“I had my concerns going in. As much as I respect Ron Howard as a director, and as much as I love cast members Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, and a surprise Benjamin Walker, I wasn’t too sure there’d be a whole lot to this movie. The trailer suggested a thin plot that would be heavily reliant on contained but over the top action sequences. I was kinda right.
In the Heart of the Sea tells the true story of whaling ship, the Essex, and it’s unfortunate encounter with a large whale. Its story would inspire Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. In fact, the film was framed as Melville talking with a survivor about the ordeal, in order to inform a book he’s writing. While I did go thru a very long phase of reading classic literature towards the end of elementary school, I never quite made it around to Moby Dick. I read a tiny abridged version that basically just said “”there was a big white whale and it was mean””, but that doesn’t really count. Besides, I’m sure all the metaphor would have been lost on me at that age, and I would have found it quite boring. Then again, my favorite book at the time (and still in my top 3 today) was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, so maybe the great white whale would have been up my alley.
But we’re not here to talk about the reading choices of fifth grade Dawn, we’re here to talk about the movie choices of, um, considerably older than fifth grade Dawn. The film was a little ho-hum. Yes, it was an interesting and perhaps even inspiring survivor’s tale, although a big chunk of it seemed a bit too reminiscent of the other recent survivor’s tale, Unbroken. I just found it too simplistic–Go get the whales! There are no whales. Get the big whale! Oh crap–pretty much the plot right there.
Characters were okay, but nothing earth shattering. Chris Hemsworth’s guy was pretty impressive in how he knew his way around a boat, but we’ve seen the sad sailor away from home archetype as well as the second in command who’s resentful of his ill-qualified leader archetype. Really, the surprise Benjamin Walker was the best part for me. His trailer for the next Nicholas Sparks movie played before the film, and I found myself thinking that as much as I like him and don’t get to see him often, that movie wouldn’t be worth sitting thru. Instead, I’ll content myself with waiting to see him on stage in American Psycho in a few months. And then he appeared on screen here. He didn’t really have a whole lot to work with, but you can’t fault a guy for trying. Ah well, until next time
In the Heart of the Sea – \m/ \m/ \n”