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In the heart of the sea: A review

Round Table Communications Manager Nicole reviews “In the Heart of the Sea”.

Legions of diehard cinema fans were treated to a much hyped “Secret Screening” at Cineworld cinemas across the UK. Speculation was rife: What film would be kept a secret two days before the official launch of Star Wars?

The eagle-eyed amongst us clocked the films running time and certificate at the time of booking, and all clues pointed to an early screening of “In the Heart of the Sea”, a Ron Howard directed picture due for release on the 26th December.

Hope of an early Star Wars screening must have been out there and accounted for the audible groan when the screen showed our Moby Dick based film on the screen.

So let’s get to business; what is it all about?

It’s quite simple. This is the telling of the story that would then go onto inspire the story of famous novel, Moby Dick.

In the winter of 1820, the New England whaling ship The Essex left port. However, with a lack of whales to hunt, our intrepid mariners look for whales in unchartered waters and encounter a whale which will change the course of their lives.  

Chris Hemsworth plays Owen Chase (who has a questionable accent throughout), a farmer’s son who has worked to prove his worth in the whaling industry, despite not being from a traditional mariner family. He is paired with Captain George Pollard, played by Benjamin Walker, a Captain who is placed on the ship due to his families’ heritage rather than any merit.

They are joined by crewmates who have to beat almost unsurmountable odds after the whale takes down their ship, leaving them with some terrible choices in order to survive.

Lack of food and water even drive them to depths that no man ever imagines, all whilst trying to keep sane.

As I type this, I almost feel like I’m already giving the film too much credit: it’s more Moby Fail than Moby Whale.

The screening was in 3D. I’m a 3D sceptic as it is and this fell into this category. With subject matter such as this, I expected epic sequences in 3D which enhanced the film. If anything, I would have preferred it in 2D as much of the 3D work was distracted and took away from the cinematography (which was pretty impressive).

Acting on the whole is good. Other familiar faces on screen included Cillian Murphy (who was underused in this film) and established actor Brendan Gleeson who acts as narrator for the whole piece, as well as playing the older version of crewman Thomas Nickerson. Star turn however is Tom Holland, who plays the young Tom Nickerson. His innocence and youth make some of the more harrowing scenes all the more believable.

There are echoes of what is to come in early scenes, when an injured whale’s blood is smattered across the young Nickerson’s face. The horror of what is going to happen is foreshadowed, but the effect that the director is trying to achieve is barely achieved.

However, the characters are barely fleshed out and the pace of the film doesn’t allow us to get more than a superficial idea of what the movie is trying to tell us about these people. I didn’t feel gripped, I felt bored.

While I don’t regret seeing the film entirely, I don’t think I’d ever watch it again. This should have been a great film as the source material is fantastic. However, it has been too polished for the audience, relying on too many plot devices which ultimately take the edge off what should be a feast for the eyes.







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