In the Heart of the Sea: An Engaging & Expertly Made Retelling of Moby Dick [Review]

by | Dec 13, 2015

Christmas is coming and so is Star Wars, so the timing for In the Heart of the Sea could have been better – it was the only thing that came out this week (at least in Lethbridge).    This isn’t normally the type of movie I’d spend time and money on, but I’m glad I went anyway.  Fair warning, this review might be a bit more spoilery than usual, but if you don’t at least have a passing knowledge of what Moby Dick is about, you kind-of deserve what you get, spoiler-wise.


A recounting of a whaling ship’s sinking by a giant whale in 1820 that would inspire the great novel, Moby Dick.

I see what you’re doing here, In the Heart of the Sea, and I am not fooled.  While this may be dressed as the True Story that Inspired the Book, it’s really just another form of Gritty Realistic Reboot.  Like Victor Frankenstein, I’m not sure that we need to keep rebooting the classics.  At least Moby Dick hasn’t been done to death.  Though had this movie been anything less than technically perfect it would have been a slog – 120 minutes is a long movie.

It was really hard to find good screenshots for this review – everything on google images is some shade of blue.  That’s not really fair to this movie’s visuals, the camera work was amazing.  There were some breathtaking shots but it wasn’t gorgeous scenery -each shot also supported the action and mood of the scene.  I had planned on criticizing the lack of poop in 1950 Nantucket farmsteads (everyone was clean and freshly laundered while working in that muddy farm) but I eventually realized that this was deliberate.  By the end of the film everyone looked like hell, so to establish the healthy baseline in the beginning was a subtle way of increasing that contrast.

seconda-gallery-ufficiale-per-in-the-heart-of-the-sea-le-origini-di-moby-dickIn the Heart of the Sea was the exact opposite of Jaws – at least in how they treated their water monster.  While your own imagination might be scarier than anything a movie might show you, your own imagination is not likely to surprise you.  When The Big Whale showed up, they didn’t keep it a mystery; they showed it and kept showing it.   That whale was awesome and terrifying.  It was something out of Jurassic World and the more you saw of it, the more frightening it becomes.

I forgot that Chris Hemsworth was in this.  My goodness is he ever handsome!  I found his Massachusetts accent a bit distracting but luckily it seemed to fade into unnoticability as the movie progressed.  Still, he was utterly convincing as the First Mate and senior whaling expert on this voyage.  There were so many other good actors who fit their flawlessly – Benjamin Walker as the inexperienced captain, Frank Dillane as the spoiled cousin of the captain.  I could go on, there were so many good performances.

maxresdefault (1)Is this a movie worth seeing?  Yes, definitely, but maybe in the New Year, after the Christmas frenzy has passed and we’re in the doldrums of the post-Star Wars disappointment (or the afterglow of the post-Star Wars Triumph, I shall remain optimistic).  I’ve never seen a movie ‘feel’ more like what being on a boat must actually be like.  I’m sure it bears no resemblance to the real experience, but if they could bottle this and save it for the next Pirates of the Caribbean sequel/reboot, they’ll do very well.

In the Heart of the Sea reviewomatic