By Christian DiMartino
Ron Howard is a great filmmaker. His career has been all over the place, but yet even the films that most hate, I end up enjoying. So it brings me true sadness to say that I didn’t exactly enjoy his latest film, In the Heart of the Sea.
It isn’t necessarily bad, but yet by the end of it, I felt as if I had been rode hard and put up wet. I sat through two of The Lord of the Rings films in theatres, but I still felt as if In the Heart of the Sea exhausted me more. But yet as a visual experience, it is certainly worth your while (don’t see it in 3-D. It isn’t worth it, as usual).
The film opens with Herman Melville (Ben Wishaw), the author of Moby Dick, looking for inspiration to write his novel. He meets Thomas Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson). Nickerson was on a ship that was attacked by a legendary whale, and from then on he tells his story.
Cut back to when Nickerson was a young lad (The next Spider-Man, Tom Holland), the film shows him aboard the Essex, led by Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth) and George Pollard (Benjamin Walker). Their goal is of course to capture whales and kill them. But little do they know that there’s a giant whale deep in, well, “the heart of the sea,” and soon the whale wreaks havoc on this ship. The damage leaves them stranded in the middle of the ocean for roughly three months, and we see the crew as they struggle to survive.
The first 50 minutes feels like an eternity. Granted, you are definitely eager to see this whale. But the wait feels like torture. Once it does arrive, it is certainly worth the wait. It is just as majestic as you’d imagine.
Visually, this is one of Howard’s best. The visual effects are marvelous, the cinematography is beautiful, the production design and all is lavish. The story is also a great one, though I admit that when these characters bit the dust, I didn’t really feel any emotional attachment to them. They die, but we don’t exactly care.
Hemsworth is a likable actor, and in Howard’s last film, Rush, Hemsworth proved that he could be more than Thor. This time, however, his accent is a bit wobbly. It sounds as if he is trying to do Thor, but then also trying to disguise it with… something, I am not really sure what.
Lastly, there is one thing that has been on my mind since I first heard of its existence. Why wouldn’t Howard just make an adaptation of Moby Dick? I get that he wanted to cover the real story, but yet it takes too long for the interesting part to kick in.
It truly makes me sad to give this film 2 stars, but yet I feel as if I cannot give it any higher. Perhaps I should have waited to see it on DVD. Perhaps I will give it another go when it comes out on DVD. But for now, my heart just isn’t in it.