Movie Reviews

Published on December 11th, 2015 | by Sasha Glenn


In the Heart of the Sea


Based on a novel by Nathaniel Philbrick, “In the Heart of the Sea,” is the tale that inspired “Moby Dick.” Set in 1820, the whaling ship Essex is taken out by a gigantic bull sperm whale and the crew finds themselves at the mercy of the sea.

Director Ron Howard strikes a fine balance between drama and action. The film doesn’t linger too long on building up the background story before plunging into an enthralling adventure. The character development is rapid, yet still manages to create depth and give the audience a chance to connect to the personalities.

Early in the film an entertaining power struggle takes place between Captain George Pollard, Jr. (Benjamin Walker) and First Officer Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth). Captain Pollard was born into a prestigious whaling family and though not the most experienced, is placed in the position of Captain. Chase on the other hand was an orphan who grew up putting in hard work on whaling ships. The conflict between the two men dooms the crew and the ship from the outset.

The first scenes of whaling are hard to watch, bringing to light the aspect of humans as beasts themselves hunting peaceful creatures for oil.

After the ship has had a bit of success, they move on to take more. Greed and anger backfire and nature fights back. When the ship is taken out by the enraged bull sperm whale, a sheer battle for survival, requiring brute strength and quick thinking ensues.

The ominous seas show no mercy to the men, bringing them to the brink of death. When the men begin to starve they resort to cannibalism. The emotional battle of moral struggle is heart wrenching.

The film has a spiritual quality, incorporating themes of the human experience of survival, ignorance, transcendence. It also has some political undertones dealing with the subject of big oil that, despite being a very old story, are still relevant today.

The graphics are absolutely stunning and the acting is good. But the story and execution is what makes it a truly great film. It is the sum that’s greater than the individual parts in this case, which makes the film an awe inspiring experience.

I give “In the Heart of the Sea” 5 out of 5 stars.

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