DVD Review: Moby Dick (2011)

In this reimagined version of Melville’s Moby Dick, the power is in its all-star cast. The beginning of the film does drag a bit, but it successfully allows viewers to “get to know” the members of the crew and gave more of a back story on the main characters in the book.  One character in particular, Ahab’s (Hurt) wife, is briefly mentioned in the 1851 novel, while in the film, she has a name–Elizabeth (Anderson). Elizabeth questions her husband’s seaworthiness after losing his leg to the whale. She knows he has changed, and her concern for her husband was only confirmed when Elijah (Boyd), prophesized his demise.

There is the overall humanizing of Ahab, focusing on his relationship with his wife and the way he inspires, and motivates his crew while aboard the ship. Unbeknownst to any of them at the time, Ahab’s manic obsession in finding the “white whale” who deformed him was the sole motivation of this whaling expedition. He’ is truly a likable fellow overall– and it isn’t any doubt as to why the men willingly followed them on this ill fated voyage.

The only voice of reason on the ship, other than that of young Ishmael (Cox), is Starbuck (Hawke), Ahab’s second in command. He begins to question Captain Ahab’s sanity, and even brings the men aboard the ship to the brink of mutiny. However, on one dark and stormy night, Ahab infuses the crew with a new sense of camaraderie, so the crew sails on.

The actual power in this film isn’t just in the fantastic acting performances of Cox, Hurt, and Hawke; it is in the visuals. Moby Dick is cinematically engaging, and an extreme joy to watch. The special effects are stunning–the rain, the ocean, and the mega whale–persuasive and compelling. And as the crew began to quarrel and fight with one another–the storm of their lives drew nearer. They all were united in finding the “white whale.” The film was highly suspenseful, as Ahab inspires his men one last time by chanting “death to Moby Dick,” and onward they rowed, and just as ignorance blinds and the infallible will and loyalty to their Captain, these men, one by one, met their ever oblivious end.


Overall, Moby Dick, is a brilliant thriller, a film with a spectacular ending, and a cinematic feast for the eyes. The only cons were that the DVD did not provide any special features. It would have been nice to delve deeper on how the film was made, even commentary from the actors on the film.

Moby Dick (2011) is an action/adventure/thriller directed by Mike Barker and screenplay adapted by Nigel Williams, based on Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick. The 2-part original miniseries event premiered August 1st and 2nd on Encore. The series stars Academy Award® winner William Hurt (Children of a Lesser God), Golden Globe® winner Donald Sutherland (Citizen X), Academy Award® nominee Ethan Hawke (Daybreakers), Gillian Anderson (The X-Files TV series), Eddie Marsan (Sherlock Holmes), Charlie Cox (Stardust), and Billy Boyd (The Lord of the Rings) in a psychological thriller of one man’s decent into madness.

Moby Dick 2011 is available now on DVD from Vivendi Entertainment.