In The Heart Of The Sea Film Review

Film Review by Clayton Barnett

The Premise
In the winter of 1820, the New England whaling ship Essex was assaulted by something no one could believe: a whale of mammoth size and will, and an almost human sense of vengeance. The real-life maritime disaster would inspire Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. But that told only half the story. "In the Heart of the Sea" reveals the encounter's harrowing aftermath, as the ship's surviving crew is pushed to their limits and forced to do the unthinkable to stay alive. Braving storms, starvation, panic and despair, the men will call into question their deepest beliefs, from the value of their lives to the morality of their trade, as their captain searches for direction on the open sea and his first mate still seeks to bring the great whale down.

The Review
Ron Howard directs an epic man-against-nature that harpoons your heart levels as Thor himself takes on the big white whale. Based on the non-fiction book of the same name (with some Hollywood liberties of course), the film boasts a pretty impressive cast of Brits, and one Aussie, trying to nail Boston accents. Benjamin Walker is the only Yank aboard but he’s wooden as the boat and is outclassed by the likes of Brendan Gleeson, Ben Whishaw and Cillian Murphy. Chris Hemsworth is all action hunk here, taking names and taking charge at every turn, though sadly for the ladies he surprisingly never takes his shirt off (considering all the weight-loss stories for this role).

And that’s one of my bugbears for this movie, not Thor taking his shirt off but the fact we’re bludgeoned over the head with who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy. Even though it’s been released for Oscar season screenwriter Charles Leavitt (also responsible for this year’s Seventh Son) won’t be getting any gongs for his by the numbers script.

But we’re not here for chit-chat, we’re here for a whale hunt and boy is In the Heart of the Sea heart in your mouth stuff. After the brilliant Rush, Ron Howard is on a roll with getting you right in the thick of it, this time with crazy extreme close ups like he’s gone and attached a Go-Pro to the bloody whale. He’s got Rush cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle back on board and being Danny Boyle’s regular DOP Anthony has a superb eye for kinetic action. He’s already got an Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire but he should pick up a nomination for this too. And expect noms for production and costume design as the film looks just fantastic.

After a rip-roaring first half, the second half does get stuck in the doldrums a bit, and it ventures into some uncomfortable territory for some. Plus for a movie that inspired Moby Dick there just isn’t enough whale in this tale after such a big Jaws-like set up.

The Verdict
While the script might drag this down into the doldrums, In the Heart of the Sea puts your heart in your mouth with stunningly shot action sequences. While more of a survival story than man versus whale, it’s a spectacle to be seen on the big screen.

The Trailer

The Info
Releases: 3rd December 2015
Rating: M
Duration: 122 minutes 
Genre:  Action
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy & Brendan Gleeson
Director: Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13)

The Extras
Based on the true story of the Essex, a whaling ship that was attacked and sunk by a sperm whale in the southern Pacific Ocean in 1820. The incident inspired Herman Melville's "Moby Dick".

According to Chris Hemsworth, to prepare for the role of starving sailors, the cast were on a diet of 500-600 calories a day to lose weight.

T
his is the sixth film directed by Ron Howard based on a true story. The others were "Apollo 13", "A Beautiful Mind", "Cinderella Man", "Frost/Nixon" and "Rush".

Part of this movie was shot in the Canary Islands. Moby Dick, directed by John Huston, was also shot in the Canaries

The movie was originally scheduled for release in March 2015. It was moved to a December 2015 release as an Oscar contender under the title "Mean Whale".

Reunites cast members Cillian Murphy, Paul Anderson and Charlotte Riley, who all appeared in 'Peaky Blinders' (2013).


Herman Melville never actually sailed aboard the Essex. He did however sail on a whaling ship called the Acushnet.