REVIEW: In The Heart Of The Sea (2015) - ManlyMovie

REVIEW: In The Heart Of The Sea (2015)

heartseahemsworthYou can always find room for a good man versus beast feature.  Some of the best are from the ’50s and ’60s, at the height of animatronics   You know, back in the day when craftsmen cared about putting effort into making things look realistic, even if the end result didn’t look totally convincing.  It’s sad to see director Ron Howard who came out with great movies like Apollo 13 and Cinderella Man come out with lazy stuff like this, especially when he had a fairly decent cast.  Rarely does CGI go beyond bloated annoyance to complete ruin, but this movie is an example.

It’s the 1820s and whaling vessel The Essex sets out to retrieve 2,000 barrels of oil, the type extracted for whale fat to light cities, grease machinery etc.  Brendon Gleeson is a survivor of the disaster that befalls the ship and recites the events to a news reporter by candle light years later. Then we glance back and follow the ship as it departs with the quarrelling Chris Hemsworth, First Mate of captain Benjamin Walker.  As their mission proves near fruitless, they opt to head further into the unknown and it is there they are accosted by a 100 foot whale, Jaws’ Andre The Giant cousin, who has a penchant for head butting boats until they sink.

On paper this movie probably sounded great.  A survival epic tooled up for proper actors such as Cillian Murphy in the capable hands of Ron Howard.  And it does make for a nice manly story, survival, all hands on deck, a killer fish the size of a submarine.  It should have been a nice counterweight to the vacuous superhero quagmire we’re currently in.

Instead, In the Heart of the Sea is one of the single worst offenders of corner cutting movie fakery in living memory. A movie like this is going to live or die on how immersive it is.  Do we feel the crew’s isolation, do we fear what lurks beneath like we did in Jaws?  Absolutely not.  The backgrounds are all totally fake, you have a bunch of men standing on a makeshift ship deck in front of a green screen and it’s patently obvious, destroying all atmosphere.  What makes this worse is that when you create a computer generated reality (not to mention being stalked by a computer generated fish, far worse than a rubber fish), you must also simulate lighting.  In this movie, the lighting looks even worse than the backgrounds, completely synthetic.

Multiple times the cast are clearly in a tub, indoors filled with fresh water as electronic lights shine down from awkward angles.  It’s clear as day for everyone to see.  Sometimes it looks like they’re standing on ground as water is filled to their chests, despite the story having them swimming in the South Atlantic.  Even scenes set on land have near-laughably awful fake hillsides and computerized light beaming in from doors and windows.  It’s a nasty precedent to set if people just let this kind of film making continue without criticism.

A good example of how insulting this is, is that several times as the ship pitches up and down, the shadows move with it on the deck.  It doesn’t happen often, but it caught my attention and it’s unforgivably lazy.  As in, if we try to take that seriously, the sun moves in the sky, as the ‘deck’ is moved up and down with studio lights presumably attached to it.

If you’re willing to ignore the horrific otherworldly computerized ocean and the fact that the cast seems to be aware of how weak the movie is, maybe some people could find this yarn ‘average’. Not me, a generous four.





  1. jim

    December 24, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    It’s Ron Howard.He is a wuss.A movie likes this needed a John Huston type.I love his version of Moby Dick in the fifties.No John Huston types around today.Peter Weir comes fairly close with Master & Commander. The old school had it’s share of literate intelligent tough guys who were also men of the world. That Hemingway generation.You can’t make men out of boys raised on tv and comics. .

    • Anand Venigalla

      December 24, 2015 at 3:48 pm

      As for great literate men, look at the 19th and 20th centuries. Generally, the vast majority of great writers and literate people were and are men.

      Faulkner, Hemingway, Conrad, Melville, Dickens, Byron, Hugo, Dostoevsky, Cormac McCarthy – these are examples.

      • jim

        December 24, 2015 at 10:18 pm

        Add Conrad and Melville to that list and note that Moby Dick read at just the right age can provide lifelong immunisation against the very worst effluent seeping from the rotten souls of present day hollywood pond scum.

  2. Mucho Macho

    December 24, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    Even though this movie was not great, I saw it on a matinee & I was not bored by it even though what you pointed out is true.
    The movie is somewhat of a good time killer in IMO.
    Hemsworth proves once again nobody will go see a movie of his if he’s not dressed as Thor.

    It’s an OK movie, I wasnt great but i didnt hate it. if you got some time to kill I guess it will do in my opinion. but is not a movie I will see time and time again

  3. Mucho Macho

    December 24, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    Mel Gibson was boss in Ron Howard’s “Ransom”

    • Andymovieman

      December 24, 2015 at 11:30 pm

      Kurt Russell was too for backdraft and michael Keaton for gung-ho and the paper and tom hanks for Apollo 13 and the davinci code movies when it came to ron howard

      • Mucho Macho

        December 25, 2015 at 12:16 am

        Backdraft & gung -ho were cool.
        The Paper is a bit undervalued IMO but i liked the movie
        Apollo 13 was great & the DaBinci movies were entertaining..they are making part 3 if i’m not mistaken

  4. Mucho Macho

    December 24, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    Today is christmas eve.
    Let’s take a moment to reflect guys⤵

    • Duncan BROcleod

      December 24, 2015 at 9:25 pm

      In addition to the fight that decided the fate of the world.

      • Mucho Macho

        December 24, 2015 at 10:01 pm

        Hahaha..fuckin awesome!

        Is a day..
        When many kick ass things happened..
        That united us forever..
        Through adversity we bonded..
        Wether we witness Terrorists in the wife’s work place…
        Terrorist in the Airport..
        Gremlins running wild on a little town..
        Riggs & Murtaugh fighting Gary Busey..
        Or a giant Russian boxer pounding on our national treasure Rocky Balboa…
        Today on Christmas Eve let us cherish, remember and pay respect to those memories that shaped us into whom we are today

  5. ChrisWhite

    December 26, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    This is your typical 6 out of 10 or 3 out of 5 movie. It has some great sceneries but lacka character depth. It desperate tries to cash in on the Moby Dick name but there is no mystique. The plot is predictable and shallow. What saves this movie is that it’s shot Beautiful.
    I would instead recommend the Moby Dick movie with Patrick Stewart and Master and Commander that is a great movie.