Sea Wolf, The (UK - DVD R2)
Our Marcus falls overboard only to be saved by a nasty sea captain. BLAST!
This two part TV series based on the Jack London novel tells the story of upper class writer and man overboard Humphrey Van Weyden (Stephen Campbell Moore ) as he comes under the iron rule of Captain Wolf Larson (Sebastian Koch) aboard his sailing ship the Ghost.
Rather than doing anything all that exceptional, the makers of Sea Wolf have instead opted to deliver the sort of sea-faring detail that anyone with a love of the ocean eats for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Spread over the two parts, there’s plenty of time given to the crew's chores and tasks and with all that room to breathe we get a good insight into the rag-tag band of sailors in all their clichéd glory.
Arguably, this has all been seen before with the dirty cook, the brooding crew member that disagrees with the captain and the less than savoury dislike of any strangers on board, but all of these elements and even more sea based typicalities are handled with a real sense of celebration for the genre and really the miniseries is giving the audience what they want.
Personally I found myself enjoying the whole adventure more than I thought I might without going ga-ga over it. I really liked a lot of the performances, especially from the take-no-shit Captain Larson played expertly by Sebastian Koch, who really made this character compelling and just plain scary to be around. Tim Roth delivered a strong approach to his character but I still felt that he could have done more with it, and the growth of the lead character Van Weyden was a good (if not extremely obvious) through line that kept the elements of the plot bouncing off of one another well.
Sea Wolf is made for TV but just about reaches beyond the restraints of the small screen. There are a few obvious effect shots but generally the scale of the story is captured well and the show looks all the better for it. That said, this ain’t no Caribbean cruise and the bare open sea setting is pretty grey and cloudy. Because of this nothing really shows off in the visuals and while generally the image is sharp the wider shots can look pretty damn soft.
Night scenes hold up pretty well with the details not getting lost in the murk. Interior cabin scenes are well lit and are probably the best looking elements of the show and really Sea Wolf looks exactly a show you’d watch on a Sunday afternoon with all its greyness selling the story's mood.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track was actually surprisingly good in some areas. Score and dialogue levels wavered here and there but the atmospherics of sea life really shine. Creaks of wood, stretching of ropes and just general bustle around the deck really came to life in the rear speakers and more than once I found myself thinking someone was knocking on my front door only to discover it was some cabin boy moving something or other about.
Power wise the track is a bit weak and could have done with a little more oomph to sell storms or emotional themes in the score, and really it was these elements that kept reminding me that this was a TV show and not a big budget sea faring movie.
The only extra served up here is the trailer (01:33).
I liked Sea Wolf despite never thinking I would but I was the same with Master & Commander, so hey, maybe deep down I like sailing ship movies or something. Sea Wolf has all the classic elements you’d expect and done well with some genuinely impressive performances from many of its lead actors, so really there was a lot to enjoy over the well-paced three hour run time.
The disc is pretty average video wise with a slightly above average atmospheric audio track. However, features are all but non-existent so this one might be worth a rental to all you sea adventure enthusiasts out there.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 4th March 2011
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital 2.0
Easter Egg: No
Cast: Sebastian Koch,, Tim Roth, Neve Campbell
Genre: Adventure and Drama
Length: 178 minutes
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