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In the Heart of the Sea

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In the Heart of the Sea

Ron Howard (2015)

12 Certificate


Our Score
Ron Howard's broad-brush tale of Nantucket whaleship the Essex, sunk by a giant cetacean in the South Pacific in 1820, might have been an epic on the scale of John Huston's 1956 film Moby Dick. Instead, corporeal threat is sapped by wall-to-wall CGI used to create the sperm whales that draw the ship 1,500 nautical miles from land and the giant white that destroys it. Benjamin Walker's hubristic Captain, Cillian Murphy's teetotal Second Mate and Tom Holland's green cabin boy stand out from the crew, while star Chris Hemsworth's First Mate is bland. It's largely immaterial, as individuals are hard to pick out amid endless water-tank panic and eventual shipwreck. Screenwriter Charles Leavitt's framing device with Moby-Dick author Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw) extracting testimony from haunted survivor Brendan Gleeson offers rare emotional depth. Some of the best visuals - such as the scale of the whale revealed as it passes underwater - are straight out of Jaws, and for all cinematographer Antony Dod Mantle's artistry, endless foregrounded objects in sharp focus are clearly designed to show off the 3D in cinemas, itself a loss of nerve in a relatively slight story.


In the winter of 1820, the New England whaling ship Essex was assaulted by something no one could believe: a whale of mammoth size and will, and an almost human sense of vengeance.

Cast & Crew

Owen Chase Chris Hemsworth
George Pollard Benjamin Walker
Matthew Joy Cillian Murphy
Herman Melville Ben Whishaw
Old Thomas Nickerson Brendan Gleeson
Young Thomas Nickerson Tom Holland (2)
Peggy Charlotte Riley
Caleb Chappel Paul Anderson (2)
Benjamin Lawrence Joseph Mawle
Henry Coffin Frank Dillane
Director Ron Howard
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Other Information

Language: English Colour Theatrical distributor: Warner Bros Available on: Available on DVD and BluRay Released on: 25 Dec 2015

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