Movie Review: In the Heart of the Sea (2015)

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Brendan Gleeson and Cillian Murphy

Directed by: Ron Howard

A recount and dramatisation of the events that inspired Herman Melville’s classic novel Moby Dick where a whaling ship is sank by a giant white whale in 1820.

The story of Moby Dick was a story that I fell in love with as a child but as I grew up I left my love for the classic story behind. A few years ago In the Heart of the Sea was released and at the time I got genuinely excited to see it but never managed to catch it in the cinema and by the time it came out on DVD I forgot all about it. Scrolling through Netflix over the weekend I stumbled across the movie again and was eager to watch it this week on my commute to work and that’s exactly what I managed to do today.

I enjoy epic tales on the ocean, there’s a certain romantic feel to life on the sea where the captain and crew will go out on a voyage regardless of the dangers that may lie ahead. The comradeship and desire to get that big score from the waters is somewhat admirable as it’s not a job that’s easy nor for everybody. The love of the voyage strongly appears within lead character Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth) who is first mate aboard the Essex of Nantucket and despite having a baby due he’s keen to be a part of the next whaling vessel that leaves port under the watch of Captain George Pollard (Benjamin Walker). They venture around the tip of South America and head to the Pacific Ocean after hearing of masses of whales a thousand miles out to sea. That’s where the whalers dream of whale rich waters turns into a genuine nightmare when they come across a giant white whale that destroys their ship and leaves the captain and his crew stranded at sea. It’s the legendary story that the novel Moby Dick is based on as it’s told through the eyes of one of the crewmen, Tom Nickerson.

Visually In the Heart of the Sea is stunning and is a real treat to watch as the movie really utilises its surroundings very well. The action sequences when the guys come across the giant whale are wonderfully shot and the CGI whale looked impressively imposing. The acting for the most part was solid across the board especially when the crew were stranded for 80+ days and beginning to feel the effects of starvation and dehydration. Tom Holland puts in a great performance as a young Tom Nickerson as he struggles to survive and Brendan Gleeson who plays the older reminiscing Nickerson plays his part with deep emotion that really highlighted how close to death he and the remaining survivors came.

One of the more disappointing aspects of the movie came in the way of a severe lack of action and a lack of presence from the legendary whale that the story is about. It took over an hour until we got our first sight of the magnificent creature and once we catch a glimpse it doesn’t take long until the scene is over and then there’s another lengthy wait for its return. During the middle of the movie the plot kind of dawdled slightly and strayed a little from what was important and focused too highly on Owen Chase and not the whale.

Overall, In the Heart of the Sea was a good movie that was able to do the legend of Moby Dick justice. While there were faults and areas that could’ve been improved I think it was a decent movie that visually was great and had a solid ensemble performance.


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