"In the Heart of the Sea" stars Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Tom Holland, Ben Whishaw, and Brendan Gleeson. Released on December 11, 2015, the film has the crew of the whaling ship Essex struggling to survive the dangerous waters after their ship got destroyed by a large sperm whale.
The film is directed by Ron Howard, who also directed films such as Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, and Rush. It is based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Nathaniel Philbrick, that inspired the tale of Moby Dick. It was originally going to be released in March 2015, but then got moved to this weekend, possibly to avoid competition. What got me interested in this film is the concept and its director. The last film I saw that was directed by Howard was Rush, which was one of my favorite films of 2013, so it would be interesting to see how he's going to handle a film that inspired the great white whale. Turns out it wasn't the type of voyage that's considered Oscar-worthy, but it's still worth a watch.
The film is set in the 1820s and is told by Thomas Nickerson, played by Brendan Gleeson, with his younger self being portrayed by Tom Holland, the next Spider-Man. Both of these actors delivered some very good performances, along with Chris Hemsworth as Owen Chase, the First Mate of the Essex. Glesson is probably the best part of the film because of how he portrays his character's sensitive side after the tragedy. The visual effects were the big highlight of the film as it captures the feeling of being out into the ocean, along with bringing the large sperm whale to life. I mean, come on, that thing was HUGE! Ron Howard did a nice job at capturing the emotion of these characters as they were stranded on open waters, but the development of them being hopelessly lost felt rushed. The pacing in the film was consistent and never drags.
The story is the weakest point of the film, compared to Howard's other films. The narrative flow seemed a little off balanced at times, leaving little to no depth in the characters. I also felt that the film's tone is a bit too gloomy at times. There were a couple amounts of humor in there, but not enough to capture the adventurous side of the film.
Overall, despite its unbalanced narrative and gloomy tone, "In the Heart of the Sea" is a visual splendor from beginning to end. Even though I enjoyed it for what it is, I felt that this is one of Howard's weaker films of his career in terms of story and depth. Still, I would recommend it to those who are interested in the tale that inspired Moby Dick.