Moby Dick review (DVD) ?½

Let’s get this straight from the beginning. The only reason you should consider watching this modern interpretation of Melville’s classic is for the performance of Bostwick. The cult star of The Rocky Horror Picture Show has quite obviously decided that if he’s going to appear in low-budget trash then he’s going to go as far over the top with the material he’s been given as possible. You can almost picture the suits from The Asylum (yes, of course this is from them) turning up at his house with a bag full of cash, a written-in-five-minutes script and directions to the set on Monday morning.

As such, Bostwick has channelled the spirit of every cranky old sea captain ever put on screen, turned it all up to eleven, and realised that as his version of literary icon Captain Ahab now has a robotic leg then what’s the point of taking it seriously. As such, whenever he’s on screen Moby Dick (or 2010 : Moby Dick to give the proper title) picks up. Very slightly. Witness the scene with Ahab standing on the prow of a dingy, spear gun in hand, screaming at his nemesis; you can almost see the grin on Bostwick’s face. He’s having a great time. Show me the money.

This time around we’ve got a prehistoric whale on the loose, who took Ahab’s leg after attacking the nuclear submarine he was a cadet on back in 1969. Since then Ahab has been obsessed with revenge, his hatred for the behemoth turning him into a virtual undersea recluse. After he hears reports of a giant sea beast he goes rogue, disobeying orders and taking his clueless crew straight to the heart of the enemy. Up until this point the plot follows fairly closely both the novel and John Huston’s 1956 classic. But this is The Asylum we’re talking about, the churn-em-out Indie studio who never let irritations such as plot and pacing stand in the way of a CG creature. As such, the script is torn up in favour of the whale attacking a cruise liner, swallowing a helicopter whole and battering Ahab’s submarine across the ocean floor with it’s tail. A truly batshit finale finds the whale actually taking to the land; emerging onto an island, sneaking behind a hill and waiting for soldiers to turn up before ambushing them from behind in a scene more outrageous than Bostwick’s old friend Dr Frank-N-Furter. It would be great to say that this is a modern allegory on the state of modern society; the hunter becoming the hunted. It isn’t. It’s a big fish sneaking behind a hill, but if you’ve come this far you’ll probably accept it.

As ridiculous as these moments are, they don’t appear often enough, and Moby Dick pads out it’s running time with dull characters endlessly giving explanations for the origin and behaviour of the whale or arguing about how to deal with Ahab. People sit around with earphones listening to whale songs. Chances are you wouldn’t do this for real, so why would you choose to watch it? Aisha Tyler is appealing enough as a marine biologist (although she’s a long way from CSI, and is probably firing her agent at this moment) but she’s given nothing to work with. Renee O’Connor is on the same level. Both are talented actresses but the truth is nothing could save this wreck. This is a picture devoid of style or any form of direction, a so-bad-it’s-bad movie with effects so awful a PowerPoint presentation would look slicker. You’ll watch the opening, and chances are you’ll fast forward through to the end. Better still, why not just check out the trailer? All you need to see is available in ninety seconds. Which is a statement you could level at just about all The Asylum’s output. Really, apart from the Sci-Fi channel, who’s the hell is buying this stuff?

EXTRAS ★ Nothing could really save this disaster, and there’s an unfunny Blooper reel and a short Behind-The-Scenes feature that, trust us, you won’t watch.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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