CinemaDave (cinemadave) wrote,

"In the Heart of the Sea" could have used some Davy Jones

Published in the 19th century, Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, created a public perception about “killer whales” that lasted over a century, until the Jacques Cousteau television specials of the 1970s, which launched the ocean conservation movement and changed our perceptions of undersea life.

The new movie, In the Heart of the Sea tries to bridge the gap between fantasy and reality. The film opens in Massachusetts, circa 1850. Writer Herman Melville (Ben Wishaw) schedules an interview with a reluctant Tom Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson), a solitary husband who is haunted by teenaged memories. With the encouragement of his wife, Nickerson confesses his memory of surviving the sinking of the whaling ship Essex, a victim of the mythical White Whale.

The film flashes back 30 years and we meet young Nickerson (Tom Holland), who is boarding the Essex as a first time sailor. The teenager comes under the wing of Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth), the Essex’s first mate and an expert harpooner. Chase had been denied a captaincy and is forced to babysit the neophyte Captain George Pollard (Benjamin Walker), who received the commission due to family connections. This relationship causes conflict between the captain and the first mate.

The objective of whale hunting in the 19th Century was to provide oil for heating and lamps. We witness a successful whale hunt and Owen Chase lives up to his legendary status. Due to over fishing in a Pacific whaling area, the Essex is forced to venture further on into uncharted waters. When making port in South American, Captain Pollard and his crew are met by a crew of amputees who are warned about “the white whale.”

From this point, it is easy to deduce the rest of the plot. One is shocked by the gruesome elements not revealed in the television trailers. Let’s just say that the title In the Heart of the Sea has double meaning.

This film has many good things going for it: a good story, some interesting characters and some dynamic set pieces. Unfortunately, the many fine details do not come together to satisfy the whole viewing experience. It has been proclaimed a box office bomb that is likely to disappear from the big screen before the year is out. After all, Star Wars:The Force Awakens Friday, Dec. 18.

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