Saturday, December 19, 2015

"In the Heart of the Sea" (2015)

This movie was supposed to come out way back in like March, and I really wish it had.  Not only because I had to wait an extra 9 months for it, but because honestly, whose bright idea was it to have this open the weekend before Star Wars:  The Force Awakens?  What even?  People who only see a movie every now and then were going to go to SW:TFA.  People who like to see lots of movies but are very busy at Christmastime were going to go see SW:TFA.  People who only go to movies once in a blue moon but felt like going to see a movie this month were going to see SW:TFA.  Which means the only people who would make the effort to get to the theater to see In the Heart of the Sea would be people who truly wanted to see this particular movie.

People like me.  Because today I dodged around all my fellow Star Wars fans and plunked down my money to see this instead.  (Fear not!  I do intend to see Star Wars, but not until after Christmas.)  Because I have been eagerly anticipating this movie since last December, when I saw one trailer for it and said, "Tall Ships, Chris Hemsworth, Ron Howard, and Moby-Dick?  I AM SO THERE!"

And so there I was.  In a theater the second weekend of In the Heart of the Sea's run, just me and four other people.  I felt very sad for the movie and all those involved because it's really good!  And no one is caring!

People need to care!!!!!!

I'm sure SW:TFA is splendid.  I'm excited to see it.  But this movie is also splendid, and I wish more people were excited about it.  I'm pouting.

Anyway.  I have only seen this once, so my thoughts and understanding of the movie may change after I see it again when it comes to DVD, but from this first viewing, my impression is that this is a movie about the difference between determination and stubbornness.

The movie is framed as an account told to Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw) by the last surviving member of a whaler named the Essex, one Tom Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson in the framing, Tom Holland in the story).  Nickerson's experiences aboard the Essex have haunted him all his life, and his wife hopes that by finally confessing the tale, he will be able to live in peace.  Melville is hungry for the truth about a story he's heard for many years and wants to turn into a novel.


So the story begins.  Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth) is successful and well-respected whaler who had been promised captaincy of a ship for his next voyage.  But the owners of the whaling company instead make him first mate under George Pollard (Benjamin Walker), scion of a wealthy whaling family.  It's Pollard's first voyage, and he is bent on proving himself a better seaman and person than Chase by countermanding Chase's sensible orders and imperiling both ship and crew time and again.  The whole situation smacks of Mutiny on the H.M.S. Bounty for a while.


Then they find some whales and have some whaling adventures, run out of whales, get desperate, and go sailing off into the Pacific in search of whales despite having been warned about a demonic white whale that haunts those waters like a vengeful ghost.  And then all sorts of bad things happen and people die and it's by turns exciting and scary and suspenseful.  Chase remains determined, and Pollard learns to change from stubborn to determined, and Chase learns that killing animals just because you can is a bad idea, and also there's a lot of ocean.

Throughout the story, we come back to Melville and Nickerson occasionally, seeing the way telling the truth is affecting the elderly seaman.  At first he's angry and antagonistic, then he's annoyed, then he's caught up in his tale, and finally he finds absolution for some of the things he and the others did to survive.  Really, the scenes between them were my favorites, and I can't believe I'm saying that because that's the part Chris Hemsworth and the tall ships aren't in!  But they were superb.  Whishaw's Melville had just the right blend of curiosity and writerly eagerness at first, changing into a sort of horrified fascination, and ending with a confidence that he had found what he needed.

But anyway.  Good movie.  I love the soundtrack and will probably end up buying it.  Oh!  And Joseph Mawle was in it too!  I love him as Captain Harville in the 2007 Persuasion, so it was awesome to see him aboard a ship, and he had a really nice character.

Also, Chris Hemsworth was wonderful.  Even more wonderful than I'd hoped.  Just so you know.


Is this movie family-friendly?  Um, not for youngsters cuz hello, it's really intense and has some scary stuff too.  Also some old-fashioned cursing sprinkled throughout, including taking God's name in vain.

Once I've seen it again in a few months, I think I will have some interesting thoughts on comparing it to director Ron Howard's other wonderful movie about men surviving an unexpectedly terrifying voyage, Apollo 13 (1995), but for now... if you like Tall Ships, Chris Hemsworth, Ron Howard, or Moby-Dick, please brave the Star Wars crowds and go see this.

26 comments:

  1. I saw the trailer and it looks really, really good . . . but I don't think it's exactly my kind of movie, if that makes sense. Like, I freak out even while watching Captain America films. I can do SOME scary stuff, but this looks like too much for me.

    It's cool how they used Moby-Dick, too! I had to read parts of that for American Lit two semesters ago and it was . . . interesting . . . but also rather boring. I bet the movie is a lot less boring ;-)

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    1. Jessica, it's not like scary scary, it's just... I feared for the characters. Not horror-like or anything. But if the Cap movies kinda freak you, then yeah, might want to steer clear.

      I have never read Moby-Dick, and I've been feeling for years like I really ought to, so now I have a definite reason to! I'm hoping to start it before long.

      And yeah, the movie wasn't boring :-)

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  2. I'm not surprised it's doing poorly at the box office.

    Whaling? In graphic fashion? In our animal-loving society? Right before Christmas?

    REALLY?

    Won't be seeing it. I'd never get those images out of my head.

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    1. Charity, I was actually expecting it to come off way more anti-animal cruelty than it did. Yes, at the end Owen Chase decided not to harpoon the white whale again because it looked him in the eye, and presumably he realized this was an intelligent being and he was never going to take it down with a tiny harpoon anyway or something. It was pretty subtle. I was half expecting it to be "Oh, the poor whales getting slaughtered by the cruel people! Waaaaah!" and it wasn't. I was pleasantly surprised.

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    3. (LOL, I deleted my comment once I woke up more this morning and realized -- duh, I was just repeating your initial point!)

      I can't watch anything where animals are butchered. I just... can't. It makes me hate the human race.

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    4. Charity, I understand. Things like whaling and buffalo hunting bother me deeply too -- such wasteful destruction of an animal. I have no problem with killing animals for useful reasons, like food, but when it's just, "Oh, we want this one thing and then we'll discard the rest and not care that we're depopulating an entire species," I'm angry.

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  3. Star Wars doesn't interest me but this one sound like it might.

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    1. This review was a lot better recommendation than most of the Star Wars reviews I've read!

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    2. Have you seen this SW7 review? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBMW3y86cpo

      If you haven't, I'd definitely recommend it: It's completely spot-on and also as spoiler free as is humanly possible.

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    3. Carol, then I hope you can see it :-)

      Noumenon, thanks! I haven't read any Star Wars reviews because I'm trying to remain unspoiled, but your comment intrigues me.

      Jessica, I'll try to remember to read that after I see the movie :-)

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  4. I hadn't even heard of this film and then another friend raved about it last week. It obviously was not a bright idea to have it come out when it did as I imagine it would be having a lot more interest right now then it is.

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    1. Lois, my only thought is that either they had more post-filming work to do on the CGI effects (which were spectacular), or else they decided they wanted to be Oscar bait and shoved it back here so it would be fresh in voters' minds during awards season.

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  5. I will definitely put this movie on my list.

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  6. I watched it last week. It was okay. Planning to read Moby-dick next year. Always dreaded that I wouldn't like that book, gotta try reading it now ;)

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    1. Ria, I am right there with you. I've also worried that I wouldn't like it or wouldn't enjoy it, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? I tried reading Moby-Dick when I was between college semesters and decided to put it off until I was older. Well, I'm considerably older now, so I'm thinking it's just time.

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  7. Good review, Hamlette! I was actually pretty interested in this before it came out, but once it did and started getting some not-great reviews I cooled to it a lot. So much so that it not being near Star Wars probably wouldn't have made a difference. But your review makes me more interested again! I really like the cast,(I heard Cillian Murphy was underused though, which makes me sad) so if the story is at all worthwhile I'm sure it'd be worth seeing, and it sounds like it is. None of my family is interested in going to the theater with me to see it, but I'll have to remember it when it makes it to DVD! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. Sarah, I have to admit I haven't read any reviews of it -- I'm woefully behind on my blog-reading. Not-great reviews, huh? Grrrr.

      Cillian Murphy's character is Chris Hemsworth's character's best friend, and he's pretty important to the story, so I'm not sure how people think he's underused. I mean, it's not like he's playing one of the 4 principal characters -- he has more to do than any of the other minor characters, and was very sympathetic.

      So I hope you see it eventually?

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  8. I'm glad to hear you liked it pretty well. Initially I wanted to see it, but I guess I lost my interest after a while, but now I'd like to see it sometime, probably not in theater. I love tall ships. :) Thanks for reviewing :) (I'm punctuating with smileys instead of periods because that's the kind of day it is.)

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    1. Sarah, aren't tall ships wonderful? I have to admit my heart thrills at the sight of them. (And the sight of Chris Hemsworth swinging around in the ratlines was pretty thrilling too...) I hope you can see it at some point! (I like smiley-face days!)

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    2. Yes! Ever since seeing Captain Blood + Pirates of the Caribbean I've wanted to write a story about them. The movie sounds fun, I'd definitely like to see it. :)

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  9. Popping in for one last appearance before the Cinderella party... ;)

    *gasp* This movie looks UH-mazing. And squeeeeeee!!!!!!!! It has Captain Harville in it?!?!? On Board a Ship?!? Now this I MUST see. And I love tall ships and lots of ocean... (I mean, I wrote "Ellen" after all. ;D) Okay, this is officially going on my eventual TBW list.

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    1. Heidi, YES! It is Uh-May-Zing. And Captain Harville is on a ship. I wanted to dance a jig for joy. I think you will dig this, because it's alllll character development and good good good stuff.

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  10. My main disinterest in this is being generally freaked out by movies in the ocean (or more specifically movies featuring large whales). Weird, I know. ;) But I may rent this when it comes out because CHRIS HEMSWORTH. LOL. Glad to know you enjoyed this one, Hamelette.

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    1. Rissi, well, then yes, probably not for you, as it's basically all on the ocean or about the ocean. But... Chris Hemsworth. I will watch nearly anything for him. (NEARLY! Chris, you need to stop making really stupid movies, okay? Just silly ones like The Huntsman are okay, but no more with the cameos in unwatchable comedies. Please, be kind.)

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Agree or disagree? That is the question...

(Rudeness and vulgar language will not be tolerated.)