Review: In the Heart of the Sea

Who’s the captain now, idiots?

Title card: Nantucket, 1850. Internally: Groaaaannnn. Look, Ron Howard is a Hollywood director of the old-timiest variety, a real-life Peter Pan who got to grow up to make Cocoon, Far & Away and Apollo 13, big adventures with big stars and heart. But he’s also responsible for the Jim Carrey version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, two Da Vinci Code movies and EDtv. You really can’t bank on the Howard of any era, but you know the thing will be a top-notch glossy production. That’s where we’re at with In the Heart of the Sea, a wholly inessential retelling of the story that inspired Moby Dick. (The last version was a 2011 miniseries filmed in Halifax.) Chris Hemsworth lost a bunch of weight to play Owen Chase, a Nantucket whaler who expected to be captain of the Essex but is passed over for a rich guy’s son (typical). The crew is off to bring back as much whale oil as the Essex will hold. Great idea, until they harpoon the wrong one in the face. Who’s the captain now, idiots? The big moral dilemma here is that the sailors are pushed to cannibalism, but this being PG Howard, it’s only ever implied, so its impact is not considerable. It’s worse watching a man chomp into a live fish. In the Heart of the Sea is a big, top-notch adventure story with nothing to say, if that floats your perennial boat.

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