- Terence Bowman
- Montreal, Quebec, Canada
- I am a Montreal-based actor, writer and comedian. When U.S. President John F. Kennedy was shot, I was three days old. I cried all day. My favourite books of all time are Moby Dick by Herman Melville, The Last Temptation by Nikos Kazantzakis and The Ewoks Fun Time Activity Book by Chirpa and Pamploo. I am a member of The Vestibules, On The Spot Improv and The Best Buy Battery Club. Except for the Battery Club, I've been at all this stuff for over 20 years. Enjoy my blog.
Monday, March 26, 2012
Killer Whale-o-Saurus vs. Mega Super Sub
Herman Melville’s Moby Dick is a literary classic. It also has all the makings of a great action adventure movie. Melville’s immortal tale of a whaling Captain obsessed with tracking down and killing the great white whale that that maimed him has seen many screen adaptations. Some go as far back as 1926 and some are as recent as the last couple of years.
2010: Moby Dick, is a direct-to-DVD movie produced by The Asylum, the studio responsible sensationalistic fare like Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus. This time around, Captain Ahab trades in his whaling ship for a 21st century nuclear submarine. Moby Dick has been upgraded from sperm whale to super gigantic prehistoric white whale.
The Asylum’s choice of source material for another of their trademark CGI monster movie, though, is perplexing at best. Melville purists would no doubt be outraged that such cheesy schlock is even coming within harpooning range of Moby Dick. The Asylum could have made any low rent creature movie without dragging Melville into it. Surely Killer Whale-o-Saurus vs. Giant Super Sub would grab much more attention in the Netflix catalogue.
Screenwriter Paul Bale’s -shall we say? -unique adaptation displays an unexpected reverence towards Melville. There are curious uses of lines or variations on lines from the novel. When the Ishmael character, Dr. Michelle Herman (played by Renee O’Connor, Xena: Warrior Princess), is introduced, the famous first line of the book, “Call me Ishmael” becomes, “Call me Michelle”.
Bostwick’s performance is also unexpectedly compelling. Entire scenes are transformed whenever Bostwick’s Ahab enters the frame. The presence of a theatrical Shakespearean character with an over-the-top sense of gravitas suddenly juxtaposed with B-movie acting is like watching a Youtube mashup of Plan 9 From Outer Space and King Lear.
The death of Ahab during the movie’s horribly contrived climax is, oddly, very close to the character’s death in the novel. However, if there are attempts to nuke the great white whale in Melville, those pages must be missing from all but a few editions.
Once you get past Bostwik’s Ahab and the somewhat clever Melville references, you are pretty much just left with yet another mediocre B-grade giant sea creature attacks movie. Still 2010: Moby Dick does manage to create a bad-accident-on-the-highway-like fascination towards the whole endeavour.
The movie also opens up the possibilities of more Asylum adaptations of other Herman Melville classics. How about Bartelby: The Curse of the Zombie Scrivener? Or perhaps Billy Budd vs. Predator?
We can only hope.