In the Heart of the Sea.
Chris Hemsworth is really struggling with breaking free of his Thor persona. A coworker said today, “He really needs a new agent.” The film Blackhat was one of the worst movies of 2014. Rush flew under everyone’s radar, regardless how good it was. So here, teamed up with director Ron Howard again (after Rush), can he finally break free of that typecasting?
Hemsworth stars as the First Mate of a whaling ship, though he thinks he deserves to be the Captain, as opposed to the privileged rich guy who inherited his position (Benjamin Walker, really only known for Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter). So these two butt heads but they have to find a way to survive and find whales, which they will kill and gut for their fat and oils, which is a big deal back in early 1800s America.
We also have Cillian Murphy, Joseph Mawle, and the soon-to-be Spider-Man, Tom Holland, as other crewmates. Tom Holland’s character, who is just a boy, has moments when he’s much older (Brendan Gleeson) and is telling this story to author Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw) who will use it as inspiration for Moby Dick.
The whaling expeditions are the biggest moments in the movie, hands down. These action scenes are gripping, though they become a bit repetitive. How many different ways can a whale capsize a ship? The effects are fine but not to the point of realism.
My favorite parts of this film were the future scenes, when Brendan Gleeson and Ben Whishaw discuss the events of these expeditions. Gleeson, known to most of you as “Mad-Eye” Moody from the Harry Potter films, gives some great moments, which give the past events a little more weight to them. And Ben Whishaw is, as usual, great but vastly underused. I don’t know why he isn’t a huge name by now… His performance in Cloud Atlas was the highlight of that film. Anyways, he’s not really utilized except for a sounding board for Gleeson but it works.
What doesn’t work?
While Hemsworth does have a few moments that work, he really doesn’t work that well here as a whole. He still does the Thor voice, even though he’s trying to hide his actual accent and he doesn’t really pull it off.
Also the movie has a very tame color scheme and becomes a bit boring to watch. Yes, this is mostly due to the fact that they’re on boats in the ocean for the entire movie, so incorporating color is undoubtedly a problem. Either way, I got a bit fatigued by the aesthetics. Everything just seemed to be toned with browns and tans, like the whole movie was sepia toned in post-production.
The whale is really the good guy here and I found myself not caring about any of the human characters, except for Tom Holland/Brendan Gleeson. There are some really brutal and visceral scenes involving the killing and gutting of whales and it’s a bit hard to watch, which just make you root for this big badass whale even more. That’s a problem though, when the movie is focusing on the survival of these men.
In the Heart of the Sea looked really good in the trailers, I thought. Potential award winner. But it doesn’t live up to that expectation. You spend most of the movie with characters that are murdering whales and you’re expected to sympathize with them, which is a bit of problem, and the graphic nature of some of these scenes might be too much for some of you. The action scenes are really intense but the scenes in between are all very bland to watch and you’re just waiting for the whales to show up again. Not a horrible movie but I can’t recommend seeing it in theaters. Maybe rent it, if you’re curious.