North Star ★★★

figured this would be a nightmare since the only thing i knew was extremely french christopher lambert plays a half alaska native - but it was actually pretty good? lambert owns a mining claim on his family's sacred land so that no white men can pillage it, until villain james caan has his men murder him as a plan to murder all the claim owners, buy their land, own the whole area, and ban immigrants from staking claims. lambert doesn't die though, and sets out to get his land back so he can continue to protect his folks. it reminded me a little of chato's land - awful casting choice but its heart is in the right place so..?? it gets even more twisted when it's revealed late in the movie that caan is himself a "half breed". unfortunately all these potentially interesting ideas - shame and fear and confusion leading a powerful white man to violence and hatred, the hypocrisy of standing on land you yourself stole and banning other immigrants from taking it, the struggle of immigrants come to america seeking to provide for their poor families and the complexity of who has a right to what, a white woman questioning her own loyalties and the myths she's been told, the circumstances that lead to a half white man in the to risk his life for the indigenous people who raised him, the american goverment's role in regulating new territory in the 1800s, the backstory of an alaskan tracker who works for the white villain, etc etc - are trapped in a ridiculous movie. the book it was based on might explore these issues further, but the movie only touches on the bare minimum of what needs to be shown for the plot to move forward. lambert is not exactly at his best and your enjoyment of the movie will depend on your tolerance for his unique charms. caan does a great job as the confident leader of the mining association who loses his mind when forced to confront his own secrets. the rest of the cast is mostly played for laughs (the villains henchmen) or barely speaks at all (the alaskan family). the scenery is of course beautiful, lambert does some crazy ice climbing and lots of dog sledding, there are a couple of genuinely moving moments, it doesn't turn into the awful love story i feared it would, and it's engaging. i could have done without the brief instances of dog violence but otherwise i kind of loved this stupid cozy fantasy where the american government rides in to take down the corrupt racist, and the rest of the aforementioned problems happily solve themselves, we all learn a nice lesson and fade to black.