Ice Station Zebra - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Ice Station Zebra Reviews

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October 23, 2017
One of the best! (It's mysterious that some people loved it (including me) and some people hated it. I'm correct,of course)
July 19, 2017
A steadily paced espionage thriller which feels somewhat lighter on thrills than was probably intended.
February 13, 2017
Can't stand this movie for it having to be a military movie that's old-fashioned I don't like it, Plus it doesn't look interesting. I could do something better then watch this
June 11, 2016
Solid if overlong cold war thriller from director John Sturges, from a story by Alistair MacLean. Rock Hudson is the commander of a US sub on a race to the North Pole to rescue scientists at Ice Station Zebra, which is actually a cover for a top secret mission. The dirty commies are also after the scientists, so it's a race to find them, though Hudson's job isn't made any easier when it's discovered there is a mole within their midst. Ernest Borgnine, Patrick McGoohan, Jim Brown, and Tony Bill all co-star in the film, which features an all male cast (no passing the Bechdel Test here). Michel Legrand provides a more masculine of score than usual, which is kind of cool, and the film had uncredited script doctoring by W.R. Burnett, but in general this film felt way too long at nearly three hours. Still, it's a pretty entertaining bit of cold war entertainment.
½ May 25, 2016
Intrigue! Spies! Submarines! Stuff! What's not to love? Anyone who rates this lower doesn't know entertainment.
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 23, 2015
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.
½ November 23, 2015
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.
½ April 28, 2015
An interesting cold war / spy / submarine movie, if you get past the 1960s style of overly long dramatic pauses and old-school special effects.
December 5, 2014
Great thriller for the time. Rock Hudson at his best.
November 20, 2014

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.
June 28, 2013
Maybe the best cold warm film ever made!
May 19, 2013
very good yarn for its day
April 29, 2013
I remember seeing this movie as a kid. A decent Cold War movie.
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.
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