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Film Review: Hemsworth Does Whale of Job in 'In the Heart of the Sea'

by Todd A. Smith


(Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)


Survival of the Fittest


With all of his pop culture popularity and superhero movie roles, sometimes it is easy to forget that Chris Hemsworth is a pretty good actor.

Although he might not receive the critical acclaim that he deserves, he proved his acting chops in “Rush” (2012) and has done it again thanks to a masterful directing job by Ron Howard in  “In The Heart of the Sea.”

The early 1800s were a difficult time for any human being.

Life was tougher.

Work was more dangerous.

And knowledge of the world was not as advanced, obviously, as it is 200 years later.

American cities were trying to put themselves on the map and families were trying to add prestige to their last name through conquest and accumulation.

Owen Chase (Hemsworth) does not come from a prestigious family, but he does have the desire to accumulate wealth to provide a better life for his wife and his unborn child.

Although he comes from a pauper family, the offspring of a farmer turned convict, Chase believes he has paid his dues with the Pollard whale oil company and has earned the moniker of ship captain.

However, cronyism can be a female dog and he is relegated to first mate because the appointed captain of the Essex, George (Benjamin Walker), comes from the esteemed Pollard family.

The Essex is on a mission to capture whale oil, which is a necessity of the time, giving citizens of Nantucket Island the ability of lighting their surroundings.

Despite his supporting role, it is clear to everyone that Chase is the most qualified employee on the Essex and should be captain.

However, ego leads to bad decisions and greed and arrogance leads to near devastation as they encounter a whale too mighty and powerful for even the great Chase to tame.

“In the Heart of the Sea” is told from the perspective of Tom Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson) who begrudgingly tells the story of the Essex to an established novelist Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw) who turns the harrowing tale into the epic novel “Moby Dick.”

As a teenager, Thomas Nickerson (Tom Holland) goes out onto his first whaling mission, which turns into a heroic story of survival, grit and determination.

Howard gets the most out of every member of the cast of “In the Heart of the Sea.”

He depicts the treacherousness of the unpredictable sea.

He depicts the fear gripping the stranded whalers.

He depicts the abominations committed in order to survive.

And he convincingly depicts the enormity of the big sea creatures.

However, it seems like Howard tries to skate over the diversity of the whalers without a mention of their differences.

Although the whalers are all from the North, it is hard to imagine that a racially mixed crew of whalers would get along with each other so well despite racial differences in 1820.

The Black whalers are treated equally as the White whalers, which seems like wishful thinking especially decades before the Civil War.


Nevertheless, “In the Heart of the Sea” will place moviegoers literally in the heart of the sea, and it is a pretty good, if not bumpy ride.






This article was published on Friday 11 December, 2015.
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