Movie Review: In the Heart of the Sea


I haven't read Moby Dick, and originally I thought this movie was going to be based on the book; however, it's actually based on the real-life events told to the author (Herman Melville), which then inspired the novel. The story follows the story of the Essex, a whaling ship sent to hunt down whales for their oil, and what happens once one of the whales started "stalking" the ship.

The Essex leaves from Nantucket, MA, where we meet our main characters: Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth), who was supposed to be promoted to captain for this trip but instead is First Mate; Thomas Nickerson (Tom Holland), the youngest boy on the ship at age 14; and Captain George Pollard (Benjamin Walker), who gets to be captain because his father has money. Before all this, however, our story starts with "the last remaining survivor of the Essex," who we later find out is an older Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson), refusing to tell his story to the writer Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw). Melville offers him a large sum of money for only one night's worth of his time, and Nickerson's wife (Michelle Fairley) makes him tell the story, since they're badly in need of the money. Nickerson then starts to recount his story to Melville, not sparing any of the gory details.

The story that this movie tells is definitely interesting, although it could have been shorter than two hours, and is a bit slow in parts. Hemsworth does a great job here, as does Walker as the ship's captain; Gleeson, Fairley, and Whishaw round out the supporting cast, including Cillian Murphy, who is also on the ship's crew. As a book blogger as well as a film blogger, I'd be remiss if I hadn't heard of Moby Dick, but I had never heard the Essex's story, so I was intrigued by it; it was a mix of Titanic and Life of Pi, in my opinion.

Yes, see this movie. I was a little disappointed that the screening I attended showed it in 2D, not 3D; it was fine in 2D, but I could see some of the scenes being fantastic in 3D. The survivors of the ship had to resort to some ... unconventional, let's say, methods to stay alive (no spoilers), and Nickerson details all of this when he's telling his story to Melville; because of this, if you have a weak stomach I'd say skip this film. However, the film is definitely worth seeing, and although it's a little slow, it captivated my attention for most of its runtime.

In the Heart of the Sea
is in theaters today, November 4th, and is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 121 minutes. 4 stars out of 5.

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