IN THE HEART OF THE SEA
*** (out of 5)
December 11, 2015
Chris Hemsworth as OWEN CHASE
Benjamin Walker as GEORGE POLLARD
Cillian Murphy as MATTHEW JOY
Brendan Gleeson as TOM NICKERSON
Ben Whishaw as HERMAN MELVILLE
Michelle Fairley as MRS. NICKERSON
Tom Holland as THOMAS NICKERSON
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Ron Howard
BY KEVIN CARR
In the week before “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” blows apart the box office, the lone wide release in the country is Ron Howard’s “In the Heart of the Sea,” which tells the story behind the story of “Moby Dick.”
This is a bit of a gamble to be released in a box office valley as well as in the middle of award season, but the studio’s hopes are pinned on Chris Hemsworth as the star and some thrilling special effects worthy of the big screen in 3D.
“In the Heart of the Sea” frames itself with Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw) interviewing Thomas Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson), the last surviving member of a doomed whaling expedition. The film flashes back to the story of the mission, featuring Hemsworth as the first mate and Tom Holland as a young Nickerson. Their whaling vessel heads into the sea on a year-long voyage to harvest the precious whale oil, but things go south when a massive white sperm whale attacks them and hunts them in the open ocean.
You don’t get many movies like this any more, featuring adventure on the high seas, and the whaling sequences and action scenes are certainly invigorating to watch in full cinematic mode. However, the film stumbles quite a bit with too much downtime during long bouts at sea and an extended sequence in lifeboats.
The whale moments are great, but outside of them, the film uses too much unnecessary CGI to generate everything from skies to docking yards, which takes away a lot of the film’s more real moments.
Still, “In the Heart of the Sea” is an entertaining and somewhat educational look at life in the 1800s with just enough action to keep things interesting.