Ron Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea is about oil. Not the kind you frack out of the ground but the kind contained in whales, obtained from their blubber. The movie is framed by a conversation between a once-upon-a-time seaman (Brendan Gleeson) and a writer, Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw), anxious for yarn to spin into a novel, Moby Dick. The story we get is about two men, a captain (Benjamin Walker) who has advanced because of family connections and his foil (Chris Hemsworth), more masculine and more experienced and shafted to being first mate for his lack of connections. For half of the film, the drama is driven by the rancor between these two men, whose egos and avarice motivate self-destructive actions that imperil themselves and the crew of the ship. In the second half, the movie shifts from being about man versus man to being about man versus nature. As a PG-13 Ron Howard film, In the Heart of the Sea delivers exactly what we expect: some splendid visuals, an overwrought score, tasteful action-adventure. Arguably, there are too many cuts. The accents, an odd mixture of British and south Boston, are inconsistent and distracting. Even Hemsworth’s gait is awkward. But none of that sinks the movie. The whale does. And it’s a good looking beast.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White