In the Heart of the Sea Review
In the Heart of the Sea is a 2015 adventure biopic directed by Ron Howard and starring Chris Hemsworth, Tom Holland and Brendan Gleeson. It is a film that received mixed reviews, but is quite solid in my opinion.
Writer Herman Melville comes to visit innkeeper Thomas Nickerson in search of inspiration for his novel which is eventually going to be Moby Dick. The man tells him the story of how he survived the sinking of the whaling ship Essex after it was struck by a whale and how the crew had to resort to cannibalism in order to survive. I have always found the stories of how the writers get their inspiration for the novel fascinating and it was like that here as well and those scenes I really did enjoy a lot. And the overall story is very entertaining and always dramatic and involving with a nice sense of adventure.
But the problem is that the story is told in a wrong way. It uses this storytelling device of the story being told rather poorly as the man who tells the story is not the emphasis of said story. Maybe they feared that the child actor wouldn’t deliver and thus shifted the emphasis to another character, but that choice is awkward having in mind how talented Tom Holland really is. That certainly was weak. But the characters are not better either.
Owen Chase is your typical good guy that is made too heroic and flawless and you never really learn a lot about him nor do you learn about anyone here which is a major problem. Captain George Pollard is also a typical creation, but at least the relationship between the two is interesting and has its moments. Thomas Nickerson is boring as a young boy and underused, but is solid as an old man and he tells the story in a typical, albeit professional way. And the rest of the characters are all nothing to write home about.
The acting is quite good with every actor giving a good performance. Chris Hemsworth is very good and proves how he can be used quite effectively in dramatic roles and especially in historical films. Brendan Gleeson is also solid and Tom Holland is good, but underused. And Benjamin Walker could have better as his role was quite big. But the acting is overall quite good.
In the Heart of the Sea is visually such an appealing film. Yes, it is obvious they you are watching the scenes created with CGI, but at least those effects are very good and serve their purpose. Yes, it is too dark at times, but there were also many light scenes as well and the effects overall are very good and the film always looks good with the sea scenes in particular being the highlights with the ports and whales wonderfully realized.
The pacing here is good and the movie rarely is abrupt or slow. It is solidly directed by Ron Howard and is well filmed. The score is also stupendous and the movie delivers in sound design. It is also quite emotional at times, but because the characterization is nowhere to be found, those heartwarming scenes don’t hit as much as they should. The movie is also pretty typical when you think about it and mostly very predictable. The dialogue also should have been stronger, but it has its moments, mainly the conversation between Polland and Chase about the relationship between man and nature which is one of the highlights without a doubt. But it should have been smarter, more emotional and more dramatic and it would have been much better as a result.