After a near-fatal plane crash in WWII, Olympian Louis Zamperini spends a harrowing 47 days in a raft with two fellow crewmen before he's caught by the Japanese navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp.
Having endured his legendary twelve labors, Hercules, the Greek demigod, has his life as a sword-for-hire tested when the King of Thrace and his daughter seek his aid in defeating a tyrannical warlord.
In the winter of 1820, the New England whaling ship Essex was assaulted by something no one could believe: a whale of mammoth size and will, and an almost human sense of vengeance. The real-life maritime disaster would inspire Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. But that told only half the story. "In the Heart of the Sea" reveals the encounter's harrowing aftermath, as the ship's surviving crew is pushed to their limits and forced to do the unthinkable to stay alive. Braving storms, starvation, panic and despair, the men will call into question their deepest beliefs, from the value of their lives to the morality of their trade, as their captain searches for direction on the open sea and his first mate still seeks to bring the great whale down.
While the film depicts Owen Chase as older and more experienced than Captain George Pollard, Pollard was in fact older, being 29 when Essex sailed to Chase's 23. While Essex was Pollard's first captaincy, he had actually been serving as an officer aboard her for eight years of highly successful and lucrative whaling voyages. The tension between the two men was significantly played up for the film. See more »
[in his letter]
How does one come to know the unknowable? What faculties must a man possess? Since it was discovered that whale oil could light our cities in ways never achieved before, it created global demand. It has pushed man to venture further and further into the deep blue unknown. We know not its depths, nor the host of creatures that live there. Monsters. Are they real?
[a huge whale passes]
Or do the stories exist only to make us respect the sea's dark secrets?
[...] See more »
Howards visually strong film sails between the waters of greatness and mediocrity
Let's deal with the elephant in the room or in this particular case the great white whale in the boat, old ginger top Ron Howard's impressive looking new high seas adventure is not one of the year's best (or awards player as many thought) but it's an often mightily enjoyable time out at the cinema thanks to its visual spectacle.
Delayed from an early year release at years start and set a new opening timeslot in the awards friendly period of December, hype started building for this adaptation of Nathaniel Philbrick's well-loved novel (or simply the "real Moby Dick" story) that had many calling out the film as both a likely box office hot shot and a real wild card at this year's awards circuits.
What singular element likely to hold In the Heart of the Sea back from such bounties is hard to pinpoint but a summation could be given to suggest a lack of heart and strangely plotted narrative are key factors to Heart's inability to truly set sail.
Those who expected Heart to be a real man v whale high stakes thrill ride will be sorely disappointed as that's really not Howard's focus here while others may find themselves growing weary quickly of Heart's more survival against the odds scenario that sadly features characters we'd love to care a little more about.
From all reports investing in the characters in Philbrick's book is not an issue but with Chris Hemsworth's Owen Chase here leading the charge as second mate of the Essex and its captain George Pollard (played to boorish effect by Benjamin Walker) the crew of this wailing vessel fail to engage us on their high stakes journey and as "big white" makes his debut and the crew start to be whittled down in number, a realisation dawns that Howard and his screenwriter Charles Leavitt haven't done enough for us to invest our emotions in their increasingly doomed plight against one huge freak of nature.
After so-so turns in Snow White and the Huntsman and the beyond awful Blackhat, questions must now be raised about Hemsworth's ability to lead a film outside of his Thor comfort zone and whilst his not terrible here he's certainly not the one to help lead Heart forward to another level and in his struggles with nailing accents is again prevalent here although that's never stopped fellow Australian ex-pat Russell Crowe. Side players like Cillian Murphy's Matthew Joy and Brendan Gleeson's aged Thomas Nickerson end up making more of an impression but as like most of the ensemble they are underused and slightly underdeveloped.
This real life Moby Dick is directed with enough assurance and visual flair by the professional and proficient Ron Howard that throughout its two hour run time there's enough to warrant a cinema screen viewing but you can't help escape the feeling that in the end we were never hooked the way we should be to this almost unbelievably huge adventure.
In the Heart of the Sea assuredly sails between the waters of greatness and mediocrity to in the end become a sparingly thrilling yet forgettable telling of one unforgettable story.
3 ½ emaciated Thor's out of 5
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