Thursday, September 22, 2016

Film Review: In the Heart of the Sea (2015)

In the Heart of the Sea (Review)
United States/Spain/2015
Format Viewed For Review: HBO Now
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"If you're looking for an adventurous thriller, something different from the same old blockbusters, this is worth watching."

The recounting of a whaling ship's sinking by a giant whale, which inspired the writing of Moby-Dick.

In the Heart of the Sea is an interesting film based on a novel I have not read. The film is a recounting of the sinking of the whaling ship Essex. Former cabin boy Thomas Nickerson (played by Tom Holland for a bulk of the film) reluctantly tells the tale to author Herman Melville. In all actuality, most of the film follows first mate Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth), Captain George Pollard Jr. (Benjamin Walker) and the rest of the crew on their voyage. There's a bit of a rivalry between Chase and Pollard, but it never really feels powerful or slightly significant. Anyway, the Essex is eventually attacked by a whale, which leaves the men fighting for survival – while the whale continues to pursue them. It feels like it runs out of steam towards the end, especially since it blows its load early on, but the ending was decent.

In the Heart of the Sea is a very good movie. Off the bat, there are a few notable shortcomings. For example, the characters are interesting, but there is a lack of depth that is noticeable from the beginning. This goes back to the rivalry between Chase and Pollard – it's clearly supposed to be there, but I just didn't feel it. Some characters, like Nickerson, hardly get a chance to shine, too. I mean, most of NIckerson's dialogue consists of yelling "Mr. Chase" over and over again. Aside from that, there are also some pacing issues. There are times where the film is captivating, then there are those slow moments that make you question if you're still watching the same film.

Still, In the Heart of the Sea is a very good movie. I really enjoyed myself. The film has that grand sense of adventure that I love. It is also very immersive. It really brings you into this fascinating world. Thanks to that immersion, the thrills are amplified tenfold. The encounters with the whales are epic. I say this quite often when I watch action films that break away from the norms, but I have to say it again: it's refreshing to watch an action film that's not about fast cars, superheroes, or robots – or films that feature the destruction of a city during the final act. This was a breath of fresh air and I really appreciated that.

I thought the acting was great. Chris Hemsworth delivers a dedicated performance and so does Benjamin Walker. Cillian Murphy is stellar, though – a round of applause for one of the most under-appreciated actors. In terms of visuals and audio, the film is superb. This is a beautiful movie with a wonderful soundtrack. Again, this really helps in creating its immersive world. The film was written by Charles Leavitt and directed by Ron Howard. The writing could have used some fine-tuning, especially in terms of character. The direction was great, but I feel like something went wrong in the editing. It's not poorly edited per se, but it often felt disjointed and oddly paced. It could have been a smoother ride.

Overall, I enjoyed In the Heart of the Sea. It's an exciting and adventurous film with an immersive world. It has its fair share of flaws, but, in the end, I was pleased with the experience. If you're looking for an adventurous thriller, something different from the same old blockbusters, this is worth watching.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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