is any better. So ignore the critics and see this movie when you get a chance, Ideally uncut in it's original two-part format.
December 5, 2014
Great thriller for the time. Rock Hudson at his best.
July 2, 2014
NEEDS FINAL EDIT ///

There are some fantastic set pieces in this opening act which include the submarine trying to find out exactly where Ice Station Zebra might be (since it floats with the ice pack), a disastrous accident that seems to be the result of sabotage, and, right before intermission (this being a roadshow engagement, after all), the sub finally managing to crack through the ice pack to hopefully complete its mission, whatever that might be. But then things begin to go horribly, horribly wrong. We've already been led to believe that there's a spy on board, courtesy of the "accident" which seems anything but. The suspects are really limited to Jones, Anders or Vaslov, and the writing here is not nuanced enough to make the eventual denouement much of a surprise.

More problematic is the film's ridiculously lethargic second act, which sees the bulk of the action playing out on obvious studio sets designed to approximate the frozen Arctic wilderness. Once the real reason for the mission comes to light, many are probably going to be asking in disbelief, "That's it?", and that disbelief isn't just the result of a 21st century cynicism-my hunch is audiences in 1968 were probably just as incredulous. The film devolves into a showdown between those nefarious Russkies and the stalwart Americans, and if there's a bit of political nuance that actually creeps into the screenplay, it's clad in an overall "us vs. them" scenario that undercuts any attempt at shades of gray.

If Ice Station Zebra had simply been judiciously trimmed, it might have been one of the biggest blockbusters of the late sixties. As it stands, it seems to be one of the best examples of the major studios attempting-in vain-to recapture the glory days of old with big budget epics that simply didn't have the intrinsic elements to support the gargantuan productions. There's really nothing inherently horrible about Ice Station Zebra and the first half of the film is a surprisingly brisk and exciting entertainment. There's an old adage in the legitimate theater about "second act problems" and that's pretty much exactly what the issue with Ice Station Zebra is. The problem is when a film reaches its conclusion, it's that second act that's most vividly in the audience's mind, while the first act is already beginning to fade into the cold Arctic mist.

McGoohan is interesting and Rock Hudson makes for a congenial captain, but the rest of the casting doesn't pay off very well. Ernest Borgnine never impresses as the friendly Russian spy, simply because he's too familiar. Jim Brown gives it his best, but he's just not actor enough to make his tough Marine character work. Tony Bill's young officer has too predictable a fate; in fact, all three of them are trapped in cornball plot twists that aren't particularly enjoyable.

The disappointing second half of Ice Station Zebra wouldn't be so bad if the physical production were better. As soon as the armed soldiers leave the Tigerfish they step into truly phony stage-bound sets. The ice floe is a uniformly white and blue expanse dotted with conveniently uniform little outcroppings of ice. Fake blown snow and superimposed optical snow add to the artificiality. Visibility remains excellent, nobody has frost on their breath and everything is lit as if this were a Doris Day movie. Likewise, the arrival of Russian jets is covered by some supremely fake angles of static models locked in front of dizzying views of arctic scenery speeding by. In other words, the visual end of the movie falls on its face.

This isn't a film for fans of deep, intricate, nuanced acting. Everyone in the film has one, and only one, note to play. Patrick McGoohan's note is "hair-trigger." He succumbs to a bit of overacting at times; I doubt a real spy would be as jumpy as a chihuahua. Borgnine kinda sorta looks Russian, a little bit-but that's where the similarity ends. He's more convincing as Mermaid Man on SpongeBob Squarepants. Jim Brown has so little to do that I'm not entirely sure I didn't imagine him. Only Hudson escapes relatively unscathed.

The one thing that is good about Ice Station Zebra is casting Patrick McGoohan as a British secret agent similar to his character in the show Danger Man or Secret Agent
½ September 3, 2014
Klassiker, men jag mindes den som bättre...
April 29, 2014
Directed by John Sturges (Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), The Magnificent Seven (1960) and The Great Escape (1963)) and based upon the 1963 book by Alistair MacLean, which was inspired by an actual operation that occurred in 1959. It was intended to reunite the cast of The Guns of Navarone (1961), but delays put the kibosh on that. It tries to be suspenseful, but it's overlong and quite dull. Commander James Ferraday (Rock Hudson), who is in charge of the U.S. nuclear attack submarine USS Tigerfish, which is stationed at Holy Loch in Scotland. Ferraday is asked by Admiral Garvey (Lloyd Nolan) to take the Tigerfish into the Arctic, to save the survivors of the British research station Ice Station Zebra, which suffered an accident. Ferraday is told to take along British intelligence agent Mr. Jones (Patrick McGoohan), Combat Commander Captain Anders (Jim Brown) and Russian Defector Boris Vaslov (Ernest Borgnine), who will aid with this mission. However, once they break through the ice and get to the station, priorities and plans change. It should have been a good spy thriller, but too much time is spent on the submarine, and by the time we get into the Arctic, the film has already been smothered. It has a good cast as well, but the film is overlong, it could have done with half an hour trimmed from it to speed things along and keep it tighter and to the point.
May 19, 2013
very good yarn for its day
April 17, 2013
Most submarine movies are pretty heavy on jargon, and "Ice Station Zebra" is especially so. The first half hour is almost excruciatingly slow-paced and technical, but there are two good reasons for that decision. One reason is narrative: when the action finally begins it comes as a jolt, and the suddenness of the transition creates the atmosphere of tension and unpredictability that is required for the second act. The other reason has to do with the film's production. The studio borrowed a real submarine from the Navy, allowing director John Sturges to stage difficult underwater scenes without relying on unrealistic miniatures or grainy stock footage. Shots of the submarine gliding beneath vast icebergs are eerily beautiful, and they justify the amount of time the script spends getting the characters from point A to point B. The espionage plot may be nothing special, but it is at least evocative of the late 1960s. Ernest Borgnine, Jim Brown, and Patrick McGoohan deliver in strongly-characterized roles.
½ April 14, 2013
Ice Station Zebra is a fantastic film. It is about a top-secret Soviet spy satellite that malfunctions and that went into a descent that landed in the Arctic. Rock Hudson and Ernest Borgnine give excellent performances. The screenplay is well written about cold war tensions. John Sturges did a great job directing this movie. I enjoyed watching this motion picture because of the action and drama. Ice Station Zebra is a must see.
½ February 12, 2013
A top-notch political/military/spy thriller from the 1960's. I saw it in 1968, when I was just a teenager. Nothing like it had been seen back then. It's a great adventure, and some scenes had me literally on the edge of my seat. I've watched it at least once a year since it came out, and it holds up well. The acting is solid, the direction is good, the score by Michel Legrand is wonderful, and the Panavision "Cinerama" photography is astounding. However, I only gave it 4-1/2 stars, because of some low-budget special effects. One last thing... In my humble opinion, people shouldn't listen to disproportionately negative negative reviews of the film seen the eyes of today. Just get yourself some hot popcorn, snuggle into your couch, and enjoy the show.
December 22, 2007
Cool FX for its time especially if you like submarines. I enjoyed it and wanna see it again.
December 10, 2012
A slow start to a lengthy Cold War drama but the introduction of a murder mystery plot after the intermission heats things up.
½ July 5, 2007
Slow moving, but had a cool atmosphere to it.
½ November 15, 2012
One of my favorite movies. The pacing isn't to everyone's liking, but I find that it lets the movie develop right.
½ November 5, 2012
except for some interesting cinematography in the first hour there isn't much here and this movie pays dearly for each of the hundred deviations it takes from the book.
November 2, 2012
I've been wanting to watch this movie for 25 or so years and finally did yesterday. What a disappointment.... I expected mind numbing action/adventure but I feel it had way too much pseudo-drama instead. In the end I couldn't even figure out who was on whose side. :-)
September 3, 2012
I saw the movie, and i have read the book also and i can safely say that it is pretty much disappointing on that front. The movie does not remain faithful to the book, had it done it would have been a compelling watch. Not only the ending is flat but the buildup to the climax is also slow & i had moments where i was dozing.... for a mystery movie geek like me this was uncommon. I would advise not viewing the movie for someone who has read the book, others can have one look and one look only.
July 28, 2012
A movie known more for it's title than the actual movie itself. If you want to ramp up the suspense, artificial or not, two easy ways to do that are by confining the space and remoteness so a submarine in the arctic qualifies for both. Add in the cold-war, espionage, and treason and this should be a no-brainer but that is not always the case.
The cast is solid with Hudson leading the way and doing a good job in a dramatic role, Borgnine's accent seemed to go in and out.
There is always a problem with submarine sabotage just in the logistics of it and sorry when the sub is that deep and that close to the arctic the water temp would of caused hypothermia making this scene unrealistic.
Granted this is the late 60's but some of the special effects seemed odd, especially anything to do with ice.
Still the story and for the most part the acting keep this at a steady stream of suspense to make it watchable.
July 11, 2012
In spite of a high profile star cast( Rock Hudson, Patrick McGoohan, Ernest Borgnine, Jim Brown) and some great submarine shoots, the movie really fails to engage much. Alistair Maclean's novel was an excellent thriller, that managed to keep the tension till the end, the movie on the other hand, just keeps meandering especially in the 2nd half, to a climax that really does not make much sense.
Page 2 of 8