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In the Heart of the Sea [2015] is based on the true story that inspired the literary classic Moby Dick and is the latest film from director Ron Howard. The film stars Chris Hemsworth as the first mate aboard a New England whaling ship that sank after a vicious attack from a giant sperm whale.

Typical Howard. There are quite a few things you can come expect from a Ron Howard film: it’s going to be well scored, very authentic, and it’s going to harness some pretty great performances. In the Heart of the Sea does all of this but also happens to have some bizarrely conceptualized visuals and some weirdly misrepresented marketing choices.

A visual exhaustion. If you’ve seen the trailers or any part of the marketing for this film, you might have noticed (how could you not?) the strangely color graded look to the film and it’s unfortunate to say that the entirety of the film is shot in this nature. Because the film is mostly set in flashbacks, I hoped that the film would use this color grade system to tell the story in an interesting way. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. The entire look of the film is shot with a yellow overcast that makes everything seem drab and boring, taking away the sheer scale that the visuals needed. It makes the viewer feel sick at times and honesty; it’s just overall hard on the eyes.

Poorly marketed. In the Heart of the Sea tells a pretty solid and interesting tale of whalers trying to capture oil from the backs of these huge, dangerous creatures and the threat of them is something we haven’t quite seen on screen before. The creatures (when you can actually see them through the murkiness) are actually quite impressive, however, we never focus on them for very long. Beyond the marketing, the film is not really about the whale that takes the ship down. The whale is more of a McGuffin of sorts. The film is really more interested in the men trying to survive the dark and scary sea as they get stranded in the middle of it. That’s something the marketing does not let moviegoers know about; they were told the film was something else than what they were ultimately presented with.

A crew of merry men. Like most Ron Howard pictures, his cast is stocked full of talent, and make no mistake- this film is no different. Chris Hemsworth is fantastic as always, as is Cillian Murphy and Brendan Gleeson. The real take away here though is (future Spider-Man) Tom Holland. He’s very well cast and brings a crazy amount of energy to this pretty grim tale and also helps give us a pretty great sense of adventure and awe while still maintaining a good level of realism to the story.

Definitely not an Oscar contender. Back last February when the original release date was pushed back, I heard many things about this film- some were saying how great it was while others were saying the opposite. Unfortunately, it’s neither. It’s a pretty middle-of-the-road adventure picture. The film has some good casting and good intentions, but due to the missed marketing of the film, beyond the whaling stuff, we got a film that didn’t really need to be told.

This story of survival has already been told before, and sadly, in much better ways.

In the Heart of the Sea
2.5Overall Score
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