FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: Last night, I saw “In the Heart of the Sea,” which stars Chris Hemsworth (Thor, Rush), Benjamin Walker (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, The Choice), Tom Holland (The Impossible, Captain America: Civil War), Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins, Inception), Brendan Gleeson (Edge of Tomorrow, Gangs of New York), Ben Wishaw (Skyfall, Cloud Atlas), Frank Dillane (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Fear the Walking Dead [TV series]), Joseph Mawle (The Hallow, The Awakening), and Michelle Fairley (The Others, Game of Thrones [TV series]). It is directed by Ron Howard (How the Grinch Stole Christmas , A Beautiful Mind) and the screenplay is written by Charles Leavitt (Blood Diamond, Seventh Son), who also wrote the story with Rick Jaffa (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Jurassic World) and Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Jurassic World). Based on the book by Nathaniel Philbrick, this movie tells the story of how the crew of a whaling ship known as the Essex encountered a monstrous whale in 1820. Their hunt for the whale as well as the aftermath of their meeting is shown, as we see what limits this crew will push to in order survive.
In watching the trailer for this release last year, I was excited and anticipating something good. From the respectable cast to the visually stunning effects, this film looked to be a gem of cinematography. No, I didn’t watch it in theaters, but I have seen it now, and what I can say is…it’s good. When I say “good,” I essentially mean that it did well, but didn’t blow me away, and that’s the best summarization of this movie. I’ve heard of “Moby Dick.” I know how it goes even though I haven’t read it, but I was still interested in seeing how it would play out on film. This is a different take on it, however, as instead of it being about Captain Ahab and Ishmael, it is about Captain Pollard (Walker) and Owen Chase (Hemsworth). Two hours is how long it is, but really the whale itself is barely the subject. The focus point of this whole flick is of Thomas Nickerson (Holland, Gleeson) and how he overcomes his fears and tells the story of how him and his shipmates went through a rigorous, dangerous journey at sea. Surprisingly enough, it worked, and I enjoyed most of this adventure. Most of it. My main pro of “The Heart of the Sea” is its visuals. The colors, tones, and textures Ron Howard chooses makes the picture look like a painting at times, with many dark blues and rugged yellows. Although at times it looked like a special off of the History Channel, the film crew did a fantastic job on the special effects. The whales looked great and the open seas seemed vast. Along with the visuals came some solid acting all around. Some spots were a bit sappy, but overall everyone held up their own. Chris Hemsworth did a very good job in his portrayal, and it was nice to see Tom Holland in a big role, as I have only seen him in “The Impossible,” and have been wanting to get a feel for him since he will be our next Spider-Man. Something I found to be intriguing was how Ron Howard had the actors slim down by eating very few calories a day, just so they could get the look of castaways who haven’t eaten in a long time. Overall, the story that came with this was rather enjoyable. I would consider the first hour to be slow, but once the whale appears, things begin to pick up pace. My big concern with all of this, however, was the fact that the character development was bare. Of course, I said the acting was good, but the characters themselves could be rather weak most of the time. Take Chris Hemsworth’s character of Owen for instance. I understood his problem, but I could barely relate to the guy and move along the plot with him. There was little meat on these characters, both metaphorically and, at one point, physically. What had these figures going was their issue of the whale, all except for Thomas. Thomas was the exception because his older self offered us a glimpse into his broken soul, and how this event has caused him grief all of his life until the interview. It was a real bummer too, because I was hoping to feel for these characters, but I honestly felt very little for them in their predicament. Yeah, it is gross and harsh to see what they go through, but I don’t get to know them well enough to care. That, and the fact that this story isn’t focused on the whale itself, leaves quite a few dull moments to sit through. In the end, there are some really good things to admire about this film. Ron Howard did a great job directing and it was a nice movie to watch, but there were also bad aspects of this, including the lack of characterization. Like I said at the beginning, this was good, but nothing to go crazy over. FINAL SCORE: 79%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: