Based on the true events that inspired “Moby Dick”, In the Heart of the Sea tells the true life life tale of the doomed whaling boat the Essex. The ship came under attack by a large Sperm Whale, but not matter what the previews depict. The whale drama is only a fraction of the film. Much of the drama in Ron Howard’s new fishing epic takes place after the attack has occurred and lacks the excitement of the crew doing battle with the giant ocean monster.
Chris Hemsworth takes the lead In the Heart of the Sea as first mate Owen Chase who is forced to work under an experienced Captain named George Pollard (Benjamin Walker) who got the job because of his lineage. The two bicker with some generic dialogue where Hemsworth is playing Thor only with a harpoon and Walker is left to lay the blank stare on him. None of the actors bring anything meaningful to the characters to make you care about their fate. It’s a shame considering the cast includes future Spider-Man Tom Holland, Cillian Murphy and the usually reliable Brendan Gleeson who serves as the source Herman Melville uses to complete his novel.
In the actors defense, the cast was given nothing to work with in terms of script from Charles Leavitt. Without spoiling anything, the choices the crew has to make are nothing we haven’t seen before in any of our survival movies. None of the characters are fleshed out and the film has terrible problems with their pace and plot development. Ron Howard is usually very consistent when it comes to bringing an entertaining story to the big screen, but he struggles turning this amazing story of survival into a compelling watch.
After viewing In the Heart of the Sea, it’s understandable why Herman Melville changed the accounts of the Essex’s fatal voyage. It made for a better story. On paper this movie is billed as an astounding whaling adventure, but mostly it’s guys arguing and men floating in boats. The special effects are subpar and the dialogue is even worse. By the end of In the Heart of the Sea you will be rooting for the big underwater mammal to end this lackluster whale tale.
Overall, I give In the Heart of the Sea 2 out of 4 stars.