WRITTEN BY: Charles Leavitt
DIRECTED BY: Ron Howard
STARRING: Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson, Tom Hollard
RATING: 3 stars
Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw) wants to write a novel about the sinking of the Essex ship during a whaling expedition in 1820. Only one crewman, Thomas Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson), is still alive to tell the tale but needs persuading to talk about the tragedy. As he shares his story, we learn Captain George Pollard (Benjamin Walker) was born into the whaling business but first mate Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth) is far more experienced and has the respect of the crew, including Matthew Joy (Cillian Murphy). The crew sets off to hunt whales for their oil, but soon a giant and aggressive whale begins stalking them.
Based on the true story that inspired Melville's classic Moby Dick, this film is visually spectacular with the tempestuous ocean as much of an antagonist as the whale. Without pressing the point, director Ron Howard also seems to touch on the barbarity of slaughtering whales, even though it was common practice at the time, and is still happening in some parts of the world today. Hemsworth's dramatic acting is fine and the fact that he lost so much weight is especially impressive given how huge he is when he plays Thor. But his accent is inconsistent and very distracting. It is unbelievable no one noticed during filming. In The Heart of the Sea is a decent blockbuster, but it is perhaps only truly gratifying for die-hard maritime fans.