In the Heart of the Sea

Movies , Drama
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In the Heart of the Sea

When Chris Hemsworth starts waving his harpoon around, this lively tale of 18th-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 here isn’t a CGI whale, it’s Chris Hemsworth’s strapping six-pack, as he rampages the high seas harpooning everything in sight.

In adapting the legend of the Essex, a Nantucket whaler 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, arguments over sailors’ legal obligations and the price and importance of whale oil. Still, he’s perfectly happy to drop all that at the first chance of a manly hull-splintering set piece.

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

Release details

Rated: PG-13
Release date: Friday December 11 2015
Duration: 121 mins

Cast and crew

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