I finally got a chance to watch this movie the other day on netflix and I really liked it. You have to have read the book and seen the other movies to appreciate this. If not then this movie would suck pretty bad. It was made for the fans, but most of you here already have done all that. So now onto the review that is full of SPOILERS
So the movie starts in 1969 with young Jonah Ahab as a seaman on a sub in Soviet waters. I love how they gave him a first name when he never had one. And Jonah is fitting as now you put in two Biblical references with the first name a prophecy of things to come as the original Jonah was eaten by a whale, though temporarily. One of the many discrepancies in the film was that Ahab as a boy had brown eyes and as an adult had bright icy blue eyes. Oops. So Ahab hears Moby Dick for the first time and records his sound, or the absences of sound. But turns out Moby Dick is an evil 500 foot whale that attacks the sub, launching it into the sky through the sea ice. It's an awesome scene and it was at this point I got very excited because I realized I was watching a kaiju (giant monster) movie. The sub is split in half. Everyone dies except Ahab and seaman "Boomer". Out of spitfulness Moby pokes his eye in through the wreckage a la Jurassic Park T-rex style and sees Ahab still conscious inside. He pulls out the debris that was pinning him down and it rips off his leg and Boomer's hand then he leaves them on the ice for dead. The start of Ahab's hate and obsession with this whale.
Fast forward to I suppose 2010. It only said "present day". Marine Biologist Michel Herman (a nice reference to Herman Melville the author of the book) is on her little boat The Coffin
with Pip her assistant. I was a bit disappointed they made Ishmael a female. So forget the famous line "Call me Ishmael." As a female monster movie fan one reason I like Moby Dick is for the all male cast. Points lost here for screwing up Ishmael's character. While watching whales a submarine rises from the waters making funny water BLOOP sounds like it's a toy in a bathtub. Starbuck comes out and tells her and Pip they have to come on board. They are introduced to other familiar characters like Stubbs, Flask and Queequeg. Too bad no Dagoo or Tashtego. And points off for Queequeg not having tatoos everywhere. The best movie Queequeg was the one from the Patrick Stewart movie.
Funny side plot. A whale watching boat gets attacked my Moby Dick in the same area. This scene was really bad because the boat driver supposedly an expert said the female whales are bigger. They are not. The males are bigger. They were hump backs and he said it was the biggest whale he had ever seen. May-be he's only been out twice. The ridiculousness of a humpback doing a full breech like a dolphin was quickly forgotten when Moby jumps out from below, eats her in mid air then crash on the boat smashing everyone but a Russian woman. Seems he likes to leave only one survivor when he attacks. Perhaps it's his calling card.
So he's framed Ahab beautifully because back at military HQ they think Ahab is responsible for all the boat sinkings. It's too bad the general's name wasn't Bildad or Peleg. But he sends Boomer out to investigate what's going on if it is Ahab sinking other ships with his sub.
Back on the sub The Pequad, Ahab tells Michel he wants her help tracking down Moby Dick. When she is shown photos of attacked photos she says something like, "This does not correlate with evidence of Physeter macrocephalus. My first though before anyone spoke was "We didn't mention sperm whales." How did she jump to this conclusion? She must be partially psychic.
At this time another sub is searching for the Pequad. The Essex. Awesome tribute since this was the name of the ship that the real Moby Dick sank and inspired Melville to write the story.
There was another bad scene where Michel couldn't get the cassette Ahab recorded to work because it was jammed. Pip takes it and a micro cassette, pulls both open and puts the reel of the cassette into the microcassette. As an 80's child having grown up with nothing but cassettes and records this made me laugh. First off it would have taken hours the way he was unraveling it. And second the width of a micro cassette and a regular cassette are different so he wouldn't have been able to fix it that fast or even fit one into the other let alone get it to play. BAD BAD!! He's not a hero at that point.
Moby Dick is attacking the Essex (again). One of the best lines from this scene was when the captain yells, "What is it? Shoot!" It could have been a harmless ship but you fire first and aim later in these movies. It's more fun that way. The fire a torpedo which Moby brings back around and blows up the Essex with its own weapon. Awesome scene and brilliant as he's just framing poor Ahab more and more.
By now the millitary wants Ahab dead because they think he blew up the Essex and everything else. Boomer flies out in a chopper to warn Ahab. Another chopper finds the Pequard first and fires into the water. But it's ok because the Pequad is bullet proof and no one has watched Myth Busters or they'd know bullets are stopped by water after a few inches. Something huge comes on radar and Ahab thinks it's Moby Dick though Ishmale uh I mean Michel tells him it's not. Like other other captain he orders to fire. One of the funniest scene happens when the nuclear torpedo flies out of the water (can they do that?) nearly hits the chopper then lands in the water and blows up in a beautiful nuclear blast. The following awesome lines are said by the helicopter crew.
"What was that?"
"Congratulations, Ahab. You just nuked a school of squid."
Then Ahab escapes, but Moby comes on the scene and eats the chopper.
The crew forms a custom torpedo named "Fedalah". Nice little tribute to Ahab's personal Asian harpooner he snuck onto the ship. Too bad there will be no prophecy about him going before him now. But I still thought it was cool they stuck that in. It's one of those things if you haven't read the book that scene would be meaningless and cheesy. So Moby is hooked and pulls the Pequad into "deep" water. They had to cut loose just before 4,000 feet because it was too deep and too great a pressure. Supposedly this sub was designed by Ahab himself to withstand great depths, but they weren't even a mile deep. A mile is 5,280 feet. So much for great design. It was funny when they cut free and blasted to the surface and did a perfect landing like a toy boat.
Boomer finally catches up and there's a weird scene where he and the pilot kept switching seats. I guess the footage got reversed. Chopper crashes also making soft BLOOP sounds. Some how Boomer gets on the Pequad. He's the one that had the "knife" scene though in this case it was a hand gun. Too bad they didn't stay true to the book because that was Starbuck's part originally. Then the movie gets really fun when they trap Moby in an atoll. Everyone gets machine guns and inflatable boats and goes in after him. Ahab gets a cool futuristic harpoon with a tiny barb. Even Gregory Peck in the old time had a better spear tip than that and he didn't go against a 500 foot monster. Also I couldn't figure out why Navy sailors were wearing green Army camo.
A few more funny lines and mistakes ensue in the final battle. They are carrying "unpredictable mines" in a duffel bag. The touchy mines didn't blow up when Moby tried to escape but only when a torpedo hit them. The Pequad couldn't go in because the water was too shallow. Only 12 feet deep so how did Moby that's even bigger than the Pequad get in? Also how did he go for a deep dive and destroy two of the boats in only 12 feet of water? The worst part was and I wish they hadn't done this when he went on land like a caterpillar. Yes he went on land. Then FLEW over the mountains and jumped back into the water. I'm pretty good at suspending my disbelief in these movies but that was just too much. No very BAD. But there was a beautiful scene were one of the sailors was standing in shallow water then saw the eye just under the surface and he was standing on Moby. Michel mentioned that the birds signaled the return of the whale. But they showed pelicans that are NOT indicators and worse they were making seagull sounds. I took more points off for that. Ahab takes the last dingy and harpoons Moby. Yes he gets tangled in the ropes and Moby makes off with him. He rams the Pequad destroying it, but not before it lets off one final nuke. It makes it to the Island and blows it up. But some how Michel manages to out run a nuclear blast and lives to tell the tale. No mention if she floated for 3 days and nights. The Rachel was in the movie. But she was a cruise ship and that's now who picked up Michel but a chopper. WTF? So much for the symbolic rescue of the Rachel. And too bad she didn't have her Coffin boat that was at the beginning.
Ok so apart from some of the really bad stuff I mentioned the movie was very good. The effects were ok. Nice in this day and age that even B movies can afford CGI. Just look how many kids here got a hold of photoshop. The action was great. The movie moved the whole time. The music was a wonderful pumping classical score that keep things exciting. And some of the cheesy lines made the movie fun. I can see that if done right a modern Moby Dick movie would actually work very well.
So my rating for this movie is an 8 out of 10. I do recommend it.
~ Your Captain Thagirion