MOVIE REVIEW: In the Heart of the Sea

In the Heart of the Sea (2015)

Drama based on the real life events that inspired the American Classic Novel Moby Dick.


The whaling ship Essex set out in 1820, with a novice Captain, a First Mate that should have been Captain, and the hopes of killing enough whales to get their prized oil.  During this doomed voyage they would travel farther than they were meant to in order to murder the giants of the deep.  This voyage would destroy the ship, most of the crew, and create a myth that would live on for hundreds of years.

For many Moby Dick is still the greatest American Novel that has ever been produced, personally I’ve never read the book, but everyone that I know who has read the book speaks in the highest regard for the film.  But where did Herman Melville get his inspiration from?  Turns out it’s from the true tale of the whaling ship Essex.  If you are going to see this expecting a Moby Dick film, or a Jaws type of adventure, you’ll be a little disappointed.  The film itself is not disappointing it’s more the expectation of what the film will bring.  Go in with an open mind, expect to be entertained, and just be carried off to sea with a stellar cast and a great story.


Chris (Thor) Hemsworth plays Owen Chase, a sailor who has worked his way up to be the next in line for a Captaincy in a whaling vessel.  Sadly for Owen it’s not to be as the long-standing family connections of the town push a novice Captain on to the ship.  Benjamin Walker plays this role, and manages to do a good job, with the nervous tension of having such a responsibility placed on his young shoulders.  The chemistry between Walker and Hemsworth is uneasy and troubled, which fits in with their difficult relationship on the ship.  The story is told through the eyes of Brendan Gleeson playing the last surviving crew member of the Essex Tom Nickerson, haunted by the memories of what they had to do to survive and plagued by the alcoholism that now stops the memories.  Gleeson is joined by Ben Whishaw (Spectre) who brings Melville to life, a man worried that he won’t be able to do the story the justice that it needs.  Gleeson and Whishaw work well together and you wish that you see more of their interactions.

Honestly I felt that I wanted more about the giant whale that stalked the ship and destroyed the crew.  The film focuses more on the entitlement of name and rank, which is fine, and at times you feel you are watching a sequel to Master and Commander.  The impressive cast and crew on this leave you scratching your head a little wondering why this isn’t your favourite movie of the year, I’m still wondering that today.  The photography, music, and production values are all top-notch and you do feel like you are back in the 19th Century.

For fans of the book, I talked to one after the film and he was excited, it seems this is a good adaptation, for anyone expecting another film like Moby Dick or Jaws you’re going to be a little disappointed.  You just have to clear your memory and watch the film as though you know nothing, because through this tale of survival against the odds you really know little about the true story.  Gladly the film makes no social commentary of the whaling industry today, we all know that it’s wrong, but 200 years ago a lot of things that people did were wrong.  Today we should know better, we don’t, but we should.  This is about entertainment, which it manages to do.  If you want something different to watch when this film opens on December 26 here in Ireland this will be a perfect remedy to the Galaxy far far away.

3 out of 5

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