Film review: In the Heart Of The Sea (3 out of 5)

In the Heart of the Sea SUS-160116-092739001
In the Heart of the Sea SUS-160116-092739001

Even though many people haven’t actually read the book or seen the excellent 1956 film (and the remakes that followed), most know the story of Moby Dick.

It’s one of those yarns that seem to get passed down the generations.

Herman Melville’s novel is a classic piece of literature and has ensured his fame down the years.

In The Heart Of The Sea is the story behind Moby Dick, the real-life drama encountered by the whaling ship Essex out of New England in 1820.

For the movie, director Ron Howard recounts the tragic tale via one of the survivors, quizzed by Melville who is desperate the get the facts for a new book he is planning.

Ben Whishaw (who seems to be cropping up everywhere at the moment) is Melville and Brendan Gleeson is Tom Nickerson, who was a young boy on the Essex and who is now haunted by what happened.

Nickerson recalls the conflict between the Essex’s captain, George Pollard and the first mate Owen Chase.

Pollard has been made captain of the Essex because of who he knows rather than talent while Chase, an experienced whaler, feels cheated out of the command.

Tensions run high but all that is put aside when they encounter a giant white whale that takes things personally.

The action scenes are impressive and the CGI is sound enough.

The main concern I had was that the interplay between Whishaw and Gleeson was far better than that between Chris Hemsworth (as Chase) and Benjamin Walker (as Pollard).

Melville and Nickerson are supposed to be just setting up the storyline but become as strong a thread as the main plot, mainly due to some fine acting.

The excellent Cillian Murphy as Chase’s crew-mate and friend Matthew Joy was also rather under-used.

Putting those grumbles aside, though, this is a sound action drama that does seem to vividly conjure up the experiences endured on the high seas.

Film details: In The Heart Of The Sea (12A) 122mins

Director: Ron Howard

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson

Screening courtesy of Horsham Capitol

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