2010: Moby Dick (2010)
Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Barry Bostwick, Renee O'Connor, Matt Lagan, Adam Grimes, Dean Kreyling
Directed by Trey Stokes
2010: Moby Dick is without question the greatest modern day retelling of Moby Dick Roger Corman never produced.
A giant prehistoric white whale smashes sea-going vessels and knocks helicopters out of the sky, nuclear submarines dogfight a monstrous whale, a crazy sea captain with a robotic leg, sailors shooting at a giant whale with machine guns, speargun bazookas, massive explosions, countless corpses floating in the water, wisecracking black sidekick, maximum testosterone…
Come to think of it; this film is about a 200 million dollar budget and a few scantily clad female co-stars away from being Michael Bay’s Moby Dick.
Word came this past summer that anthropologists had discovered the fossils of a new species of predatory prehistoric whale so gigantic it was given the name Leviathan melvillei after both the Biblical beast Leviathan and the author of the most famous whale story of all time. Five minutes later The Asylum announced they were producing a modern day version of Moby Dick reimagining the “Great White Whale” as this very prehistoric sea beast.
The year is 2010. Ahab is captain of the USS Pequod, a state-of-the-art nuclear submarine. Ahab has been obsessed with hunting down this giant prehistoric behemoth ever since he was a mere cadet aboard an atomic submarine patrolling beneath the arctic ice back in 1969 when it had a fatal encounter with the whale. That encounter began with the whale grasping the sub in its jaws and bodyslamming it out of the water onto the ice and concluded with the gigantic whale biting off Ahab’s leg in a moment that if it wasn’t an homage to Bo Derek getting her leg bitten off in Orca it sure came across that way.
Ahab has gone “off the reservation” much to the chagrin of the Navy who now consider him an enemy of the state. Well, he has gone dark with a nuclear submarine. Even Ahab’s own crew are clueless that their captain has gone rogue and honestly believe that the United States Navy has ordered them to go on a mission to kill a still leaving prehistoric whale named Moby Dick considered by most seamen to be an oceanic urban legend.
Barry Bostwick chews so much scenery as Captain Ahab I’d be shocked to hear he wasn’t literally gnawing on the sets in between takes to help stay in character. Bostwick is so bombastically deadpan I spent much of the movie trying to figure out if he was unaware that he was in a campy b-monster movie version of Melville’s literary classic, thus making his pompous performance, sometimes delivering dialogue direct from the novel, all the more campier because of how increasingly preposterous the circumstances of the film are, or if he in on the joke the whole time and realized that playing the role to the hilt while keeping a straight face was precisely what a b-movie of this nature called for.
It wasn’t until near the end when he was standing at the bow of a dingy clutching a giant speargun and letting out a continuous primal scream as he sped forth that I realized he knew what movie he was in and was clearly having a blast camping it up. If there’s one reason to watch this movie it is to experience Bostwick to the max. Ahab's wooden leg is now a robotic boot that looks like something Gene Simmons would wear on-stage during a KISS concert. He’ll eventually gain a more traditional peg leg when he loses his fancy prosthetic limb and replaces it with a wooden burial cross he uproots on an island.
2010: Moby Dick never fully achieves the delirious heights as The Asylum’s Mega Piranha or Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus until the climax when any pretenses of working in dialogue and story elements from Melville’s novel gets chucked out the window in lieu of a ludicrous finale in which we will actually watch Moby Dick wiggle its way onto the shore of an atoll and disappear behind a hill only to then somehow sneak up from behind the shipwrecked sailors to ambush them from a cliff above. Swear to God I’m not making that up. In fact, watching that giant whale beached, thrashing and roaring, I kept wondering when Gamera was going to show up to fight it.
A rousing opening and a cosmically campy climax, but in between there’s sporadic sluggishness and almost all of it occurs whenever we’re subjected to the drudgery of military officials prattling on about how to deal with Ahab’s antics and just about every single second Renee O’Connor’s useless marine biologist character is on the screen.
The former “Xena” sidekick is a marine biologist specializing in whale song recruited, practically abducted, by Ahab to help him track Moby Dick. Sort of the Ishmael of this version, but don’t call her Ishmael. I wish the movie hadn’t called her anything because the scenes focusing primarily on her border on dead air. Watching people sitting around with headsets listening to whale song is about as entertaining as watching people sitting around with headsets listening to whale song.
The production is also greatly hindered by adventuresome visuals more ambitious than the f/x budget allows. Hard not to get the impression that you’re often watching the same set number of computer effect shots repeated over and over from different angles and durations; hard not to because that is exactly what you’re watching.
If you’re just looking for a corny creature feature to snicker at and have some cheap laughs with then 2010: Moby Dick will provide you with some schlock value. Just don’t be surprised if find yourself compelled at times to want to mash the fast forward button between the first and last fifteen minutes.
Now if I may take a moment to comment on something that remains a sticking point with me. A movie titled 2010: Moby Dick just got released on DVD at the end of November 2010. I understand many smaller studios like The Asylum now consider it smart business to put a number before a film’s title because VOD and online retailers list movies beginning with numerals and this makes it more likely to for their films to be seen first – I get that. What I don’t get is releasing a movie with 2010 at the outset of the title at the end of the year 2010. This isn’t like all those “2012” titles that will be outdated in two years because at least those movies are specifically titled to that year because of a perceived catastrophic event that is part of the current cultural zeitgeist. Why not have titled this film 21st Century Moby Dick? Still an unwieldy title, but at least you get your numerical listing and your movie won't be outdated for at least a century instead of a mere 38 days after its release. In all likelihood this film is going to get reissued a year from now for resale in Wal-Mart $5 bins; 2010: Moby Dick is going to sound so passé even to budget shoppers.
2 1/2 out of 5
Discuss 2010: Moby Dick in the comments section below!