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In the Heart of the Sea
BLU-RAY disk
03.22.2016 By: Sean Wist
In the Heart of the Sea order download
Director:
Ron Howard

Actors:
Chris Hemsworth
Brendan Gleeson
Cillian Murphy

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A recounting of the 1820 maritime disaster that inspired Herman Melville's "Moby-Dick," in which a giant whale took down the New England ship Essex and most of its crew.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Ron Howard. Chris Hemsworth. The story that inspired "Moby-Dick." All the ingredients are there for an epic maritime adventure, so I'm sad to say that someone shit in the soup.

As the film opens, we're introduced to Herman Melville who's meeting a man that served on the Essex when he was a boy. They talk and Melville convinces him to divulge his story of what happened to the Essex. Yes, we're going INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE on this one! We then go back in time and meet, for all intents and purposes, the two main characters of the film: Owen Chase (Hemsworth) and his captain, George Pollard (Benjamin Walker). This is one of those movies you start watching and are really aware that the actors are acting. Sure, it doesn't help that everyone's doing their best period New England accent, but that's just the tip of the blowhole.

Chase thinks he should be captain, on account of his experience and the family he has to provide for, and Pollard is an entitled little shit. Thus the adventure begins, and the Essex leaves harbor with us not really caring about anyone. There's no real sense of adventure as the crew heads out to sea on their whaling mission. A few obstacles along the way, but it all feels very by-the-numbers. The real standout moment of the film is the whale attack, which is just as intense as seen in the trailers. Afterwards, the film slows things down as the survivors try to live upon limited means.

What should be some compelling drama between the captain and his first mate takes a backseat to uneven special effects. Sometimes they look great, and sometimes the crew tries to cover up shoddy green screen work with particle effects and lens flare. And for whatever, reason, there's this hideous green filter applied in a lot of the scenes. Why is the sky green?!? It should NOT be green! Maybe if there was a more interesting story to focus on, it wouldn't be so glaring.

As the drama continues to fall flat, you're left with the film wrapping things up in a way that's not gratifying, but exhausting. It's not a horrible movie by any means, but it's just "there." My suggestion to you: When it's "there," be somewhere else.
THE EXTRAS
Ron Howard: Captain's Log (15:50): In recent years, director Ron Howard has taken a liking to Twitter, and often updates his account with set-photos throughout filming. This short feature goes through some of those Tweets, allowing Howard to narrate and show you some behind-the-scenes footage.

Chase & Pollard: A Man of Means and a Man of Courage (7:28): The cast and crew discuss the two leads of the film, and in doing so, you can see where an interesting kernel of an idea was just never popped.

The Hard Life of a Whaler (8:44): This covers some of the ins and outs of being a whaler, and generally what a difficult life it was.

Whale Tales: Melville's Untold Story (9:13): This featurette goes over some of what was and wasn't in "Moby-Dick" and draws comparisons to the film.

Commanding the Heart of the Sea (10:25): Ron Howard discusses some of the difficulties of shooting a maritime flick. Here you'll get to see some of the techniques used, which are pretty fascinating. Granted, not all the effects turned out for the best, but I'll be damned if they didn't try.

Lightning Strikes Twice: The Real-Life Sequel to Moby-Dick (28:59): History buffs may enjoy this featurette a little more, as it provides a look at some real-time whaling ship wreckage outside of Hawaii, as well as going over a bit of the back story of Captain Pollard. A little unfocused, but there are some interesting tidbits

Deleted Scenes (36:02): Given that there's over 30 minutes of deleted scenes, you'd think a whole other side-story of the film was left on the cutting room floor! Most of these are book-ended by scenes from the film to provide some context, so it's not exactly 36 minutes of unused footage. Still, there are little character moments here and there. While it may have added a bit of depth to our crew, it was definitely all worth sacrificing in the name of a tighter film.

Extended Scenes (7:11): Given that most of the previous material seems like extended scenes anyway, this is 7 more minutes of the same.

Island Montage (3:07): This pointless bullshit is a 3-minute montage of some of the scenes taking place on an island our crew ends up on. Why is it here? Anyone's guess. If you haven't seen the film, it's not exactly a good teaser. If you have, then you know what goes down. Pointless.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
I expected better from everyone involved, and by all means, the cast and crew went for it. They went for it and failed, much like the Essex crew failed to harpoon the hell out of that white whale. IN THE HEART OF THE SEA is not an offensive movie . . . but isn't that pretty terrible? When the best thing you can say about a film is that it isn't offensive? Some of the extras are decent, and the video and audio presentation is top-notch, but the effect is lessened when they accompany such a dull film. Steer clear of this one unless you need any and everything maritime.
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