Usually when I have low to no expectations for a film it usually manages to be a lot better than I may have thought. In the Heart of the Sea was better than I was anticipating but not much. It’s passable entertainment with an okay plot and fantastic visuals. But that’s really it. It managed to keep me from squirming in my theater chair for two hours but once it was over it already began to leave my mind. After discussing it with others that saw it I came to this conclusion- this would have been a far superior film had it been told from the point of view of the “greenhorn” who makes his first voyage with seasoned whalers as they venture out into the vast oceans in search of whales and their gold-like oil.
The new crew member, a young man in his teenage years, is inexperienced and overwhelmed. He is thrown into a world this is unforgiving, relentlessly fast paced and highly dangerous. In essence he is the audience. I think it’s safe to say that none of us who watch this adventure have ever pierced a whale with a large spear. The boy is the relatable character we should be focused on instead of the usual, boring hero angle featuring like always, Chris Hemsworth.
Ron Howard is a talented filmmaker, no one is disputing this. But as of late his films have been decent at best (at least for me). The films are executed well enough and the visuals are always strong and make for visceral storytelling. It’s usually the story itself that lacks something memorable. His last effort Rush was the epitome of decent but forgettable. From time to time there are strong performances from certain members of the cast but overall it ends up as a slightly better than dull, lackluster effort. Summing all this babble up- his films are strong but not strong enough; good but just short of memorable. In the Heart of the Sea is in the same boat (pun intended).
I made mention of Chris Hemsworth and for my money he is a viable actor but hasn’t shown what he’s truly capable of. His accent work is cringeworthy at times and seemingly his strongest attribute is taking his shirt off. As Thor he nails it; as a race car driver or the first mate of a whaling ship he reaches just beyond funny-but-sad. He’s tall, handsome and has a ridiculously in-shape body. What else? I’m waiting for something more, Chris…
The visuals are without question the strongest aspect of this mediocre adventure. The whale of whales is unimaginably large and intimidating as it should be. The depths of the ocean are showcased to a terrifying degree and the storms are violent and massive. Great visuals and no story depth (Is that irony?) make the awful bearable but not much better than a Michael Bay jaunt into madness (I know I mention him a lot but he’s awful and the prime example of bad filmmaking.) But believe me IT IS better than anything he touches. This is a C-grade, minimal effort, entertaining for the most part adventure featuring an okay cast and visuals that belong in a film with material stronger than what this provides.
I can’t outright say this is a film to skip but maybe save it for a discount day or get some unsuspecting yuppie on your friends list to pay for you (or rent it). There are better options to choose from this weekend- Creed, Krampus (amazing), Spectre and so on. In the Heart of the Sea, proceed with caution and low expectations.
Rated PG-13 For: intense sequences of action and peril, brief startling violence, and thematic material
Runtime: 121 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Action/Adventure, Biography
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson, Ben Whishaw
Directed By: Ron Howard
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 2.5/ Acting: 3/ Directing: 3/ Visuals: 4
OVERALL: 2.5 Nerdskulls
Check out the trailer below:
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