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When 'Jaws' Meets 'Cast Away'

'In the Heart of the Sea' Movie Review

By Little Blue RucksackPublished 6 years ago 3 min read

Ron Howard’s movie In the Heart of the Sea, depicts a chain of catastrophic events from 1820 that inspired the tale of Moby-Dick. Essentially, it is a story about a story, which only makes me wonder: Have Hollywood filmmakers truly exhausted all the great tales, and now have to contend with secondary resources in order to come up with new ideas?

Nevertheless, In the Heart of the Sea is cleverly packaged, features great CGI effects, and is quite gloomy and grim – a film that isn’t a good fit for the faint-hearted or those looking for an uplifting tale for the holiday season.

Howard has teamed up with screenwriter Charles Leavitt who adapted the screenplay from a book by Nathaniel Philbrick. The book tells a story about the last voyage of the Essex, a whaling ship from New England that was attacked by an enormous whale, killing the majority of the crew and destroying the ship. This tale then served Herman Melville to write his famous novel later in 1851.

The film follows two different storylines, the first one being young Melville (Ben Whishaw) meeting Thomas Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson), one of the few remaining survivors, for an interview about the tragic events that had occurred years before. The second storyline is a retrospective narrative of how Nickerson, alongside few other brave men, managed to survive the whale attack.

The Essex ship took off in 1820 under the command of an inexperienced George Pollard (Benjamin Walker), with a mission to fill 2,000 barrels of whale oil. However, shortly after the departure, the commander clashes with a much more qualified first officer on the ship, Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth). The commander comes from a renowned family and has been placed in the leader seat thanks to his wealthy father, not his sailing skills. He immediately puts the whole ship in unnecessary danger, leading it into poor weather conditions, which doesn’t sit well with the crew.

The first action scene where they encounter a whale is gripping, intense, and seems remarkably lifelike. After that, Pollard decides to sail to waters that are supposedly filled with whales, which proves to be the beginning of the catastrophe. Out of nowhere, a giant whale with an almost human-like drive for vengeance appears, and the animal is set on wrecking the ship.

The film then becomes a grander version of Jaws, with the whale dishing out karma for these poor sailors; a relentless monster that just doesn’t want to let them go and is as vindictive as a woman that’s been cheated on. For the whale, destroying the ship just isn’t enough – he continues to chase the sailors even as they are on their lifeboats, desperately trying to hold onto their dear lives.

Ron Howard most definitely didn’t hold back and has paid great attention to detail – some of them are quite stirring and at times hard to look at, but the scenes look epic and the way that it has been shot is breathtaking.

As for the cast, they give solid performances, although characters don’t have as much depth to them as they would perhaps need. Chris Hemsworth channels his inner Thor, but in this context, at times he seems a little too heroic and righteous; still, he is likeable and relatable. Brendan Gleeson is as superb and manages to lift the quality of the dialogues with his presence and performance, and Game of Thrones fans will be pleased to see some familiar faces.

There is nothing about In The Heart of the Sea that can necessarily be described as “bad”, but somehow, it fails to leave the impression of being remarkable. It’s a solid film that keeps you engaged and focused on what is happening on the big screen, even though it might not be a film you will want to re-watch over and over again. It will be enjoyable for those who like intensity, action, heroism and aren’t squeamish, even though the film is not impeccable.


About the Creator

Little Blue Rucksack

An self proclaimed cinephile bitten by the travel bug. Head honcho and creative director at an art studio. Lover of hashtags and all things pop culture.

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