In the Heart of the SeaCultureCinemaMovie reviews
Ron Howard’s new epic tells the true story of the whaleship Essex and the events that inspired one of the greatest American novels ever written, Moby Dick. But this is no Moby Dick. Just your run-of-the-mill perilous sea voyage fraught with many troubles, as perhaps the movie itself is.
There’s a lot that’s right with In the Heart of the Sea. As we join the crew aboard the Essex, knowing that only death, destruction and a monstrous whale lie in wait for them, the tension is built beautifully with disaster after disaster. The movie never quite reaches edge-of-seat momentum, but there is a lot of engrossing action squeezed out in constant short bursts.
Aside from a few regrettable CGI backgrounds, the movie looks great. The Essex is a gorgeous ship, the whales look good and whoever provided make-up and costumes certainly deserves to be commended (with the Oscars coming up, perhaps they will be).
The casting is almost perfect too. Ben Whishaw and Brendon Gleeson couldn’t be better as Herman Melville and old Tom Nickelson discussing the tragedy of the Essex 30 years later. Rising star Tom Holland does not fail to impress in his role as young Tom Nickelson, Cillian Murphy is as strong as ever and Benjamin Walker makes a great Captain George Pollard.
But then comes the issue of Chris Hemsworth in the lead role, First Mate Owen Chase, and it is an issue. Perhaps shoehorned in as a way to attract more viewers, or there due to previous success with Ron Howard on Rush, Hemsworth really doesn’t seem right for the part. Furthermore, his supposed Nantucket accent is a little all over the place throughout.
The trickiest challenge to navigate with In the Heart of the Sea is the pacing problem. The movie, eager to get on with events more exciting than months of uneventful seafaring, skips forward with little indication of how much time has passed. One moment they are setting sail from Nantucket, and in the very next scene, which feels like minutes later, they are suddenly two days behind schedule.
If you can get past these kinds of little hiccups then In the Heart of the Sea is a solid and enjoyable movie, full of some pretty epic action and an all-star cast. But planning the release just in time for awards season may have been a little optimistic.
In the Heart of the Sea is released nationwide on 26th December 2015.
Watch the trailer for In the Heart of the Sea here: