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In the Heart of the Sea

  • Film
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
in the heart of the sea

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

When Chris Hemsworth starts waving his harpoon around, this lively tale of eighteenth-century whale-hunters is hard to resist

‘Have ye seen the Great White?’ ‘Aye, Cap’n, he’s right there, clambering up the rigging with his shirt off!’ This salty seagoing adventure – based on the true(ish) story that inspired ‘Moby Dick’ – may sell itself as a ‘Jaws’-in-pantaloons tale of historical animal horror. But the real star of the show isn’t a CG whale but Chris Hemsworth’s strapping six-pack, as he rampages about the high seas harpooning everything in sight.

In adapting the legend of the Essex – a Nantucket whaling craft that foundered in the Pacific after a run-in with a particularly aggressive leviathan – Ron Howard clearly thinks he has a story that will appeal both to history buffs and action-movie enthusiasts. So he’s steeped his film in period detail – maritime command structures, sailors’ legal obligations, the price and importance of whale oil – but is perfectly happy to drop all that at the first chance of a good, manly, hull-splintering set piece.

It’s a strategy that doesn’t always pay off. The dramatic scenes feel a touch overcooked, and there are moments where it feels like a particularly high-end school play, with everyone shouting ‘avast!’ and ‘ahoy!’ like they really, really mean it. The action, though, is consistently impressive: when man and beast go toe-to-tail, your timbers will be well and truly shivered.

Tom Huddleston
Written by
Tom Huddleston

Release Details

  • Rated:12A
  • Release date:Saturday 26 December 2015
  • Duration:121 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Ron Howard
  • Screenwriter:Charles Leavitt
  • Cast:
    • Chris Hemsworth
    • Cillian Murphy
    • Brendan Gleeson
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