By Mandela Wells
Ron Howard is similar to Steven Spielberg in that he is able to entertain but also add quality substance and solid plot to a film. With numerous successful films under his belt, including “Apollo 13″, “Rush”, “A Beautiful Mind”, and “The Da Vinci Code”, I was surprised to see him take on a Moby Dick themed story. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until I saw “In The Heart of the Sea,” that I thought he should have taken on the actual Moby Dick story rather than the story that inspired Moby Dick.
The film, as a whole, was also a huge disappointment and I should have realized that because it had been pushed back from its original date, there was the likelihood that the film would be less than outstanding. Though that is not always the case with movies whose release dates have been pushed back, in this particular case, it was.
Thomas Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson), an old man living a quiet life with his wife in 1850, gets a visit from novelist, Herman Melville, seeking the truth behind the Essex Voyage. Nickerson begins the narration and we’re introduced to Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth), the protagonist and is assigned to be the first mate of the ship that a young Nickerson (Tom Holland) was on. Although the captain of the ship is George Pollard Jr. (Benjamin Walker), Chase proves himself to be a strong leader on a voyage meant to retrieve whale oil. All is going smoothly until the ship is met with a mammoth whale who leaves a trail of destruction in his wake and drives Chase to become obsessed with hunting it down and killing it. Then, the crew must do whatever they can to survive.
While the movie was ambitious, it wasn’t great. Moby Dick is a legendary story and has the potential to be an amazing adventure film, to choose to create a movie for the inspiration for it then is a poor decision, in my opinion. I believe, wholeheartedly, that more seats would have been filled had the film been based on the actual Moby Dick novel. I never thought I’d see a Ron Howard movie I didn’t like considering his track record, but this movie was simply not the work Ron Howard is known for.
Chris Hemsworth was alright in the film, but there was nothing particularly spectacular about his performance. It’s been established that he can play the role of a leader; at this point, I would rather see him in a supporting role, or something slightly different than what he typically does. Though, I will admit that he did show commitment to the role at the end when he resembled a bearded zombie. Tom Holland also gave a decent performance throughout the film, which redeems it in some way.
From a technical perspective, it was a well-rounded film and came together nicely. The whale was captured very well and the use of CGI was quite beautifully done. I loved the tone of the film and the lighting really helped carry the mood of the film as well as the overall editing.
While I’m sorry to say this because I had such high hopes, the film was simply not very good and was lackluster from beginning to end. I am not at all surprised to see it tank at the box office as it overall was a fairly disappointing movie.
Image by MMLeonard (https://mmleonard.com/2016/04/24/movie-review-in-the-heart-of-the-sea/)