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'Moby Dick' is the well known adventure of a whaling ship and its crew,
relentlessly hunting the legendary white whale that had been a
proverbial thorn in any whaling expedition. But before Herman Melville
wrote his most famous piece of work in 1850, the American author had
received the inspiration for his classic from a real life whaling
expedition thirty years prior. The true story of the Essex and its crew
reverberated around the world and had the potential to destroy the
whale oil industry at a time when the precious commodity was the
'electricity' of the day. Its use in everyday life was common and was
the main source of heat and lighting in the nineteenth century. The
hunt for the rich oil saw large numbers of whaling ships spending years
at a time out at sea so the bright lights of towns and cities could
burn before the introduction of electricity. How far we have all come,
even from the recent past.
Ron Howard has always been a bankable Director. He has been at the helm
of some truly delightful films in recent memory and has rarely provided
the audience with a bad experience. His solid wisdom has enabled him to
deliver a film that is concrete without being spectacular. Charles
Leavitt's screenplay shadows that of the direction; it provides the
opportunity for deep dialogue without ever pushing the boundaries of
its cast, leaving the best performance to a CGI generated whale. Howard
has been able to create an authentic nineteenth century atmosphere,
with rich scenes full of all the wonderment's of a by-gone era but the
film on a whole seems to lack an emotional impact that Herman
Melville's story was able to achieve. 'Moby Dick' seemed to have an
excitable expectation about it where as 'In the Heart of the Sea'
failed to deliver any really memorable moments. This is not to say that
Ron Howard's film is not watchable, it just has been unable to conjure
up anything new.
The narrative focuses on the booming whaling industry out of Nantucket
and its heavy reliance on whale oil to provide the energy that society
needs to live through their everyday lives. The whaling ship 'Essex' is
the pride of the fleet and has been commissioned for a new expedition
for the growing need of the priceless liquid. The story is told through
the eyes of Thomas Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson), who is the last
survivor of the fateful adventure that took place thirty years before.
His narration is for the benefit of Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw) who
is compelled to write about the story. Nickerson centres his narration
around Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth), the second in command of the Essex
and a man that was born to be a whale-man. Chase is respected by his
crew and is good enough to be the Captain in his own right but lacks
the heritage to demand such a post. George Pollard (Benjamin Walker) is
given the task of commanding the Essex and it isn't long before his
personality clashes with that of Chase.
Through heavy storms, potential mutiny and misdirection, the Essex and
its crew struggle to make the quota of three thousand barrels of oil
needed for a successful voyage. With hope quickly turning to doubt,
morale is boosted with a story of infinite whale sighting's a thousand
miles from land and the chance for the crew to meet the demands of
their employers. once the Essex reaches its location they are
confronted by a monster that they have never encountered before; a
sperm whale with white markings that is one hundred feet long and full
of vengeance. It doesn't take a genius to know what happens next but
the aftermath leaves both Pollard and Chase with memories that changes
the course of their lives.
This is the whales film and the gigantic beast's on screen presence is
what the audience wants to see. He makes an absolute mess of the Essex
and hauntingly stalks the survivors as they float in small boats in the
vastness of the Pacific knowing that they are all at the whale's mercy.
Brendan Gleeson is always good to watch and puts in a solid performance
as the older Thomas Nickerson. Ben Whishaw is a star of the future and
does credit to his role in a safe performance as the famous Melville.
Chris Hemsworth is trying to spread his acting wings by expanding his
appeal to the powers that be. The big Aussie hunk is doing his best to
become a bankable leading man but the jury is still out as to whether
he has the screen presence to successfully become the film star that we
all want him to be. He can act but I feel at times that he is left
behind by more accomplished craftsmen.
'In the Heart of the Sea' is a curious film. See it once and enjoy what
it has to offer but 'Moby Dick' it ain't. The audience does get an
insight into the extremities of an industry that was once the life
blood of human civilisation. There is a scene that could be confronting
to those viewers with a weak stomach as the Essex crew go about
extracting the oil from the harmless beasts of the ocean but luckily
this is only seen once although vital in the context of the narrative.
Tags for In the Heart of the Sea Full Movie
, Brendan Gleeson
, Chris Hemsworth
, Cillian Murphy
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