In the Heart of the Sea
Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw) arrives in 1850 Nantucket looking for an innkeeper (Brendan Gleeson) that he wrote to requesting to know in more detail the tale of a whaling expedition from his youth on the Essex. The innkeeper reluctantly obliges and so the story begins thirty years ago in 1820 when veteran whaler Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth) is recruited by the Pollard family to be first mate on their ship the Essex. The thing is they already promised Chase that he’d get to be captain on his next whaling adventure — but Pollard has a son, George Pollard Jr. (Benjamin Walker), who he wants to take the helm. With his wife expecting, and a bump in pay, Chase accepts. Shortly into their journey the crew, including the innkeeper who is now 14 year-old cabin boy, Thomas Nickerson (Tom Holland) and second mate Matthew Joy (Cillian Murphy), respect Chase’s knowledge and work ethic, much to the envy of Capt. Pollard. After successfully hunting one sperm whale, it’s a far cry from the 2000 barrels of whale oil they need. With no whale sightings for months up and down the Atlantic, they land in Ecuador where they hear of a giant, demonic whale among hundreds of others in the Pacific. So with nothing to lose they go after these whales, and sure enough they find them, but the enormous whale takes out their ship. How will the men get home now stranded on small row boats in the Pacific?
The famous thing In the Heart of the Sea is known for — inspiring Herman Melville’s Moby Dick — is also the very thing that plagues the movie. As the movie unfolds as a story in the story, interruptions back to Melville and old Nickerson really do interrupt the story in a jarring and annoying way. Furthermore, having Nickerson be the narrator is rather odd, since he’s not a major player in the action nor is his relationship with Chase really expanded upon to make us care about him, when Chase and Pollard are the main two characters. It’s also weird that the 14 year old Nickerson aged 30 years is 60 year old Gleeson… That aside, the actual whaling expedition is the most entertaining part — up until you see them actually killing the peaceful whales… The second half of the movie, mostly drifting across the Pacific for countless days, is as tedious as it sounds and really diminishes the epic-ness of this epic true-life tale. Those faults aside, it’s still a decent movie with good enough turns from Hemsworth, future Spider-man Holland, and Benjamin. If you’re interested in checking this out, it should be good enough for you, if you’re not, it probably won’t win you over.