Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of action and peril, brief startling violence, and thematic material. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: December 11, 2015 Released by: Warner Brothers
Ron Howard rides the wave of interpreting the inspiration of Moby Dick in an increasingly stilted and turgid cinematic expedition, seemingly another big star turn for Chris Hemsworth, beloved by many as Thor in the Marvel Universe. Who might want to hammer the result down to much less than epic size.
In The Heart of the Sea is framed by Ben Whishaw's fledging writer Herman Melville interviewing a stricken, aging seaman Thomas Nickerson (a not so bad Brendan Gleeson).
In the 1820s Nickerson's maiden voyage aboard U.S. vessel The Essex as a good ole' sailor turned out to be more than a ho-hum commercial gain of valuable oil from sperm whales.
But, if this retelling with Charles Leavitt's uninspired script has some procedural qualities that draw interest early on it becomes more prosaic not having the spry snap of a perfect storm or squall in this case as a ginormous villain swims into view (oddly enough the CGI has more to offer when the blubber marauder isn't scaring the crew or dive-bombing their hold).
Aboard the Essex, the strapping first mate of a common, roguish crew, Owen Chase (Hemsworth) becomes outraged against the foppish, inexperienced Capt. George Pollard (Benjamin Walker). And shows what a stand-up bloke he can be. Suffice to say there is a belligerent creature out against two crafts with unlucky survivors steering them and viewers may not want to take a break when provisions become less and less.
Like its main character, Sea doesn't roar but becomes emaciated which is rare for an auteur like Howard who you would think would treat this material with a beautiful mind.
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