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In the Heart of the Sea

Coming Soon

Moby Dick is a very popular novel written by American novelist Herman Melville. The story of the obsessed captain, Ahab, hunting down a giant whale known as Moby Dick is a tale many of us have heard in one form or another. What is lesser known is the fact that the story of this fierce whale and those unfortunate souls in its path was inspired by true events. Had my literature teacher made that clear to me in my school days I might have been more inclined to pay attention. Director Ron Howard is bringing this story to life in this epic tale of man versus beast versus nature. In the Heart of the Sea appears to have all of the elements required to make a splash at the box office. Let’s dive in further to see just how worthy it is for your hard earned money.
Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth) is a successful whaler with many victories under his belt. He’s now looking to move into the role of captain since he has more than paid his dues. Unfortunately the company he works for has other ideas. Rather than promote Chase to his rightful position of captain, they relegate him to that of First Mate on the whaling ship Essex out of Nantucket. His experience is required to offset that of the “greener” new captain who was basically born into this position rather than earning it. Captain George Pollard (Benjamin Walker) is eager to show he belongs in this position of power but he could not possibly know what is to follow.
In the Heart of the Sea is not the action packed thrill ride that some are hoping for. Instead it is more of an all-encompassing dissertation of what a group of men went through as they found themselves on the brink of death in a seemingly impossible situation. When confronted by the impossible, one must do the unthinkable to survive. Ron Howard touches on several unpleasant challenges that these men face while being cut off from civilization for such an extended period of time. There are moments that will definitely test the morality of man on display here. Unexpectedly, In the Heart of the Sea is less about this massive sea creature and more about how these men handle the immense adversities that they are faced with. On that front, the actors are very much front and center when it comes to believable performances.
Chris Hemsworth goes all out in his portrayal of Owen Chase. The physical changes that he endures are astounding and mirror those of what I imagine went through in his grueling journey. His acting was never in doubt but the physical transformation shows true dedication to detail on his part. Benjamin Walker has been a virtual ghost since his lead role in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter but that doesn’t stop him from turning in a solid performance. Brendan Gleeson really sells his part as the older version of Tom Nickerson, the last living survivor of the Essex incident. The pain in this man’s eyes and in the words he speaks as he recounts the events of what truly happened on that fateful journey to Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw) gives In the Heart of the Sea that grounded reflective realism that is much needed.
The cinematography is well above average as it attempts to capture the massive scale on which In the Heart of the Sea plays out. Having such a large nemesis to deal with in the form of a larger-than-life white whale (hey I just figured out where the saying “chasing the white whale” originated) couldn’t have been easy. The landscapes are breathtaking as the beauty as well as the ugliness of nature is put on display for all to see. The 3D effects, however, are not nearly as impressive and can be easily skipped. If the option to see it on one of the larger format screens (IMAX, The Epic Experience, E3) presents itself, you’d be wise to at least consider it.
So the question becomes is In the Heart of the Sea worth dropping money on? The answer to that question is, yes it is. Having said that it does have some shortcomings such as the slow moving fish swimming upstream pace. Knowing going in that this ISN’T a movie about man versus whale but more about man versus many obstacles “and hey there’s also a whale”, will make for a much better experience. I still feel that it could have been better, especially considering that Ron Howard is the man behind the project. It’s in theaters right now if you’re looking to get your feet wet.

In the Heart of the Sea is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: Carl Wheeler

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