Welcome to a very late movie review! I had no time to review In The Heart Of The Sea before because of the holiday season. Moreover, I have a bunch of other movie-related blog posts to write before the end of the year, so it’s a high time that I’ve gotten back to work! So, without further ado, let’s talk about a better than I have expected movie adaptation of real life events, which inspired Herman Melville to write a very well know book – Moby-Dick.
IMDb summary: A recounting of a New England whaling ship’s sinking by a giant whale in 1820, an experience that later inspired the great novel Moby-Dick.
To begin with, I was led to believe by a variety of critics, reviewers, and general mainstream moviegoers that this film was shit, so I was pleasantly surprised that I have actually enjoyed the film. It definitely was not perfect, but I thought that it was satisfying enough, especially when watched during Christmas – the most magical time of the year, when we tend to forget or just refuse to notice anything bad. Having said that, while I had a good time watching the film, I did spot quite a few flaws, which I will try to inform you about.
The screenplay for the film was written by Charles Leavitt who has previously worked on Seventh Son (which I absolutely hated) and is co-writing the script for 2016’s Warcraft. While I thought that the core of this story was interesting, to my mind, the plot was really messy. The pacing was extremely uneven – the action moments would last a second and then they would be followed by a long and boring exposition or just plain nothingness. The time jumps were also quite wonky. The style of the narration was interesting (the main story told in a flashback), but it didn’t make much sense since the narrator could not have known half the facts of the story he was telling. Lastly, the characters weren’t developed that well – they all had a one-trait kind of a backstory.
I did, however, enjoy the main theme of Man vs. Nature that this movie explored and I am guessing that this theme comes from the book. In The Heart Of The Sea is an adaptation of Nathaniel Philbrick’s book with the same name. I do not plan on reading this particular book, however, I am currently reading Moby-Dick – the supposedly fictional version of the same events. Speaking about the main idea – the film did a good job of portraying humans as worthless and weak things who can’t ever even dream about fully conquering nature. And the last stand-off between the whale and Chris Hemsworth’s character nicely portrayed the fact that some people do understand that. Sadly, the majority of us don’t and by trying to have it all, we usually lose everything.
Directing and Visuals
The movie was directed by Ron Howard of highly praised Apollo 13, The Da Vinci Code + Angels and Demons (Inferno coming in 2016) and Rush. One would expect great directing from a person with such an impressive resume, however, I found a lot of problems with the visual aspects of this movie. Firstly, the film had way too many extreme close ups and close ups which made the motion picture feel very claustrophobic, although, it was set on an ocean. The shaky/handheld camera was also used way too much – it was hard for my eyes to follow the action, especially during the storm sequence. Lastly, while the CGI of the whale was quite nice, it was definitely more artificial than realistic. In addition, we only got glimpses of the whale, which was also disappointing. However, while I don’t really like this kind of cinematography, I can at least think of a reason why a director would choose to use it in this particular situation/story. The narrative of In The Heart Of The Sea is a very depressing story, in which people’s lives are turned upside down and all of their dreams and hopes are crushed – the mobile camera and close up shots help to portray this feeling of chaos, which nicely mimics the story. Still, I can’t forgive the filmmakers for the fake CGI and a lack of whale shots.
- Chris Hemsworth as Owen Chase – his one trait backstory was the fact that he was a son of a ‘landman’.
- Benjamin Walker as Captain George Pollard, Jr. – one know feature: comes from a prestigious family.
- Cillian Murphy as Matthew Joy – might have been an alcoholic.
All of the main actors did a fine job but this was definitely not their best work. While I can appreciate their dedication to the film (they had to undergo quite an extreme physical transformation), I do not think that they brought their A-game – they simply did the best they could with the material.
Speaking of the actors, Hemsworth is struggling to reach box office numbers and a high level of stardom outside Marvel films, although I am excited to see him back in the role of the Huntsman next year. I don’t know anything about Walker, only that he is not a well know actor and has starred in a few movies which flopped. Murphy was the most successful when working with C. Nolan – that’s how I was personally introduced to him as an actor. BTW, Inception is still one of my favorite films of all time. Murphy doesn’t have any big projects coming up and I don’t really know if will be able to check out his smaller films.
- Tom Holland as young Thomas Nickerson – I don’t really remember anything interesting about the character that Holland was playing, thus, I don’t really see why he was chosen to play Spiderman in the MCU. I guess we will know the reason when Civil War comes out.
- Brendan Gleeson as old Thomas Nickerson and Michelle Fairley as Mrs. Nickerson. I liked what Gleeson did as the narrator and I also enjoyed seeing Fairley again – I haven’t seen her since the Red Wedding.
- Ben Whishaw as Herman Melville – I liked seeing Whishaw once again this year, because I really like him as an actor, although, his roles are starting to blend together in my mind the more I see of him. This year, he has starred in Suffragette, Spectre and The Danish Girl which I will only be able to see in January.
All in all, In The Heart of The Sea was a fine film. It had lots of flaws but was a perfectly enjoyable popcorn flick for a holiday season.
Trailer: In The Heart Of The Sea trailer