In the Heart of the Sea
This week we had the release of In the Heart of the Sea starring Chris Hemsworth (Thor, Blackhat, A Perfect Getaway) and Benjamin Walker (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer, The War Boys, Flags of Our Fathers). Another shimmering example of how movie trailers are strategically designed to make a movie much more epic than it really is. They got me good this time!
In the Heart of the Sea is the story of the ship The Essex and it’s few surviving men and they’re horrific story of the whale that brought them down. It is the true story that helped inspire the famous Novel Moby Dick…however after watching this I think I would have preferred to see the movie Moby Dick instead of its inspiration. We start the story with Herman Melville the author of Moby Dick played by Ben Whishaw (Skyfall, Cloud Atlas, Stoned) as he makes his way to the home of Tom Nickerson; Brendan Gleeson (The Company you Keep, Edge of Tomorrow, Green Zone) who is now the last living survivor of the Essex. Mr. Nickerson, nor any of the other survivors for that matter, has ever told the events that happened while stranded out at sea and with good reason. But Melville is desperate and after a lot of whining and a healthy sum of money Mr. Nickerson agrees to tell him the story. We are then brought into a recap of the day’s leading up to the Essex’s departure with Benjamin playing a rich and spoiled Captain George Pollard and Chris playing the grudging first mate Owen Chase. Tom Holland (How I live Now, The Secret World of Arrietty, The Impossible)plays young Tom Nickerson who was taken in as part of the crew of men meant to go on a whaling expenditure to get that oil that keeps their street lights burning.
The trip does not go well. George and Owen bump heads over who’s in charge and who should be in charge throughout the trip and after nearly a year at sea they’ve barely got much to bring back home. Whilst stopped at an island off the coast of Spain they hear the stories of a whaling spot stock full of hundred’s of Sperm Whale but they are also warned of a ferocious white whale that resides within the group that is more monster than whale. Desperate to get their oil and get home, they brush off the warning and sail further into sea till they find that beautiful whaling ground and with it the legendary white whale! After destroying their ship and taking out more than half of their crew their everyday whale expedition suddenly becomes a life or death situation as they find themselves stranded at sea with a whale that seems to have a very clear understanding of the idea of revenge following very close behind them.
I was so excited for this movie. It looked so great during the trailers and not to say it wasn’t okay cause it was, as a matter of fact, I personally believe that the flop this movie suffered was caused by one thing and one thing alone. Here it is: dialogue. I went into the theater looking forward to a movie about a bunch of sailors from the 1820’s going whale hunting instead what I saw was a bunch of actors pretending to be from the 1820’s going whaling. This didn’t feel authentic, it tried way too hard. Every time anyone spoke I cringed a little because it sounded so….just not how you would expect someone to talk in that time period. The whale was another let down, although terrifying and amazing CGI work we only get to see him a couple of times throughout the 2 hour time frame. Which I guess makes sense seeing as the movie is about the men’s survival of the whales attack. That and their horrible talking. I remember there was a scene where a crew member had died and before they can throw him overboard Owen says, “A man does not waste what could one day save him.” I know it was meant to be dramatic but why say it like that? Near starvation and he wants to talk in riddles? A couple seated beside me whispered to one another asking “What?” “I didn’t get that.” And then the urge to yell bubbled up inside me, “Eat him! They’re going to eat him!” Because why not just say it!?
I don’t know…every time I see Hemsworth all I can think of is ‘Just stick with Thor.’ No other character ever seems to fit him. Maybe it’s just me. Whatever.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and peril, brief startling violence and thematic material.
Rotten Tomatoes has this movie at a 43% rotten. Too bad.
The story does give a sense of inspiration, to continue on even when things are at their darkest, and I enjoyed the unwavering bond that formed between Owen and the young Tom Nickerson. Unfortunately the move is not one that I would urge you to see. There are some great holiday films are out there, but this is not one of them.