Starring Sebastian Koch, Neve Campbell & Tim Roth
Directed by Mike Barker
The seas, much like the TV airwaves in the 200 + channel universe that the couch dwellers of the city of Toronto exist in can often be a fast moving and cruel place, because a lot of quality television events can move by at a speed so blinding that most of us would miss it all together. Thankfully with the advent of DVD & Blu-Ray that is no longer the case and we can miss those television events that may have passed us by. Out today from our friends at eOne Films is one of those events; a two mini-series event based on one of the works of novelist Jack London. Get ready for “Sea Wolf”.
“Sea Wolf” introduces us to Wolf Larsen (Koch) is the tyrannical Captain of the notorious seal hunting vessel, the Sea Wolf. While on the high seas, he takes on castaway Humphrey Van Wyden (Stephen Campbell Moore). But instead of abandoning him at the next harbor, Wolf puts the mild mannered literary critic to work and rules over him with an unyielding iron fist. Much to Wolf’s surprise, the graft transforms Van Wyden into a hardened adversary; every bit as formidable as Wolf himself. It’s not until the appearance of Wolf brother, Death (Roth), and Maud (Campbell), the daughter of a rival ship owner that the dynamic truly explodes into life, leaving three men to war over love, duty, life and death.
As a competent working director; Mike Barker has put together an impressive resume of work over the years and this Canadian/German co-production works as solid entertainment. Using as little effects shots as possible this mini-series was shot almost entirely on the open ocean, cramming cast and crew into the bowels of a 100 + year old sailing vessel. The common themes of good vs. evil, love and self-discover to rise to a challenge that are common in Jack London’s work are all here and laid out well enough, but on a personal level I’ve never been a big fan of any of London’s novels or subsequent film adaptations. Everything looked great and the viewer will never feel like the story is dragging at any time, but it just didn’t work for yours truly.
The ensemble cast was quite solid, in particular German actor Sebastian Koch as the notorious Wolf Larsen who jumped head first into the character as he filled the screen with menace and bravado. Stephen Campbell Moore has been ‘that guy’ in a number of UK film and television productions and comes through quite well as the castaway man of privilege who turns into a salty man of character and honor under the tutelage and torture of the vicious Wolf Larsen. Neve Campbell doesn’t have a lot to do as the only woman and defacto love interest in the story, but she plays a fiery independent woman as well as the next person and Tim Roth as ‘Death’ Larson dipped into his bag of tricks to be an effective all be it not terribly memorable villain. Nobody delivered any bad work here, but there’s nothing anyone will be talking about around the water cooler the next day.
Sound and picture quality on the Blu-Ray were first rate, and the special features include a brief featurette with ‘An Inside Look at Sea Wolf’ and some B roll footage on the ocean.
With all honestly, one cannot say that there was anything particularly bad about this adaptation of “Sea Wolf” and might be worth a look for Jack London fans or anyone with an upcoming book report, but there isn’t anything here all that memorable either, resulting in solid but forgettable entertainment.
3 out of 5 stars.
“Sea Wolf” is available on DVD & Blu-Ray at video stores across Toronto; click here for a list of some of the finer stores near you.
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