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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Monday, July 18, 2016

Movie Review - In the Heart of the Sea

In the Heart of the Sea (2015)
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy, Ben Whishaw, Tom Holland, and Brendan Gleeson
Directed by Ron Howard

On a rainy night in 1850, young Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw) arrives at the home of the grizzled Tom Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson), a seasoned seaman, who tells the aspiring author about his time on the whaling ship Essex in 1920 and the horrible events that led to its sinking.  Nickerson's memories about his time as a young boy (played by Tom Holland) capturing whales for their oil alongside the Essex's first mate Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth) and captain George Pollard (Benjamin Walker) paint a vivid portrait of sea life for Melville.  Of course, with Melville being known for the epic tale of man vs. nature Moby Dick, it's easy to see that In the Heart of the Sea isn't always a pretty picture -- sometimes nature wins out.

Shockingly, Ron Howard's In the Heart of the Sea was one of my most anticipated films of 2015 thanks to a fantastic first trailer.  It was due to be released early in the year, but was then pushed back to December which many assumed was a ploy to garner awards recognition.  Well, it came up empty with every awards body, Star Wars ate up all the screens at the box office in mid-December, and In the Heart of the Sea didn't even stick around for the holiday season.  So, with my palette failing to be satiated in a theater, I recently rented the film and found it a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

While the film isn't without its faults -- some of the special effects on the sea disappointed, the production design of the New England towns often appears fake, and Chris Hemsworth's accent veers heavily from Bah-stonian to his native Australian oftentimes within a single scene -- its story is a fascinating one, more than holding my interest throughout.  Ron Howard does a great job of placing the audience on the boat, squarely in the middle of the action.  We palpably feel the excitement as we go whale hunting and we certainly become anxious and tense when the inspiration for Melville's novel comes into the picture and begins to wreak havoc on the crew.

I genuinely didn't know how the film was going to end -- although I could have seeing as how this was all based upon a true story -- so as the story unfolded, I was riveted as I watched the crew attempt to survive.  This flick was unjustly maligned by both critics and the public upon its release and while In the Heart of the Sea may not necessarily land on my awards charts either, it didn't disappoint.

The RyMickey Rating:  B

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