Moby Dick (TV Mini-Series 2011– ) Poster

(2011– )

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6/10
Not the best of Ahabs.
emmalsearle15 May 2011
I'm going to go out on a limb and say Moby Dick doesn't lend itself to film and TV adaptations. The tale is dramatic, it's action-packed, it's visual and it's exciting, but there's an awful lot in the original text that you have to leave out in order to film it coherently. Melville's book is encyclopedic. It tells you a lot about whales and whaling; the motivations of the whalers, the camaraderie on board, the mechanics of capturingand dissecting the largest animal in the ocean and extracting theuseful stuff that keeps America burning. This adaptation (and probably ANY adaptation) cuts to the chase, omitting these complex descriptions of whaling life in favour of characters and action, the meat and potatoes of Hollywood filmmaking. In doing so, it loses something of the quality of the story. It also loses the narrator: on TV, Ishmael, a witty and endearing narrator, becomes a one-dimensional protagonist, totally overshadowed by Ahab.

This is Ahab's film. William Hurt dominates every scene he appears in, and he appears in most of them. I'm convinced he's pulling out all the stops, aiming for an Emmy. I'm not sure how else to explain the hammy overacting, the grizzly beard, the cheesy dialogue delivered in a carefully cultivated "old salt" accent (ie. "aargh!" "aye!"). Hurt thinks he's playing Hamlet, and he wants Ahab's descent into madness to be central to the story.

Ahab is typically dark, cursed, scarred, traumatised, intimidating and vengeful. Hurt's Ahab is just plain crazy. He jokes around with his men, delivers many of his most serious lines while grinning through his beard and squinting his eyes. On board the Pequod, he's like everybody's affectionate but slightly volatile Grandpa, not averse to a hug or a bit of laugh over a stein of grog. He says too much, and much of it is hard to understand, delivered in a sing-song cadence with emphasis in unusual places. Oscillating between booming vocal projection of Shakespearean proportions and just plain talking to himself, and introspective mumbling in which he appears to be talking to himself, Hurt seems to be performing for his own benefit rather than for an audience. This is an attempt to indicate Ahab's madness in a way nobody else has done before, but it alienates the audience as well as his fellow actors, and it's just not good acting. He's a piratey caricature whose attempts at pathos are unpersuasive. I prefer Gregory Peck's intense, brooding Ahab. A good Ahab should indicate more than he actually says, a dark exterior concealing untold depths of turmoil and mystery - like the sea! Argh!

Ethan Hawke is a solid Starbuck, and a very human foil to Hurt's gruff, squinty captain. He's emotional, penetrative, and seriously worried about the fate of the ship. More than anyone else he embodies the atmosphere of impending doom that plagues the voyage, and his sense of mortality is a visibly heavy burden. When Starbuck says that what he wants most from the journey is "to see Nantucket again", you believe him. He's a homesick sailor. At that point, everything's beginning to go awry and we'd all like to see the Pequod turn around and go home. Starbuck's finest hour comes at the very end - I won't give anything away, but it's profoundly moving. Hawke's performance salvaged something of an otherwise perfunctory adaptation.

Moby himself is, of course, CGI. In short, like so many massive movie monsters, he doesn't look real. It's not bad CGI, but it's difficult to convey the sublime weightiness of such a vast, living creature with special effects. Moreover, Moby is no ordinary animal - he's an icon, with a personality and a sense of mischief. At it's heart, the story of a whale cheating a whaler is almost comic, with the feel of a fable. I wonder if an animation might capture the spirit of the character (Moby is a character!) more than live action film with CGI. For the most part, they do a pretty decent job of Moby, except for a totally unnecessary scene at the very end which is embarrassingly rudimentary and looks like a scene from a video game.

In summary, as a production it could be worse, but it didn't add anything to my experience of the story. I couldn't help feeling some of the actors involved (Donald Sutherland, Gillian Anderson, William Hurt) were simply trying to add another period piece to their CV's. They fulfilled the brief, but their performances were not memorable. Honourable mentions go to Eddie Marsan, who was an excellent Stubbs, and Billy Boyd who makes an impressive cameo as deranged prophet Elijah. There were some saving graces, but I'm yet to see an adaptation of Moby Dick that captures the spirit of the book. As nautical tales go, Peter Weir's Master and Commander gives a more vivid impression of life at sea.

This canonical story with the feel of a great myth is told and retold, so perhaps there is yet hope for a cinematic adaptation that does the book justice. No doubt someone will take another stab at Moby Dick in the not-too-distant future; pun absolutely intended.
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Huh?
jmcdnnll9921 August 2011
It seems that each filmed version of Moby-Dick is compelled to be worse than the one before and that each embodier of the partially disembodied Ahab must make his predecessor seem better, not just in the distance of time but also in distanced performance. Who will underperform William Hurt I hope never to see. Each scriptwriter also must feel a need to demonstrate the superiority of Melville's original, both in his concept and execution. The most recent version appears somewhat like a Second City take on Moby-Dick Meets The Outsiders: all the tortured Jugendangst! Ethan Hawke does do a good C. Thomas Howell sendup, but Hawke should rather be doing a good performance of a first mate, one who is one step below the ship's master. Even the Pequod gets nonverisimilitude. A square-rigged whaler gets turned into a bark. If people cared enough to write, finance, film, and present what is generally regarded as a if not the preeminent work of American fiction, why was care and cash not more carefully scripted and directed? Even the cgi attempt at the whale of whales had the look of an audition submission for an early ScyFy project.
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3/10
Sadly, an unnecessary remake
bjodra8 August 2012
Unfortunately, this remake should have remained undone. Despite reputable actors, the film does not touch and the tension never arises. The directing and the screenplay is weak, e.g. suddenly we are informed that the Pequod has been to sea for 30 months(!), while it appears as they just left harbor. The madness of Ahab comes out as likable and understandable and the rationality and the sense of Starbuck appears theatrical. The three harpooners play inconspicuous parts in the film instead of adding to the tension. Ishmael - poorly played with a constant snug smile by Charlie Cox - looks simply ridiculous throughout the film. In summary a disappointing remake.
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2/10
Sodden Soap Opera
yackw20 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
It is difficult to believe that this cloying mess is an honest attempt to bring one of the world's great literary masterworks to film. Rather it is easier to believe that it is a movie adaptation of a comic book version of Moby Dick.

William Hurt is a fine actor trapped in a screenplay that wobbles about between boring and unintentionally hilarious. His self-loathing Ahab is a sort of leering Popeye on brown acid, declaiming anachronistic soliloquies when he is not flirting outrageously with Starbuck, Pip, and Ishmael. Is this intended as a subplot concerning the effects of too many months at sea?

A completely confused Ishmael, who looks more like a freshly groomed Dolce & Gabbana model than a sailor, appears to have no idea where he is or what he is supposed to be doing. Not seen to do anything that remotely resembles a seaman's duty, he simply hangs around with the captain.

And the whale. About as realistic as a demonic Nemo out to sink the Titanic.

Poor whale. Poor actors. Poor viewers. Poor Melville.
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5/10
Plot seriously mangled, but themes are intact
brian-a-emmett16 May 2011
I just finished watching this and I don't have time to write an extensive review, but I will say a couple of things about this production.

Many, many liberties were taken with the plot. In fact the opening scene may blow you right out of the water. And Caption Ahab has apparently been swayed by New Age sharing and caring! But the essence of Melville's work may be considered intact if you take the view that he was a Transcendentalist, along with Whitman and others of that era.

If you hold to that interpretation of this production you may enjoy it on that level (see Jed Mckenna's "Spiritually Incorrect Enlightenment" for more on that). In fact if you hold to the conventional interpretation- that of a psycho-social critique of man's hubris against Nature, you will also probably be satisfied at the thematic level.

A few fine scenes but Ahab's wild and fantastic speeches are missing - which to me are the greatest of joys.

The treatment of the finale is decent.

Good luck!
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This is not Moby Dick.
kickaxerrr23 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
"Moby Dick" is my favorite novel. I have read it many times. William Hurt and Ethan Hawke are two of my favorite actors. So I had high hopes for this movie version. My hopes were diminished slightly in the opening scene where Ishmael, the main character, saves Pip, the future cabin boy, from a beating on the way to Nantucket and brings him along. That scene never happened in the book. Pip doesn't show up until they are all on the ship, but I know that some liberties need to be taken in a translation from novel to movie, so I dismissed it. Then my hopes were completely dashed over the next 3 hours. In those 3 hours there were about 15 minutes worth of film that were actually taken from the book. It is as though the screenwriter read the back cover of the novel, where it says that it is the story of an obsessed captain chasing a white whale and wrote a completely new story based on nothing but that. One of the more obvious things is that, in the book, Ahab, the captain, doesn't even appear until days into the sea voyage when he finally emerges from his cabin. In the movie the first half hour or more involves him at home with his wife and son, neither of which are even in the book at all. Even the climactic ending has been changed a great deal. It would take up too much space to write about all the other things that are completely different from the novel. Basically this is not a film version of "Moby Dick" at all, it is an invention of the screenwriter, based on a similar idea.

Forgetting all that, the movie itself, as a movie, is just not that good. The direction is OK and the performances are all relatively good, except for Hurt, who is, as another reviewer said "hammy" and "cheesy". He should have played a sandwich instead of Ahab. The special effects are sub par, considering what can be done nowadays. The whales shown often don't even make a splash when they dive under. They just disappear. The plot is thin with none of the characters really developed in any way, except perhaps for Starbuck the first mate, who is the only one in the movie who seems to even realize what is going on. Two earlier versions, the 1956 version with Gregory Peck and the 1998 version with Patrick Stewart, despite their own flaws were much better movies and more faithful adaptations of the novel than this one. So watch those, or even better read the book.
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Watch At Your Own Risk
a-wheeler13 November 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Hollywood has been making Moby Dick movies for almost 100 years. Why, after all this time, has nobody gotten it right? John Huston tried, and did the best of anyone. Peck was the right man for the job and the script was pretty solid. Enough cannot be said about Orson Welles' turn as Father Mapple. But it had its flaws. Richard Basehart was completely miscast as Ishmael.

In this version, there was a misfired attempt to to give Ahab a back story, complete with a wife and child and a kind disposition. It completely destroyed the core of the character. Ahab was reclusive, mean and bitter. We only should hear murmurings about him initially, not see him giving advice to his son at the dinner table or kissing his lovely wife as they relax in the parlor.

And what was that ridiculous nonsense about Ishmael saving Pip from his abusive owner at the beginning? Was it simply a device to get him to say the opening "Call me Ishmael" line? When the makers of these films try to give progressive qualities to the heroes... well, it simply comes off as forced. Melville does a wonderful job of it already. His interactions with Queequeg, especially in the beginning, are tremendously touching. This was almost completely ignored in this version, replaced by Ishmael acting as another clichéd White Savior.

Also, quite inexplicably, the location of the docked Pequod was changed from New Bedford to Nantucket. What was the point of that?, I kept asking myself.

The cast all seems happy to be there. Gillian Anderson does her best to continue to act like she's British. Hurt, as Ahab, is fairly impotent. Ethan Hawke's hastily grown mustache did the bulk of the heavy lifting as Starbuck. The rest came straight from Central Casting.

What does this have going for it? Weeeell. . . Charlie Cox was OK, if a little stiff. Slightly better at it than Henry Thomas, I should say.

Watch this if you love Moby Dick, but don't expect too much. Certainly don't watch this one if you're trying to write an essay for your high school English class. Your teacher will know right away you were too lazy to read the book.
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8/10
Actually I Was Pleasantly Surprised
flixspix2 August 2011
After non-stop disappointment at the movies this Summer, the latest being Cowboys & Aliens for so many reasons, this "freebie" on Encore came as a very pleasant surprise. William Hurt as Ahab was rock solid and while this may sound like heresy, was more fully rounded and interesting than Gregory Peck, whose monolithic performance embarrassed him in later years, and he didn't mind saying so in numerous interviews. (Still he had that great baritone voice) The supporting cast was fine (Ethan Hawk a bit too contemporary) and the production values commendable given the constraints of the budget. Liberties were taken from the classic novel but far from a dumbing down. And the finale, a virtual battle with the white leviathon was surprisingly effective if not all together a solid action set-piece....... far more so than anything in the aforementioned Cowboys and Aliens. I would have to say its worth checking out for most tastes and nothing too objectionable for kids over seven if they can deal with the hunting of whales.
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"Call me Ishmael'
gradyharp3 August 2011
As the novel opens, 'Call me Ishmael' are the first words of the sole survivor of a lost whaling ship as he relates the tale of his captain's self-destructive obsession to hunt the white whale, Moby Dick. They are words that have become often quoted by many authors and poets and for any number of reasons, yet they open the mysteries and beauties of one of the greatest American novels every written. There have been many cinematic productions of MOBY DICK, Herman Melville's 1851 supreme novel - 1956 with Gregory Peck as Ahab and 1998 with Patrick Stewart in the Ahab role - and each has its strong and weak points. There are many detractors of this current version who rightfully state that too few of Ahab's great speeches and lines have been omitted and that this version is too influenced by contemporary reasoning. But the tale is a great one and the splendid extended reveries and 'speeches' of Captain Ahab rest beautifully on the written page, a factor that allows mulling over the words and the meaning and the drama that may just fall a bit heavy when incorporated into a screenplay. Better the flavor of the story be conveyed by what cinema allows - imagery - that books can't mimic. This current version does just that - it finds the core of the obsession of a man driven by a struggle with his past, with nature, and with the personal vendetta against the great white whale, Moby Dick, who claimed Ahab's leg in the past. Nigel Williams is responsible for the screenplay, Mike Barker directs.

Ishmael (Charlie Cox) sees his dream of a whaling voyage come true when he and his Hapoonist friend Queequeeg (Raoul Trujillo) join the crew of the Pequod, a sailing vessel leaving port in Nantucket. What Ishmael and the mates don't initially appreciate is that the Pequod's monomaniacal Captain Ahab (William Hurt) 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 flavor of the crew is well captured by a solid cast, including Ethan Hawke as a rather weak Starbuck, Eddie Marsan as Stubb, Billy Boyd as Elijah, Billy Merasty as Tashtego, Onyekachi Ejim as Dagoo, Matthew as Flask, James Gilbert as Steelkit, Gary Levert as Perth, and Daniyah Ysrayl as the cabin boy Pip. The special effects offer vivid and credible underwater activity of Moby Dick and the clashes with nature both within the crew and on the ocean are very well represented. The final underwater scene with Ahab strapped dead to the still alive and swimming Moby Dick is unforgettably realistic and a fine balance with the ever-innocent Ishmael grasping the empty coffin as the sole survivor of the voyage.

William Hurt gives us a different Ahab in Nigel Williams' script adaptation - less mad but more obsessed, less cruel and more vulnerable than we are used to seeing - but he is strong and takes us with him as he meets his end in his struggle with Nature. It is a moving adventure and despite the omissions that seem to bother most viewers, the movie does cast a spell over the entire 3 hours.

Grady Harp
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7/10
Agreeable retelling in which Captain Ahab commands a surly ship of whale hunters through sheer ruthlessness and ego ,
ma-cortes7 September 2014
Fine television rendition about Herman Neville novel with enjoyable interpretations from all-star-cast . In this extremely loose adaptation of Melville's classic novel, Ahab is revealed initially not as a bitter and revengeful madman . This oceans saga features the sole survivor of a lost whaling ship who relates the tale of a white whale and the captain Ahab's obsession with desires for vendetta upon the greatest animal . It starts in New Bedford , Massachussets, where arrives a novice named Ishmael (Charlie Cox) who signs aboard the whaling ship Pequod and befriends a Polynesian native , harpooner Queequeg (Raoul Trujillo). He meets Elijah (Billy Boyd) , Stubb (Eddie Marsan) , Starbuck (Ethan Hawke) and captain Ahab (Gregory Peck) who has a self-destructive obsession to hunt the white whale , Moby Dick . Ahab consecrates his life to hunt it full of hating and vengeance . Soon enough Ishmael aware about the great white whale who claimed the captain's leg and Ahab's determination to seek avenge on the beast that crippled and scarred him , no matter what the cost to himself , his crew or ship .

Yet another take on of Melville's classic battle of wills story . The picture is a fine television adaptation of the famous novel well scripted/adapted and ably realized . Moby Dick is an attractive tale of life on the high seas, and in particular on board a whale schooner named 'Pequod' . This impressive adaptation based on Herman Melville's 1851 classic novel is vividly brought to screen . The interactions between Ahab, Michigan & Stubb is reminiscent of captain Vere, Billy Budd & Master-at-arms John Claggart, the main characters of Billy Budd, another novel written by Moby-Dick's author, Herman Melville , and it results to be one of the most thrilling and moving see sagas ever written . Suspense and tension of the ocean is completely captured , including enduring images as the storm with the 'fire of Saint Telmo' . Climatic final battle is an overwhelming piece of cinema as you are likely to watch . Nigel Williams wrote a screenplay that was partially faith to the novel and filmmaker Mike Binder stamping this movie with epic images and thought-provoking dialogs . Enjoyable recounting , including quite a few moments that click make this top-of-the-range movie more than watchable . The FX experts created a great whale made by means of ordinary computer generator . Top-notch main and secondary cast realize extraordinary performances . William Hurt is nice as well as Ethan Hawke and Charlie Cox . Phenomenal support cast as Eddie Marsan as Stubb , Gillian Anderson as Elizabeth , Billy Boyd as Elijah , Raoul Trujillo as Queequeg and Stephen McHattie as Rachel Captain . Cameraman Richard Greatrex's appropriate color cinematography splendidly conveys the bleaker qualities of the chase . Exciting and thrilling musical score by Richard Mitchell. The motion picture was professionally directed by Mike Binder , though with no originality . He's a nice director working usually for television as ¨Moby Dick¨, ¨Sea wolf¨ ,¨Lorna Doone¨ and occasionally for cinema as ¨A good woman¨, ¨To kill a king¨ and o ¨Butterfly on a wheel¨ his best movie.

Other renditions about this famous novel are the followings : 1930 rendition by Lloyd Bacon with John Barrymore, this is the first production of "Moby Dick" to have a leading female character , Joan Blondell . Moby Dick (1959) by John Huston , an over-the-top rendition of Herman Melville's high seas saga with a sensational Gregory Peck as unforgettable captain Ahab . It's remade in 1998 TV series by Franc Roddan with Patrick Stewart ,Henry Thomas , Bill Hunter and Gregory Peck who takes on the character of Jonah-and-the-whale sermonizing Father Mapple who in classic adaptation was vividly played by Orson Welles . Furthermore , recent lousy rendition full of computer generator FX starred by Barry Bostwick and Renee O'Connor .
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Unworthy
turnerwinkel24 October 2016
This is an unsuccessful effort with fine actors and beautiful views of the sea and sailing vessels. It is by far the most disappointing performance I have seen by William Hurt, an actor who has given us many fine performances. I suppose it is too much to hope that there will ever be a film that actually spends time on the essential things in the novel, since they are not that cinematic in nature. The most effective part of the film is the representation of Nantucket, replete with a scene from a church service. The ship's masthead on the pulpit is quite striking and authentic. Otherwise, this film struggles to take a new approach to an old subject, but the result is sometimes ludicrous. There are several instances of modern-day idioms which make one cringe, given the context of nineteenth-century speech (e.g. "I'm just messin' with you"). The crew members are shown gleefully singing sea shanties as if this is the real reason they have gone to sea, the camera zooms in on their faces so the audience will see how awestruck they are at the sight of a whale, and the computer-generated image of Moby Dick is just plain laugh-out-loud ridiculous. The crew shouting "Moby Dick, Moby Dick, . . ." sounds like something from a football pep rally. (You almost expect them to spell it out next "M-O-B-Y-D-I-C-K"). Ishmael's narration of the story is minimal, so much so that it seems almost out of place. The totally invented part about the child lost at sea and miraculously found is never explained or rationalized. How did he suddenly become separated and how could Ishmael possibly have known where to look? The film begins with a soon-to-be neurotic and obsessed Captain Ahab having dinner peacefully at home with his wife and child. The ship sets out from Nantucket for some reason. (In the book it is New Bedford. What on earth did this change hope to accomplish?) In short, this movie is part action film, part cartoon.
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1/10
The Pacific island of Mexico.
Chakriya18 January 2014
This lost me with Queequeg. Please, a Mexican with bad Maori imitation tattoos and an incomprehensible accent playing a Tongan/Fijian? About as special as Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's. And that pretty much sums up this remake.

Yes, the names of the characters are the same. There are even some recognisable plot elements, like that stuff about the whale. And I don't even blame the screenwriters for omitting the 100-odd chapters of description about various forms of blubber. But please, hire a Tongan next time, I'm sure there are a few in California. Hey, get a Samoan if you are really stuck. But at least get the hemisphere right, if nothing else.
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4/10
Not the whale of a tale that it could have been
TheLittleSongbird4 July 2014
Herman Melville's Moby Dick is a brilliant book in every way, but it has proved to be a very difficult one to adapt. As an adaptation fans of the book will find much to complain about with this version, but an adaptation stands a fairer chance at being judged on its own. In that regard this version has its moments but falls short. It is well-shot and edited, the authenticity of the costumes, scenery and the production design is to be admired, the music is rousing and haunting and there are three bright spots. Eddie Marsan is very likable and charming, Ethan Hawke brings a moving quality to a conflicted character and Raul Trujillo is a fun Queequeg. The cast is a talented one but apart from those three actors it falls flat. Gillian Anderson could have been a bright spot but she is so dour that she comes across as unusually dull while Charlie Cox has one expression only literally and that's smug but that Ishmael is very one-dimensional does him no favours. More problematic is William Hurt, who initially seemed a great choice for Ahab but tries way too hard so Ahab's vengeance and complexity is lost, he really overeggs the pudding here and shouts and strains his way through the role. How Moby Dick is rendered is one of the adaptation's major failings, the adaptation gets the colour and the way he swims exactly right but the CGI for the whale is often lousy and too over-proportioned. The script also fails, sometimes there is some of Melville's prose but a lot of it does sound too modern and it noticeably jars. The characters have very little depth, Starbuck excepted, Ahab is one of the most fascinating characters in all of literature but seems too humanised at the beginning and later becomes too much of a clown due to how Hurt portrays him. The back-stories were a good idea but don't say very much and a lot of them drag on for far too long, the first forty minutes in particular are quite pedestrian. The story is short on suspense and the first half drags quite badly and doesn't get much better, ending with a very contrived finale that is choreographed like a mix of playground antics and cheap video-game. In conclusion, has moments but lacking in a lot of areas. 4/10 Bethany Cox
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6/10
something's fishy (and it's the weird mix of genres)
omgitsjaclyn13 May 2018
Disclaimer- anything would be sufficiently entertaining at 4 am, which is incidentally when i watched this.

so. you meet Ishmael; you like Ishmael. he's wide-eyed and kinda naive (yet adorable), so you expect character development. it never comes. he seems to get more naive as time passes, somehow, and it's irritating. he also experiences two whole emotions, these being (1) vaguely apprehensive (2) mildly confused. he's cute at first; then he's just stupid.

ahab is doing The Most and has a weird crush (?) on Ishmael. actually everybody has a huge crush on Ishmael, which is entirely valid but also kind of hilarious.

Starbuck is actually really good (even though he's 12 times more subtle than everyone else, which kinda stands out). You feel for him. He made me cry and I'm not a crier. now im crying again.

They occasionally show the very cute friendship between Ish, Queequeg, Dagoo (whom i love), and Tashtego but it's not developed much and is really only proven by a prolonged group cuddle session (which is not in itself a bad thing). speaking of, where's the We Are Married scene? just saying.

pip is adorable and sweet and i love him.

there is gratuitous cgi whale. meh.

there are pacing issues. you're like, "okay we're on day 1 of the voyage" and then they're like No It's Been 13 Months Somehow. like, I understand that you have to skip Ishmael's whale anatomy lectures from the book but there's some ~critical~ stuff that they shouldn't have left out (like character development! and the sperm squeezing scene (squeeze! squeeze! squeeze! all morning long). and the queeshmael cuddle sesh. ooh, also the whale penis coat. what a nice book).

this could have worked with more than two parts and somebody on standby to tell Hurt to chill. there's a lot of plots that are started and never finished satisfactorily (ex. Mrs Ahab's storyline). But maybe i'm just a purist. idk. it was a decent reason not to sleep.
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5/10
A half dead whale of a tale
Samiam316 July 2017
This low budget production of Moby Dick stars William hurt as William hurt and Ethan Hawke as Ethan hawke, treating Ahab and Starbuck as anything but literary iconography. There are some half decent early scenes showcasing Ahab as a husband before setting off on the ill fated Pequod. The ship looks like a kid brother vessel to the massive version in John Huston's film with thirteen sails.

Ahab wins over his crew promising a Spanish gold piece to whoever raises him Moby Dick. He plays this scene with an ill advised sense of good humour before leading his men in a tacky chant of "moby dick" as if they were Atlanta Braves fans doing the chop.

As for a Moby Dick himself, I almost don't even remember him being in the movie. There are no memorable shots or screen appearances of the great White Whale. The movie even sidesteps the iconic sequence where Ahab leaps on the whale's back and takes harpoon to him. It is entirely possible that this was written out to avoid the expense of such a shot.

This Moby Dick goes down with the Pequod.
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7/10
Oddly watchable.
maialyncables20 June 2012
There is something captivating about Encore's 2 part version of Moby Dick. While the other reviews are accurate to point out: Ethan Hawke seems clueless, as if he isn't even sure why he is on a ship; and Hurt is hammy and often hard to understand. Somehow that adds to the charm.

The Pip being rescued from Ish early on is indeed out of place and completely unrealistic. It feels like a deleted scene from Lord of the Rings part 1, and the rest of the adaptation contains similar out of place, unrealistic scenes.

There is still a strong draw to it. The charisma of QQ and the various bro-mancing while playing dress up on a boat, pretending to be whaling, it's hard to pin down what makes it work for me.

It's not "so bad it's funny" as much as it's, so oddly put together it becomes compelling. After every scene I wonder if I missed something, or why I don't understand the Starbuck character yet, I marvel at the crew's willingness to cheer after ho-hum speeches about revenge, and the hot potato blame game going on with the crew.

The Ahab back-story is ludicrous yet Gillian Anderson is just fun to watch on screen and the "love story" with Hurt, I could watch that for hours on end as I never quite get where it's going, or what the point is. I'm on edge waiting for some plot point or character development that remains out of reach.

It's like Moby Dick himself, it's a tease for most of the 2 parts, yet I've watched this now a few times over, each time trying to catch something that I'm missing, perhaps the real story is just another few scenes away, or maybe I missed something when I got up for a drink of water?

It reminds me a little of a Christopher Nolan film, it's pretty, full of hammy actors and I always feel like there must be another explanation that got cut or edited.

"Go deeper" indeed.
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6/10
linguistically soft on history
echarlesgoodall27 April 2012
The story treatment, production, and acting are all very good. The casting is excellent. The dialogue moves well among the characters.

The long fiction takes a while to spin out when reading, and the writers have managed to retain the story in an efficient format. The historical background lays easily under the plot and dialogue and in short long shots. The character development and setup are worth the wait for the ocean drama.

doubt though that we would find, in the novel or in the time period, statements like "I didn't sign on for this?" and "Are you OK?". OK for example is a modern word that came about in the middle of the last century, not a hundred years before. Nevertheless, the modern attributes to add to the flow and so I don't object.
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Thank you for helping carry Melville ever forward
Steve-on-LI5 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Let me start by quoting Mad Magazine: Call me Fishmeal.

As a confirmed middlebrow and devoted Melvillephile, I wish to thank everyone involved in this production for a great, worthy and exciting iteration. A welcome addition to the pantheon. Visually enthralling...and good score.

I cant claim to deeply understand Melville -- but i can claim to love him and his work -- in my way. i have been to Arrowhead in Pittsfield MA 2x. I have read a lot of his writing. I love Billy Budd, novella and movie.

And I was delighted to just watch my 3rd or 4th version of the majestic and elusive Moby Dick, which i have read 1.5 times and audio-listened once.

So.....review?

Well because I try not to be doctrinaire, I was fine to "suck up" the sometimes bold liberties taken by the screenwriter, i think mainly in the first hour or so.

i got the chills when the camera first panned on the Nantucket dock. i enjoyed revisiting father mapple's ship-as-church. i loved Elijah, Queequeg, Stubb, Steelkilt, and others. Ahab and Ishmael were very good. Mrs Ahab was good, and Starbuck got better when things started to get really dicey

i'm sorry but Ahab sometimes looks like a HS cheerleader revving up the team and the fans. i would have rather spent 90 seconds looking at puzzled faces of the crew as Ahab went more and more bonkers, than hear lots of the crew's pep-rally-like, anti-moby dick chanting.

I thought of the koolaid distributed by Jim Jones in 1978 at suicidal Jonestown -- when I saw Ahab pass the drinks on the equally suicidal Pequod.

i thought of Billy Budd (Melville), and the idea of the follower willing to die for the leader

I thought of billy (and Terrence Stamp) proclaiming 'god bless capain vere'

I thought of Benito Cereno...and the amazing steps sometimes taken by the enslaved - in pathetic contrast to the steps not taken by members of the fatally cowed crew of the Pequod -- enabled by a pathetic and self-loathing Starbuck

I thought of Jack and Rose when Starbuck last spoke w Pip

--

It has many great visual effects, including moby's jaw-dropping rise from the sea at the end of Part 1, and the shattering moment in Part 2 when the great white whale wreaks its own revenge on one of the lowered boats of Ahab's Pequod. The look on the faces of the other crew members says it all

I remain a middlebrow, but I do know enough to say that Herman Melville has much to teach us about leadership, sacrifice, power, subservience, rebellion, intercultural relations...

And in Moby Dick, we also have a story about humans' unwinnable efforts to conquer nature -- about the emergence of industrial capitalism in the mid 19th c. US --

in any case, as i dip again and again into Melville and Moby Dick, my attention draws more and more.......

....toward the relationship between the crew and ahab (without minimizing other deep and essential plot elements)

melville says: watch this crew get misled to its own death, dear reader - and don't let this happen to you

to all involved in this production, i would again say thank you for helping your viewers lock arms with Herman Melville in the never-ending quest for mutual understanding
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9/10
Great 2nd half, never saw the 1st
ppachura9 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
OK, I saw this on cable and only recorded the 2nd half. Considering the other reviewers' bashing of the 1st half, I should be thankful. I really liked Hurt's performance. I had a feeling that Ahab was vulnerable. Maybe that is not historically accurate, because ship's captains are often portrayed as being in absolute control. However, if you are leading your crew to certain doom and neglecting the easy money, then you are likely to have an insurrection. The CGI was fine, no complaints. Its just hard to capture the enormity of the whale, and how terrifying it must be in a small boat with an unpredictable giant toying with you. Its a giant you can only catch a glimpse of in real life, so how do you portray that on a screen ? I just with the there had been a slower ending. After that powerful conclusion, it should have drawn out the scene of Ishmael floating in a vast empty sea to let the audience digest the powerful and terrible tragedy that has just occurred. The sad singing at the end could have really set the tone, but instead they just rolled the credits. If only I could re-edit this film, this could be the one that is required viewing for all English students after reading the book.
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2/10
Like a high school play
lovethesun26 April 2019
Well, for starters, it was a real stretch to understand what anyone was saying. This went on way too long. It could have been a one hour movie. What a shame and frankly, a sham for such a wonderful novel. Skip it is my best recommendation.
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9/10
Call me what you want!
m_winship30 March 2019
Call me Murf, no scratch that, call me Ishmael ! This version of Money Dick, and save your penis jokes for later, is quite good! I'd remembered at Newman we pulled apart all the characters and analyzed them to death! Ishmael in the bible, meant every man was for him, and every man was against him. Sounds like you and me! I think the reason most people enjoyed this awesome book was they could relate to all the characters plight and sorrows and hopes! You'll be pleased to know Ethan Hawke does a spectacular job at acting as the main protagonist ! Have fun with this three part movie, and as always, read the tome too! Pax, Murf
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7/10
Not bad, but the wrong Ahab
nephihaha31 December 2015
The best thing about this adaptation is the cast, featuring decent actors in even fairly minor roles, e.g. Gillian Anderson who plays the captain's wife, and Donald Sutherland who plays the preacher. Eddie Marsan, an extremely underrated actor, is probably the star turn here, playing a very thuggish Stubb. Starbuck (Ethan Hawke) and Queequeg (Trujillo) are also well portrayed.

However, the film falls down on the two main (human) characters Ishmael (Cox) and Ahab (Hurt). Cox isn't bad, but he's also not that good either. William Hurt, though is miscast. He mumbles through a lot of the performance, and does not look fanatical enough. Sometimes when he's delivering angry speeches, he comes over as a kind uncle. Shame really, since Hurt has turned in decent performances elsewhere.

Both Nantucket and the Pequod are recreated well. The CGI is respectable, showing that a decent amount of money was spent on the production. However, cynics will notice that with the exception of a single storm scene, the ship seems to sail on ridiculously calm seas.

Moby Dick doesn't transfer to the screen well, as many of the book's fans constantly remind us. This adaptation is one of the better ones. This version is probably not as good as the Peck film, but I think it's better than the Patrick Stewart miniseries. (Stewart - again a good actor, was miscast as Ahab). As for the liberties taken with the storyline - I think these have been exaggerated - the inclusion of Ahab's wife is a major change, but not as intrusive as you might think.
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7/10
Well worth watching!
mbristow-260-7479321 July 2012
(7.5/10) My husband and I picked it up at our local rental place and we were surprised at how well it was done. Really strong performances from William Hurt and Ethan Hawke as Ahab and Starbuck, and the rest of the roles were well-cast, too. The filmmakers managed to capture a lot of the symbolism and themes of Melville's novel, and if you think about what was happening in Melville's time (civil war was brewing, American society seemed to be disintegrating), the mini-series makes it clear that the story was about much more than a Nantucket whaling expedition. Melville was issuing a warning to his fellow Americans that still has resonance today. We're Canadian, so it was fun to see that much of the movie was filmed in Nova Scotia. The whale special effects were a little weak at times, but otherwise, well worth watching.
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1/10
H.Melville 100 - This movie 1
wyowil9 September 2018
One of the greatest books in history and one of the poorest adaptations....ever. Don't bother.
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6/10
herd of whales with cubs
wpirotte19 February 2019
Other reviewers have touched on the quality of the actors and of the adaptation itself. Since I love Hurt and Hawke, my opinion would be a little biased. But, Jeez, Louise, with all of Hollywood's political correctness and environmental awareness, all they had to do was consult with their buds at Greenpeace to know that whale herds are called flocks and whale babies are called chicklings.
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