Sunday, 6 February 2011

The Rime Of The Ancient Submariner [Review: 2010: Moby Dick]

I'm writing this review carefully: The Asylum's 2010: Moby Dick is not the only modern adaptation of a seafaring fantasy in the village, and I'll be sure to hold up Jack Black's Gulliver's Travels re-boot to the same standards.

Moby Dick is the kind of nonsense The Asylum loves to make over and over again: oversized ancient sea-creatures, submarines, beautiful brainy women and crazed soldiers. Let's take a look at each:

The sea-creature is Moby Dick, a survivor from prehistoric times of a whale species that ate other whales. MD is a giant, white, toothy CGI creation with intelligent black eyes and a sonar signature "like a hole in the sea."

The crazed soldier is Captain Ahab, a submarine commander who survived a brush with MD, losing a leg - and a large percentage of his sanity - in the process. The white whale becomes his bĂȘte noir and he spends the last twenty years of his naval career scheming to get his own back. Ahab is played by Shakespeare-class actor Barry Bostwick who puts everything into his performance and then some. It doesn't stop there, either, at least according to the Making Of featurette: it seems Mr. B wasn't too impressed by the Asylum's props department, so turned up on set with his own kick-ass mega-harpoon that he'd knocked up in his garage the night before. As the demented captain fighting to maintain the loyalty of his crew, Ahab also gets the best of the script - of course the best lines of all are those borrowed from Herman Melville.

The beautiful brainy woman is marine biologist and whalespeak expert Dr. Michelle Herman (see what they did there?) who is kidnapped by Ahab to help him in his quest. Michelle is played by Renee O'Connor, who some of you may recall as Xena's "close friend" Gabrielle - she's a pro and gives a great performance but is underused: her main job is to sit and look pretty wearing a pair of headphones, then suddenly notice things on the sonar that no-one else can see or hear. In this respect the lack of imagination on the part of the writers is inexcusable.

Ahab's submarine, the Peaquod, has been secretly upgraded in preparation for the day when Ahab goes rogue and hunts down the whale. Externally it's a CGI job and a poor one - rarely convincing. Internally it's better although not claustrophobic enough for a sub, and I think I recognized a few re-deployed sets from the Transmorphers underground city. It's a time of austerity so recycling is good, right? Lucky Dr. Michelle gets to sleep in the torpedo bay with nuclear missiles hanging from chains above her head.

2010: Moby Dick is not Shakespeare, however it is an enjoyable hour and a half. Despite the flaws, I would recommend it on the strength of Bostwick's performance and the attempt to stay in touch with, or at least make use of, the original story. In particular the arch-nemesis relationship between Ahab and MD is very well staged, and I think this gives it a bit of an edge over the many other Asylum creature features. I guess we should look forward to The Asylum's re-boot of The Ancient Mariner, featuring a 200-foot prehistoric man-eating Mega Albatross and Tiffany as the crypto-ornithologist who holds the key to defeating it.


inmate 977 said...

i really enjoyed this flick: thought it stayed true enough to the melville original while adequately modernizing the story without going too overboard. and like you, i thought that bostwick making his own harpoon gun was amazing!
COMMITTED - an asylum blog

Sci-Fi Gene said...

They should employ him as permanent artistic director :)