Review: Orca

February 22, 2012

Chalk 1977 up as the year whales gained representation in the sea of creature features. After Jaws made killer whales look like tadpole, director Michael Anderson and writer* Luciano Vincenzoni decided to right this wrong by retelling the Moby Dick story. The end result was Orca, a little cheese-fest about an Irish fisherman and a vengeful whale.

As the story goes… A successful fisherman, Captain Nolan (Richard Harris), decides to try his hand at whaling after a pretty marine biologist (Charlotte Rampling) convinces him that Orca whales are humankind’s equal. Unfortunately, Nolan messed with the wrong Orca; one willing to travel to the end of the Earth, killing everyone in his path, to exact revenge. That about covers it.

In all honesty, Orca really is all over the place. It’s not clear what the filmmakers wanted to make; Is it A) Moby Dick circa 1977? B) A terribly made drama? C) Funded by PETA? D) All of the above? It’s a mess, with characters that lose and gain depth quickly enough to give any innocent viewer The Bends. The filmmakers did not do their jobs well.

The actors weren’t much better! Alongside Richard Harris & Charlotte Rampling, Will Sampson, Bo Derek, and Robert Carradine co-starred. No one even tried to put on a believable performance; everyone involved phoned-in. I know this to be true, because Richard Harris is a good actor, and Orca isn’t representative of his life’s work by any measure.

So, obviously, Orca sucks and you shouldn’t touch it with a 10 foot harpoon, right? Well, not exactly…

If you like bad sea creature movies as I do, there’s almost nothing more you can want from Orca. It’s perfect in its own horrible way, and as of this writing it’s available to watch on Netflix (streaming). Check it out if you so desire!

*Sergio Donati is also credited as a writer.

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