Hot Take: The origin story of a story. Really. Really? Really. Turns out the origin of Moby-Dick was Jaws: The Revenge, if it were saturated with machismo and testosterone.
I never read Moby-Dick. Let’s be real, if you weren’t required to in school growing up, you probably didn’t, either. I also didn’t read In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, the book based on the origin of the book Moby-Dick which was the inspiration of In the Heart of the Sea. Watching In the Heart of the Sea, though, one gets the feeling the real inspiration was Jaws: The Revenge and a longing for when “men were men” as Chris Hemsworth (as First Mate Owen Chase), puffed chest and all, mans his way around the screen for about 2 hours while a vengeful whale hunts down the Whaleship Essex.
Oddly enough, even though Ron Howard directs, the film’s biggest flaw is it’s directing. Somehow, the film fails to capture the feeling of being lost at sea that so many other films have done so masterfully. Throughout the movie, there’s a crowded, almost claustrophobic feeling which is disastrous for a film of these proportions. Also, the most climactic moment of the film happens in the middle of the second act and provides a peak the film slides downward from the rest of the way out.
While In the Heart of the Sea borrows it’s story from a true story that inspired one of the most epic pieces of fiction of all time, it could have benefitted heavily from doing a little outsourcing of it’s own. Last year’s Unbroken did an outstanding job of capturing the difficulty of being stranded at sea for days. There are a number of other examples of films with a better feel for the expansiveness of the ocean as this type of film is not unchartered territory.
In the Heart of the Sea was not a bad movie, just a disappointing one. The scenes featuring the great white whale are excellent but the effects are in no way groundbreaking. The film does a lot of things adequately, just not spectacularly. It’s a ho hum tale of a whale that could have been a whale of a tale but wasn’t. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- The Whale
The film’s money shots are the ones featuring the whale as it unleashes fury on the Whaleship Essex and it’s crew.
- Chris Hemsworth’s Manliness
Hemsworth is the manliest man of them all in the film. There’s very little question who the alpha male is.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- When Did the Ocean Become So Small?
Director Howard fails to capture how large the ocean actually is. It’s the first thing you realize when you’re far enough away from land to see it and no matter how long you’re there, there’s a constant reminder of it’s great depths. Unfortunately, somehow In the Heart of the Sea forgets.
- Just Because It’s a Tale About Men Doing Men Things, We Could Have Had a Little Emotion, Right?
As I watched In the Heart of the Sea, I joked about how manly the film was. All joking aside, men are capable of emotions, too… too bad In the Heart of the Sea thinks that wide eyed stares and drowning oneself in whiskey are the way men show theirs.