Hell on high seas

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - WEEK IN MOVIES -

IN THE HEART OF THE SEA (M)

Di­rec­tor: Ron Howard (A Beau­ti­ful Mind) Star­ring: Chris Hemsworth, Ben­jamin Walker, Ben Whishaw, Bren­dan Glee­son, Cil­lian Mur­phy Ver­dict: Where there’s a will, there’s a whale

A LESS catchy, more ac­cu­rate ti­tle for this mopey mar­itime drama is How Moby Dick Got Writ­ten. Yes, this is the true-ish story of how 19th cen­tury au­thor Her­man Melville came to pen his clas­sic novel. Ex­cited much? You may need to get out more.

The book­ends ei­ther side of the wa­tery woes fill­ing In the Heart of the Sea show Melville (Ben Whishaw) cross-ex­am­in­ing an old sea salt named Thomas Nick­er­son (Bren­dan Glee­son). Back when Thomas was but a lad in the 1820s, his first voy­age as a pro sailor was aboard the good ship Es­sex.

A year-long ex­pe­di­tion half-way around the world was the itin­er­ary for this Amer­i­can ves­sel, and the slay­ing of sperm whales for their valu­able oil was the com­mer­cial goal.

As we know from Moby Dick, there will be one par­tic­u­lar whale which will be fight­ing back on be­half of all its blub­bery brethren. We will be see­ing a lot more of it later on (un­for­tu­nately, a lit­tle too late to save In the Heart of the Sea from throw­ing down its an­chor in the port of Dullsville).

Things pick up af­ter we are fully em­bed­ded within the whiskery, ras­cally crew of the Es­sex, and we get to know its strap­ping first mate, Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth).

He will be the nau­ti­cal-but-nice hero of the tale, a stand-up bloke who will be making all the com­mon-sense de­ci­sions once the un­rea­son­able vil­lain of In the Heart of the Sea fi­nally swims into view.

It is a whale. A bloody big whale. A 50-tonne Freddy Krueger which won’t stop un­til it has ev­ery mem­ber of the Es­sex ab­so­lutely scared ship­less.

Af­ter he dive-bombs the ves­sel into match­sticks, the un­lucky sur­vivors are forced into two open lifeboats many thou­sands of kilo­me­tres from dry land. In the months that fol­low, the bel­liger­ent whale stalks its prey all over the high seas.

When­ever the preda­tor takes a breather, what re­mains of the ex-Es­sex team take a long look at their dwin­dling pro­vi­sions, and quickly won­der if can­ni­bal­ism will soon be on the menu. (Spoiler alert: can­cel all plans for that mid-movie trip to the candy bar right now). Af­ter two dreary hours of this – by which time any leer­ing ladies still watch­ing will be hop­ing an ema­ci­ated Hemsworth puts his shirt back on – In the Heart of the Sea fi­nally hits dry land and col­lapses in a state of com­plete ex­haus­tion.

Most view­ers will get to the same place some con­sid­er­able time be­fore. Now show­ing State Cin­ema and Vil­lage Cine­mas

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