Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

'In the Heart of the Sea' Is Rousing and Beautiful

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

'In the Heart of the Sea' Is Rousing and Beautiful

Article excerpt


"In the Heart of the Sea" works as a rousing sea adventure story, the inspiration for "Moby Dick," though it suffers from more grandiose aspirations that largely go unrealized. And some bad Boston accents.

The film makes a half-hearted attempt at a man-corrupts-nature environmental theme, and begins a Christian-vs.-Bligh type of conflict between the ship's first mate and captain, only to drop it halfway through. Based on a nonfiction book by Nathaniel Philbrick, the screenplay by Charles Leavitt has some structural problems, with a big dead spot about two-thirds of the way through.

But director Ron Howard ably helms the action scenes, including the thrilling bout with the massive white sperm whale. And the movie brings a great sense of authenticity about what it's like to be aboard a Nantucket whaling boat in 1820 - the sun-creased faces, the creaking of the sails, the ever-present fear of a squall, the way men's personalities rub against each other after a year at sea.

Howard reunites with Chris Hemsworth, who starred in the criminally overlooked racing movie "Rush." Here he plays Owen Chase, a seasoned whaler who thinks he's in line to become captain, but is instead put under the thumb of George Pollard (Benjamin Walker), a greenhorn with the right family name and financial backing.

As a "landsman," the son of a poor farmer, Chase has had to work his way up from the bottom, and naturally resents the aristocratic captain. Pollard insists on showing the crew who's boss, and nearly sinks the ship on their second day out of port. They spar, but agree to put their differences aside long enough to collect 2,000 barrels of whale oil.

Eventually they make their way into the Pacific Ocean, where they hear tales of a remote spot where the whales are bountiful. The story turns out to be true, but so does the warning of a giant bull who does not take kindly to having his colony attacked.

Their ship, the Essex, is sunk and the survivors are forced to flee on small boats thousands of miles from land, and things quickly grow dire. …

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