By Nico Beland
Movie Review: B (3 stars)
WARNER BROS. PICTURES
From director, Ron Howard (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, Rush) comes his latest thought-provoking film for his career, In the Heart of the Sea, based on Nathaniel Philbrick’s 2000 non-fiction book of the same name, about the sinking of the American whaling ship Essex in 1820 that inspired the story of Moby-Dick and the Great White Whale. When I first heard Howard was directing a movie about Moby-Dick, I got excited, this is a perfect director choice for this type of story, after several critically acclaimed films with powerful storytelling and strong character development, and the Moby-Dick story itself is powerful and has well-developed characters and even if you’ve never read the actual story, you probably know about it, whether in film or television, not to mention the trailers for the movie looked very promising.
So after seeing the film, it’s a pretty solid take on the true story that inspired Moby-Dick, Ron Howard’s direction shines through, with a talented and engaging cast, and it’s massive and monumentally epic, even if I wouldn’t exactly consider it one of Ron Howard’s best movies, but it’s certainly not another flop by him (Ahem, The Dilemma!). I really appreciate that the film isn’t another direct adaptation of the Moby-Dick story, but rather a dramatization of the events that lead up to the creation of the story, it’s no rehash and it’s different and new in a very good way.
Our story begins in 1820 with the whaling ship, Essex, crewed by Captain George Pollard Jr. (Benjamin Walker-Kinsey, Flags Of Our Fathers, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), first officer, Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth-Thor, The Avengers, Rush), second officer, Matthew Joy (Cillian Murphy-The Dark Knight trilogy, Red Eye, Inception), and cabin boy, Thomas Nickerson (Tom Holland-Arrietty (UK dub), The Impossible, Locke). During the voyage at sea, the ship gets rammed and split in half by an enormous and enraged bull sperm whale, which results in them being shipwrecked at sea for 90 days and more than a thousand miles away from land.
After the whale attack, the crew sales for South America and in time, they are forced to resort to cannibalism in order to survive.
Overall, In the Heart of the Sea is a solid addition to Ron Howard’s filmography, it’s no masterpiece like Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, or Rush, but I will say I enjoyed it more than some of his other films like The Da Vinci Code, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and especially The Dilemma (seriously, is there anyone out there who thought that movie was good?). The characters are developed well, the story is engaging, the visuals are impressive, and what makes the film work is the talented cast that portrays the characters.
Chris Hemsworth, who previously worked with Ron Howard on his 2013 film, Rush is a very engaging actor and his character is very different from the characters he played in the past, his character isn’t a beefcake like Thor and he’s taken more seriously than some of his other characters, which is refreshing because I usually accompany Hemsworth with Thor, understandable but whatever. And of course the rest of the cast is good as well, Benjamin Walker as the captain is great and it’s a much better performance than Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and Tom Holland, who will be portraying the next Spider-Man is a decent young actor and I’m looking forward to seeing him in Captain America: Civil War and Marvel’s next Spider-Man reboot.
My only real problem with the movie is that the beginning drags a little, but once they set sails, that’s when the movie starts getting good, aside from that I thought it was pretty cool.
Don’t expect an Apollo 13 or A Beautiful Mind, but if you just want to see Ron Howard tackle the story that inspired Moby-Dick you won’t be disappointed, grab your crew together and set sail to the nearest IMAX 3D theater and experience it properly.