Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Fraser Clarke Heston|
|Produced by||Andy Burg|
|Written by||Andy Burg
|Music by||Reg Powell|
|Editing by||Rob Kobrin|
|Studio||Castle Rock Entertainment|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures (theatrical)
Warner Bros. (DVD)
|Release dates||August 14, 1996|
|Running time||109 min|
|Box office||$ 11,829,959|
Alaska is a 1996 action-adventure film that centers on two children who search through the Alaskan wilderness for their lost father. During their journey they find a polar bear that helps lead them to their father. However, a poacher with a desire to capture the bear follows close behind the kids and the polar bear. The movie was filmed primarily in the Purcell Mountains of British Columbia in Canada and the city of Vancouver.
|This section is too long. Consider splitting it into new pages, adding subheadings, or condensing it. (January 2013)|
The movie starts with Jake Barnes (Dirk Benedict) flying a plane over the Alaskan wilderness. While he is flying, he is communicating with a man named Charlie (Ben Cardinal), who works for Quincy Air Service. During his flight he passes by a polar bear that stands up on its hind legs as the plane flies overhead. The polar bear is then shown in the scope of a gun being held by a poacher, Colin Perry (Charlton Heston) who, with his comrade Koontz (Duncan Fraser), kills the bear.
The next scene opens with Jessie Barnes (Thora Birch) and her friend Chip (Ryan Kent) observing wildlife in their kayaks before her dinner. Jessie's father Jake begins telling her where he is flying from, at what time he left that location, and his air speed. Jessie calculates that her father is passing Devils Thumb. The scene shifts to a general store, where the store worker begins to tell Jessie's brother Sean about an experience he had during a fire on the Yukon River in which an eagle flew out of the smoke and showed him where to go. Meanwhile, the very same eagle is sitting in the store. The worker calls the eagle his Tornac, which means “Spirit Guide”. Sean then walks out of the store and kicks over a trashcan, spilling a carton of oil on the ground. A local police officer, Sergeant Sam Grazer (Don S. Davis), witnesses this and approaches Sean.
In the next scene, Jake Barnes lands his plane on a lake, where Charlie is waiting to tie the plane up to the dock. Jake receives a phone call telling him that his son has been caught engaging in delinquent activities. He picks Sean up from the police station and they talk about how Sean hates it in Alaska, and that he wants to go back to Chicago. We then see Jake, Sean, and Jessie eating dinner. Jake receives a call from Charlie, telling him that he must make a trip up to Douglas, Alaska. Jessie warns her father that it is almost dark, but Jake says there is plenty of daylight left. Sean then scolds his father for moving their family to Alaska. Jessie and Sean’s mother died, leaving Sean to wish that his dad was the one that died instead of their mother. Jake then departs on his trip, despite violent weather conditions. As Jessie begins to worry about her father, she attempts to communicate with him. She is able to speak to him for a small amount of time, but he then loses his connection. The poor flying conditions cause Jake to crash his plane in the remote wilderness. As Charlie and a police officer search for Jake and his plane via helicopter, we see Jake, alive, in his downed plane. Jake shoots a flare gun into the air, hoping that the helicopter will see the cry for help. Unfortunately the helicopter was flying in the exact opposite direction, away from the flare. Frustrated with the lack of search efforts, Sean and Jessie set out in search of their father, whom they assume is still alive.
As they kayak through the chilly waters of the Gulf of Alaska, they stop to rest on a beach. They soon realize that the shore is home to a poachers’ camp. They then discover a live polar bear that has been locked in a cage. They let the polar bear run free, hoping that it will save itself. Sean and Jessie leave the beach in their kayak, and the bear follows close behind. As they are eating their dinner, the bear interrupts Jessie and Sean, chewing a hole into their frying pan. After the bear leaves their camp Colin Perry appears, in hunt of the polar bear that he believes is rightfully his property. Koontz then arrives and notices teeth marks in the frying pan, alerting Perry that the bear was there. Colin’s beliefs that the children stole the bear from his camp are confirmed when he finds his missing lighter next to their camping gear. Perry orders the kids to tell the bear to “come home” (Perry is referring to the cage at his camp as the bear’s home). The next day, Jessie and Sean continue in their search to find their missing father. They leave their kayak and begin searching on foot. They soon discover that the polar bear has once again followed them in their journey. Perry and Koontz, too, have followed the youngsters and this time they destroy the oars in their kayak and hide the kayak in the woods just in case someone comes looking for them. Just then Charlie arrives in a helicopter in search of Jessie and Sean. Perry shows Charlie a piece of the oar and tells him that he found it 25 miles north of their current position. Charlie then departs in his helicopter in hopes of finding the children, who he believes to be in grave danger.
We find Jessie and Sean as they descend down a steep mountain side. Jessie safely reaches the bottom, but Sean slips and tumbles down the mountain, hitting his head on a rock. The two then continue their journey and find a log cabin in the woods. They take shelter and Sean lies down in the bed. While in the cabin, Sean notices a canoe hanging from the ceiling. Jessie and Sean take the canoe and continue on in their search for their father. While they are canoeing down a river, the two kids encounter vicious rapids that send them and their canoe down a waterfall. Jessie is able to escape the raging river but, once again, Sean’s lack of experience in the wilderness causes him to struggle. He is thrust down the river where he is helped out of the cold water by Jessie’s friend Chip and his grandfather (Byron Chief-Moon). With the kids barefoot by the riverside, Chip’s father wants to send Jessie and Sean home, but Chip and his grandfather wish to help the two on their journey. The two proceed on their quest with their befriended polar bear, whom they named Cubby, by their side.
Cubby leads them until he is shot with a tranquilizer dart by Colin. He then takes Cubby away in his helicopter, but Koontz didn’t load the darts with enough tranquilizer fluids, allowing Cubby to awaken in the helicopter and trying to fight his way free. As Koontz lowers the helicopter, Cubby escapes and bites Perry's right knee, causing Perry to shoot Koontz with a tranquilizer dart and damage the helicopter as well. Meanwhile, the children continue on in their search for their missing father. They stumble upon some wreckage from his plane crash and begin yelling for him to respond. Not able to yell, their father shoots another flare into the air. This time the children see it and run to his rescue. They find the plane hanging on the edge of a cliff, and Jessie lowers Sean down the side of the mountain to reach their father. Just as it looks like Jessie is going to lose control of the rope, Cubby appears and helps Jessie pull the rope. With Cubby's help, Jessie and Sean are able to raise their father up the side of the mountain. Just as the family is reunited, Charlie shows up in his helicopter to take them home and complete the rescue.
- Thora Birch as Jessie Barnes
- Vincent Kartheiser as Sean Barnes
- Dirk Benedict as Jake Barnes
- Charlton Heston as Colin Perry the Poacher
- Duncan Fraser as Koontz, Perry’s Pilot
- Gordon Tootoosis as Ben, Quincy General Store
- Ben Cardinal as Charlie, Quincy Air Service
- Ryan Kent as Chip
- Don S. Davis as Sergeant Sam Grazer
- Dolly Madsen as Mrs. Ben
- Stephen E. Miller as Trooper Sam Harvey
- Byron Chief-Moon as Chip’s Grandfather
- Kristin Lehman as Florence
Box Office Performance
Despite an approximate budget of $20 million, the film managed to bring in domestic revenues of only $11,829,959. The film received unfavorable ratings from viewers and critics alike.
- “Alaska”, http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=alaska.htm
- “Alaska (1996)”, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115493/