Directed by Ron Howard
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy & Brendan Gleeson
Film review by Amaliah S. Marmon-Halm
Based on the thrilling and tragic real tale of the Nantucket whaling ship the Essex, In the Heart of the Sea, directed by Ron Howard and based on the original book by Nathaniel Philbrick, follows writer Herman Melville as he tries to hunt down the last remaining survivor and the last person who knows what really happened on that unfortunate voyage.
If you are familiar and well read on the American literary classics, then the name Melville will not be an unfamiliar one, as he was the author of Moby Dick, which was inspired by this story.
Starting in the winter of 1820, first mate Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth), Captain Pollard (Benjamin Walker) and their crew start their mission to harvest whale oil, but what they inevitably face is a harrowing battle for survival when a whale of unbelievable size and strength attacks with force, crippling their ship and leaving them adrift in the ocean. This is when the real story starts to take place, as the crew are pushed to their limits, physically, mentally and morally, whilst facing storms, starvation, panic and despair, the survivors must resort to the unthinkable to stay alive.
Rather than concentrating on the idea of the vengeful whale, this adaptation focuses more on the rivalry of Chase and Pollard – one man who has worked his way to deserving captaincy and one who was just born into the role. Hemsworth and Walker do a very good job of depicting their rollercoaster of a relationship, which does intertwine throughout the whole film in an interesting way. However, sometimes it does just feel a little bit like a lover’s spat the way they carry on.
Another theme that does become more apparent is the one that humans are not as powerful when compared to the might of nature, and this is arguably the weightier theme that will really strike a chord with audiences. Whether it’s a massive whale protecting smaller whales from being captured in the most destructive way possible or a wave big enough to capsize a ship, it’s a harsh reality that each character in this story learns the hard way.
Howard does do a very exciting job of bringing Philbrick’s story to the big screen. Unlike other films that use CGI, the CGI whales look real, majestic and rather realistic to the point that when you see one being struck it does make you flinch. What is unfortunate is that it does take a little while for the story to get going and that might result in the first few acts being a little dull when compared to latter scenes. Overall, In the Heart of the Sea is a great sea thriller that will leave you shocked and wary about what lies beneath the deep.
Watch the movie trailer for In the Heart of the Sea below...