Review: ‘In the Heart of the Sea’

in the heart of the sea review

What is the true story that inspired the myth? This is the question In the Heart of the Sea tries its hardest to answer, at the expense of something perhaps deeper that could have been explored within the true men who sailed the ill-fated Essex.

Strangely, the film expects you to have some previous knowledge about this tale of survival, as it eliminates its own suspense by starting with the premise that at least one person made it out of this story alive. There’s a better story in here about whether or not the cabin boy is the one telling the truth by the end of it all, but the movie trades this intrigue for something as emotive and tragic as Titanic.

The problem is that actually being familiar with the Essex story makes In the Heart of the Sea difficult to swallow, considering how far off this retelling of the book of the same name is from what truly happened during this 19th Century disaster.

To make up for this, the movie presents much of its biggest moments as art, with matte painting backgrounds and an attention to sprawling ocean vistas that spell doom for the sailors. But hardly anything pictured onscreen is believable, especially compared to most modern CGI in 2015. You’ll quickly lose interest in which backgrounds are somewhat inspired and which are purely green screen.

Some of the best scenes involve the actual whaling, a practice that is hard to watch, which makes it that much more entertaining. I shuddered (but couldn’t stop watching) when the cabin boy had to slide down the stomach of a rotting whale in order to gather the valuable blubber that felt worthless, which serves as some excellent foreshadowing.

In the Heart of the Sea is certainly passable when demonstrating the mighty themes of man versus nature. Much of this is compelling and will cause pause for anyone reflecting on the fact that these events weren’t all that long ago, and the lengths men went to for the sake of short term wealth certainly didn’t pay off the way they expected. When honor trumps the grotesque bond formed in cannibalism, that’s how you know you’ve watched a movie that is missing a few crucial scenes that tell a more interesting story.

Grade: C

Extra Credits:

  • My bias might come through here, but I’ve found the work of Ron Howard pretty unambitious, discounting any of his work from the early 90s. He’s certainly good at what he does, but I can’t shake the feeling that he was destined to be better.
  • Between this and the underwhelming Blackhat, 2015 hasn’t been a banner year for Chris Hemsworth, even if you loved Age of Ultron as much as I did.
  • I hate when other people do this, but…read the book. It’s better.
  • I forgot to mention that the cabin boy is played by Tom Holland, AKA our future Spider-Man. Along with Cillian Murphy, this movie is a superhero fan fiction waiting to happen.

This week on the podcast, Kayla and I talk about In the Heart of the Sea at length. Spoilerish alert: she’s not a big fan either.

Since the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is less than a week away, we discussed and ranked all six movies. Plus, we made pizza bets over whether or not The Force Awakens will become the highest-grossing movie of all time.

Later on, we read your comments from last week’s show and get lost in a wilderness of tangents.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: (Two this week!) Do you think The Force Awakens will topple Avatar as the biggest movie of all time? Also, what are some classic movies you’ve never seen before? Now’s the time to get this off your chest.

Let us know your thoughts (and your favorite podcast moments) in the comments, which we may read on next week’s show! And be sure to rate the podcast on iTunes and/or Stitcher, where you can also download this episode. Or just Tweet us…@NowConspiring

Our Song of the Week is “Overnight,” the latest single from The Wild Feathers. Their new album, Lonely Is a Lifetime, releases next March. Enjoy!

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13 Replies to “Review: ‘In the Heart of the Sea’”

  1. I don’t think it’ll surpass Avatar, but I think it has a good chance of beating Titanic. Either way, it’ll be the highest grossing movie of 2015 and the highest grossing Star Wars film.

  2. Star Wars VII will beat Avatar only if it’s great (I’m talking 85-100% on Rotten Tomatoes)
    I think it will defeat Jurassic World’s upset run as the highest grossing run of 2015 though.

    • I heard enough. Overwhelming praise, around 99% on rotten tomatoes (As far as early reviews are concerned). Star Wars will DEMOLISH Avatar for #1 ever.

  3. I think The Force Awakens will probably beat Avitar. It’s a Star Wars movie, it’s the first Star Wars movie since 1983, and it’s going to be epic.

  4. I think the Force Awakens has the potential to beat out Avatar especially with how quickly the tickets are selling online, but I’m afraid it might fall short. It’s gonna be close, but if I have to pick I’ll say Star Wars makes it out on top. There are a number of classics I haven’t seen yet: Saving Private Ryan, Gone With the Wind, The Godfather, and oddly enough I’ve seen Jaws 2 and 3, but not the original. I also only just saw Terminator for the first time a little while ago and I feel inadequate for having not seen it sooner considering the first thing I ever said was “I’ll be back”

  5. I definitely think that Star Wars will overpass Avatar, especially with the online sales. Now, I there are a lot of classics that I haven’t seen because I haven’t had time. Terminator and Matrix are just two.

  6. Star Wars will gross 2.5-2.6 billion, most likely. People forget that only a handful of movies have EVER passed 2 billion. Even fewer have been Disney movies.

    • You win best commenter name in the history of the internet.

    • Right now, only 2 movies have ever reached 2 million and James Cameron directed both. Titanic and Avatar. I think Star Wars will reach 3 billion dollars at most.

  7. Hello again, conspiracy can openers. I am absolutely overjoyed that so many of you adore 9 just like me and can’t wait to hear Kayla’s thoughts. I am also glad that I remind you of Wade Watts, and I will have to show you my face at some point, smoldering like Flynn Rider. I must admit, however, that I am slightly hurt that this guy Jake has taken my place as the MVC just because of his/her name. MVC means most valuable commenter, for you layman out there. I mustn’t dwell on this, though. In more cinematic news, there are a handful of movies that I feel guilty for having not seen, not the least of which is Casablanca, which I think about watching every day, and never do. I would have said Citizen Kane, but I finally saw that a few weeks ago and loved it. This week, my Netflix recommendation is The French Connection, a movie that many of you conspiracy carrot cakes have apparently never seen. If you are going to watch it, though, watch it with a high level of investment and devotion. Don’t watch it casually or it won’t seem that good. Farewell, and next time you walk by a church, ask if you can rent out the building on Thursdays to make an awesome man/womancave.

  8. I do think that Star Wars will surpass Avatar. There is a lot of hype and it will draw a lot of newbies the first two weeks. In addition, there might be repeat viewings of the movie.

  9. Star Wars is so popular nothing even the Avatar movie will stand a chance. Now as for a classic I’ve never seen. I have to admit it is Pinnochio. Or however you spell it.

  10. Two classic movies I have never seen is Bambi and E.T. I honestly don’t know why so please don’t ask/hate me. Also I think Star Wars will definitely be the second biggest movie ever. I don’t know if it will be bigger than Avatar though.

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