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Moby Dick Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: VC-1
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH
  • Region: A (B? C?)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: Vivendi Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: October 4, 2011
  • List Price: $29.95

[amazon-product align=”right”]B005BYBZHM[/amazon-product]

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Moby Dick - Widescreen AC3 Dolby

Purchase Moby Dick on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3/5]
The Series
[Rating:3.5/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]

Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]

Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Series

[Rating:3.5/5]

Moby Dick doesn’t quite lend itself well to visualization; Melville’s staggering epic is so multi-layered with symbolism, information on Nineteenth Century whaling, class distinctions and religion, that it is nearly impossible to place all of that into a “photoplay,” if you will. The first to get lost is usually the fascinating narrative as told by the inexperienced Ishmael firsthand. Usually, the subtleties of Moby Dick are sacrificed in favor of a more action-filled adventure on the high seas. This two-part miniseries from cable network Encore is no exception there, although it does try its best to present the story as thoroughly as possible, the sacrifices are inevitable. In fact, when Ishmael’s narration is used here, it is so infrequent as to seem out of place. Nevertheless, this Moby Dick was much better than I expected going into it given the budgetary constraints. The special effects are far more believable than one would have expected – I’ve seen much worse on some of SyFy’s awful creature feature of the week original film’s – and, combined with an A-List cast that includes William Hurt as Captain Ahab, Ethan Hawke (Daybreakers) as Starbuck, Donald Sutherland as Father Maple, and Gillian Anderson (TV’s The X-Files) as Ahab’s wife Elizabeth, Moby Dick is more than a noble effort.

The setting is the mid-nineteenth century New England, in a time before fossil fuels drove the nation. Whaling was a major industry in order to acquire the whale oil necessary to use as fuel. A young wandering sailor Ishmael (Charlie Cox) decides he wants to make a whaling ship his next adventure, and he signs up on the Pequod sailing out of Nantucket along with a rag-tag crew of hardened sailors on a seemingly typical voyage to catch a whale and obtain some whale oil. Little do Ishmael or the rest of the crew know that the Pequod’s stern captain, Ahab (William Hurt) will lead them on a journey of revenge to capture a single whale – the white sperm whale known as Moby Dick – that had destroyed his ship and bitten off his leg some years before. It is a descent into madness and obsession that will lead them all into the depths of hell and towards their doom.

The miniseries is dominated by Hurt’s portrayal of Ahab, he’s gruff and overly characteristic of a nineteenth century seaman, in other words, more like a caricature than a believable. He lacks a certain gravitas that, say, Gregory Peck, had, despite what Peck himself might have thought of his performance as Ahab. I never get the sense from Hurt that he’s really as domineering as he should be. Hawke, on the other hand, feels just about right as the conflicted first mate Starbuck, whereas Cox’s Ismael is just drifting through this interpretation with everything out of his control and not much insight provided by his narrative.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Moby Dick arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p/24 VC-1 transfer from Vivendi Entertainment. It has a lot of detail and nuanced shadow information in its lavishly designed set. Blacks sometimes crush just a tad, but it doesn’t harm the overall presentation, which shows good contrast, nice color reproduction, and natural flesh tones.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

The sole option here is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that is surprisingly robust for a television mini-series mix. Sounds of the white whale rumbling through the ocean or smashing into the Pequod are downright thunderous while the surround channels have good amounts of atmospheric effects. There are also the occasional discrete pans from back to front and so on that really keep things lively. Dialogue is full and clean as well.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:0/5]

They’ve offered no supplements on this disc.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3/5]

Encore channel’s Moby Dick is a flawed yet still enjoyable interpretation of Melville’s classic. The visual effects aid in intensifying the drama, turning it into an adventure thriller on the high seas worth watching straight through to the end while the transfer to Blu-ray offers it up on superb high definition platter that makes a strong case for releasing everything on the format.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product align=”right”]B005BYBZHM[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com
Moby Dick - Widescreen AC3 Dolby

Purchase Moby Dick on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3/5]
The Series
[Rating:3.5/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]

Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]

Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0/5]

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