Moby Dick (2011)

Moby Dick author Herman Meville died before anyone acknowledged his book was anything special. It was never well-received in his lifetime and he died without knowing the true impact of his work. Since his death his book has inspired countless writers and filmmakers, been made into films featuring everything from dragons to aliens, and his character Ahab is now symbolic of any crazed person fuelled entirely by vengeance. The Asylum has finally stuck their shameless oar into this quick-buck title, setting it in present day with a nuclear submarine, a 500 foot long whale and a robo-legged Ahab played by Barry BostwickHerman Meville’s lucky he’s dead, because this adaptation would’ve killed him.

I was dreading watching Moby Dick. I have had the tiresome misfortune of watching many of The Asylum’s other aquatic adventures – from Mega Shark and Mega Piranha to Crocosaurus and Titanic 2 – and I honestly expected Moby Dick to repeat the shockingly rendered CGI nonsense, carbon copy the previous characters and have at least ten shots flipped and repeated as “new”. Sadly I got what I expected. And Barry Bostwick.

Moby Dick begins fantastically well, set in 1969 on a nuclear sub in the arctic, which is subsequently bitten in half by a gigantic white whale. On board is a young operator called Ahab, and he loses his leg in the attack (but miraculously survives).

The script is surprisingly excellent, even when it is delivered clumsily by the majority of the cast. Part Meville and part screenwriter Paul Bales, the dialogue is mostly very fresh and sharp, delivering the best script for an Asylum film I have ever witnessed. It has flaws – major irreconcilable plot flaws – but overall it’s less offensively terrible than their usual output.

The direction is also vastly improved compared to the likes of Mega Piranha and Titanic 2, but only during the indoor sequences… any CGI action scenes are a god-awful mess, vomited out confusingly and entirely without charm. This is an Asylum staple – CGI so bad it looks like you’re watching a 90’s flight simulator on a faulty Amstrad.

Acting wise it’s an incredibly mixed bag; some of it excellent and some of it substandard shameful pap. Only Derrick Scott and Barry Bostwick truly excel, delivering solid, believable performances throughout. Pointless heroine Renee O’Connor overacts in every scene, dancing about as “young” marine biologist Doctor Herman and never convinces us that she quite understands the gravity of the situation… even when under attack by a gigantic whale or facing a nuclear missile rocketing towards her…

Moby Dick fails on a humungous amount of levels – the whale roars like a prehistoric land mammal, the military uniforms, speech and haircuts are all levels of inaccurate and at one point the nuclear submarine harpoons the damn whale! It is gratingly idiotic and thoroughly rapes the original tale with its cheapness and lack of respect for its source material.

Perhaps The Asylum are building their aquatic monstrosity smorgasbord for one final insane film a la The Avengers, called Mega Shark vs. Moby Dick vs. Crocosaurus vs. Giant Octopus vs. Mega Piranha, because otherwise Moby Dick is a pointless addition to bulging canon of crappy giant water-beasts films. It has many plus points the other Asylum films don’t – the script is decent, the direction sound, some acting good – but it is still a horrific mess. Only watch this is you’re an avid fan of Barry Bostwick, or you really like watching someone crapping all over Herman Meville’s grave…

Rating: ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆

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