Hell on high seas
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