Film review: IN THE HEART OF THE SEA (12A)

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SHOWCASE CINEMAS PETERBOROUGH, OUT NOW

CAST: CHRIS HEMSWORTH, BENJAMIN WALKER, BRENDAN GLEESON, BEN WHISHAW, TOM HOLLAND, CILLIAN MURPHY, JORDI MOLLA, FRANK DILLANE, GARY BEADLE & MICHELLE FAIRLEY

RUNNING TIME: 2 HRS 2 MINS

DIRECTOR: RON HOWARD

A massive whale that would put Jaws to shame; based on one of the most famous books of all-time; and from the Oscar-winning director of A Beautiful Mind – what could possibly go wrong?

Well lots really. With the biggest being it’s really, really dull.

That’s surprising because the trailer (and terrific posters) indicated something far, far different – as this tells the tale of the events that inspired the classic novel Moby Dick.

The story traverses between two eras, starting with 1820, as first officer Owen Chase (Thor’s Chris Hemsworth), captain George Pollard (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Killer’s Benjamin Walker), veteran Matthew Joy (Batman Begins’ Cillian Murphy), rookie Thomas Nickerson (soon-to-be-seen as the new Spider-man in Captain America: Civil War) and crew, set sail on New England whaling ship the Essex from the Massachusetts island of Nantucket in search of the mammal’s precious commodity of oil.

It then traverses back and forth to 1850 where fledgling author Herman Melville (Spectre’s Ben Whishaw) – who goes on to write Moby Dick the following year – tries to get an older (and obviously surviving member) Tom Nickerson (Braveheart’s Brendan Gleeson) to re-count the terrible story that he has kept locked inside for so long.

This story generally revolves around a whale of mammoth size and will – and an almost human sense of vengeance – who takes out his anger on the vessel, as the ship’s crew are pushed to the limits to survive.

Sadly, despite an impressive computer-generated ‘demon’ whale and a handful of moments of something getting close to delirium, the actual ‘encounter’ between man and mammal is fairly short-lived and the harrowing aftermath isn’t, well, as shocking as it thinks it is.

Chris Hemsworth – who doesn’t do anything particularly wrong – continues to struggle as a standalone A-list star outside of the Avengers and Thor franchises, and sadly this box-office underachiever follows hard on the back of his last flop Blackhat (but that was actually better).

His competitive side story with Walker’s inexperienced captain (who is only in the position due to family status) isn’t particularly noteworthy, and a film that sounded so intriguing slowly drowns as the script fails to offer enough intensity to fulfil its promise.

If these are the events that inspired the legendary book, then it was obviously embellished better in paper form than what acclaimed director Howard does here – as this ends up near the lower reaches of his generally impressive CV.

Getting hit in the face with a wet kipper is probably about as much fun.


Rating: 2/5 Gavin Miller

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