Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - October, 2011


"Moby Dick" (2010) (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Milton



Ishmael sees his dream of a whaling voyage come true when he joins the crew of the Pequod, a sailing vessel leaving port in Nantucket. Unbeknownst to Ishmael and the mates, the Pequod’s monomaniacal Captain Ahab is taking them all on a mad and personal mission to slay the great whale Moby Dick, an obsession that will open their eyes to the wonder and spectacle of man, of beast, and the inescapable nature of both. The film premiered on the Encore network as a two part movie and is based on the novel by Herman Melville.


  • Vivendi Entertainment
  • 2010, Color, Not Rated, 3 Hr 8 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Codec: VC-1
  • 1080p
  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Starring Ethan Hawke, Donald Sutherland, William Hurt, Gillian Anderson
  • Directed by Mark Barker
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Mild
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Mild


Free will vs self-determinism. Ahab feels compelled to complete his tragic mission even as he sees it unfold before him because he is preordained to do so by a higher authority. Do we plot our own course through life or are we just characters in a great play authored by God? This is the crux of Melville's opus. This philosophical conundrum to be debated in our hearts and our souls is completely obliterated from this empty rewrite. The attitudes are too modern, Ahab is way too happy and not a single sailor sports an authentic New England accent (Hey, I’m from Boston). You know the script has gone terribly awry when Ahab holds an impromptu pep-rally on the ship deck and gets the crew to chant, "Moby Dick, Moby Dick...". Add to it some horrible CGI of the eponymous whale and you have over 2 hours of looking at your watch. Stick to Gregory Peck’s 1956 version where he quotes large passages from the novel, verbatim, and adds gravitas and purpose to the character of Ahab. I recommend that you let this one get away. It is a far cry from the 1956 version, starring Gregory Peck as Ahab, and directed by John Huston.


The picture quality is very good, with most scenes revealing great detail and texture. Lighted scenes look very good, but some of the dark interior scenes crush and lose details. A few of the day lit scenes exhibit a slightly blown-out contrast that drains the color from the skin tones. The downside to this razor sharp HD presentation is the poor CGI effects are really high lighted. The “great white whale” looks misshapen and fat. At no time will you ever mistake him for a real whale. Surround sound is fair, but don’t expect ship board creaking and wind sounds like you’d hear on Master and Commander. The sub comes in when ever the whale appears.


Zilch. It’s a made for TV movie. Were you really hoping to see a “making of” or lengthy commentary?