If you're done marathoning Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, perhaps you'd like a drastic change of pace for your next Netflix viewing session. On Friday, the streaming service releases Polar, a new comic book movie that is already getting mixed reviews. Most reviewers agree that it is gory as hell, leading fans to wonder what graphic novel Polar is based on. The graphic novel is popular in its own right.
Polar tells the story of an assassin, Duncan Vizla, also known as the The Black Kaiser (played by Mads Mikkelsen). The assassin is settling into retirement when he suddenly finds himself marked as a liability to his former employer. Now he is going head to head with the firm's younger team of ruthless killers. The gory story is based on a graphic novel series and a webcomic, also titled Polar, by Spanish author and illustrator Victor Santos. In 2014, Santos received a Harvey Award nomination (an award show for achievements in comic books) for his graphic novel Polar: Came From The Cold, as per IGN. According to Variety, Netflix's Polar is technically based on Polar: Came From The Cold.
As explained on the Polar Comics website, Santos uses a "minimalistic and direct style" inspired by movies including Tokyo Drifter and Point Blank, so it makes sense that someone had the idea to turn his drawings and characters into a movie.
Santos recently sat down for an interview with the website Comic Book, and he opened up about his reservations regarding the adaptation from page to screen. “My biggest fear was the story would be turned into conventional action hero story,” Santos told Comic Book. “But when you read or listen to Mads Mikkelsen interviews, you see he understood the character really well.”
It wasn't until Santos watched the trailer that he really believed his characters and stories had become a feature film. “It’s so surreal. You never really believe it’s actually happening even when you're involved in the process...” he told Comic Book. “And then one day, you watch the trailer and blam! It’s real."
In addition to Mikkelsen, Vanessa Hudgens stars in Polar as Camille, "the skittish, traumatized young woman next door," as per Variety.
IGN's David Griffin applauded Polar for breaking the typical superhero narrative. Unlike many other superhero film protagonists, "Mikkelsen’s Duncan isn’t burdened with a tragic past. He’s just a simple assassin killing from 9-5 to earn a buck. His lack of backstory adds a layer of mystery to his character, which Mikkelsen embodies effectively," Griffin wrote.
However, Vulture's Emily Yoshida did not find Polar to have many redeeming qualities. "Polar is an execrable motion picture, a sad, lint-filled key bump scraped together from the bottom of the post-Tarantino ’90s exploitation baggie," Yoshida wrote. "It thinks it’s funny, but the only jokes it knows are smash-cuts to rails of cocaine and grievous bodily harm."
Basically, watch the movie at your own risk — because whether you are a fan of it or not, the film is extremely violent. Just take a look at the trailer. Polar is available to stream on Netflix beginning Jan. 25.