Wednesday, June 15, 2016

3 Short Paragraphs: In the Heart of the Sea

2015, Ron Howard (Rush) -- download

Whaling. I admit, it's a historical industry I know very little about. Besides the sea shanties I love. Without putting too much thought into it, I always assumed Moby Dick was a British story. Yeah yeah, Herman Melville, great American author who wrote about his homeland and his own life at sea.  Melville based his story on previous accounts of a legendary white whale known as Mocha Dick, and the movie fictionalizes the finding of this inspiration. It opens with Melville convincing an old sailor to recount his time on the sunken whaler Essex, a ship said to have been sunk by an albino whale.

Ron Howard brings back Chris Hemsworth, who previously played Formula One racer James Hunt. Hemsworth is extremely popular as Thor, but surprisingly is well known for little else. Chris plays Owen Chase, the new first mate on the Essex, and is the revered center of the story as accounted by the old sailor. Tom Holland, our unknown new Spider-Man, plays Nickerson as a young man. Hemsworth plays the charismatic, knowledgeable sailor easily but the movie turns too quickly into mirroring the other well known period sailing movie, The Bounty, as first mate goes up against an inexperienced and overly proud captain. But surprisingly, it takes back this focus by having Chase become the man obsessed with catching the white whale. And losing everything because of the obsession.

Howard always directs a rock solid movie. He's got the skill of directing nailed down; even if his movies are not always financial or critical success, you cannot take his ability away from him. But skill doesn't always mean a story is the right one, nor the genre right for the time. This felt like a movie out of its own era, and no not because it's a period movie -- it just felt like it would have done better a decade or two ago. Big, noisy, boisterous period movies full of grand performances and amazing fabricated footage seem out of place in the era of the superhero effects.  I love sailing movies so I fell easily into it, but in the end it didn't stay with me.