In the Heart of the Sea is based off of the true story that inspired Herman Melville to write Moby Dick, one of American literature's greatest achievements. The film was directed by Ron Howard (Rush, Apollo 13) and stars Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson, Tom Holland, Ben Whishaw, and Charlotte Riley.
Herman Melville (Whishaw) is an aspiring author in the 1820's who searches out Mr. Thomas Nickerson (Gleeson), the last remaining survivor of an incredible whaling expedition, so he can learn the true story and translate it into a novel for the world to read. What he learns is an amazing tale of greed, bravery, hubris, and heroism within a voyage led by Captain George Pollard (Walker) and First Mate Owen Chase (Hemsworth).
Ron Howard has proven himself over the years to be a really good director and this movie is another fine example of his abilities. Teaming up with Chris Hemsworth is never a bad idea and this is the duo's second go around after they teamed up for the race car biopic, Rush. This time around, Hemsworth plays a very successful whaler who has risen through the ranks and is on the verge of becoming a captain and Howard surrounds him with a very capable supporting cast that is highlighted by Ben Whishaw of recent Bond fame as Q, Brendan Gleeson, who has been in so many movies recently, and young, up and comer Tom Holland who will soon be joining Hemsworth in the Marvel universe as everyone's favorite web slinger, Spider-Man. Having such a solid and competent cast in place really set the foundation for Howard and allowed him to really go all out in crafting an epic adventure.
From a storytelling perspective, Ron Howard gets just about everything right. Even the biggest action sequences where the giant whale is going after the sailing ships, you believe everything you are seeing thanks to some really great special effects work. Cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, also teaming up with the director again after working together on Rush has turned in some of his best work to date. Every shot is beautifully framed and, even with a bunch of CGI in place, everything feels and looks very real and you feel like you are right there in the boats with the sailors as they are on their adventures. Finally, all the action is balanced out nicely by a very dramatic story that really sheds light on where the tale of Moby Dick and Captain Ahab came from. Using Gleeson and Whishaw in the roles of the older Nickerson and Mr. Melville respectively to discuss the events in question works perfectly as a narrative device and the duo really drive home the emotional impact that the movie is striving to achieve.
In the Heart of the Sea is a very good film that is absolutely worth a look. Great acting, a powerful story, and some beautiful camera work all add up to yet another successful project for Mr. Ron Howard. I did see this film in the 3D IMAX format and was really impressed with the overall quality and is definitely worth the upgrade.