The Movie: 7/10
I enjoyed it. Into the Heart of the Sea is one of those movies based on something literary, which was based loosely on something that might have possibly maybe happened such a long time ago that no one will ever know for sure. On that foundation I think this film does an OK job of bringing its own point of view to an old tale and, as I said a couple of sentences ago, I enjoyed it.
What I didn’t enjoy, let’s cover that first. The special effects, green screen, stunts, etc. are often of the quality that causes me to blur my eyes, roll my eyes around to avoid parts of the screen, or just wrinkle up my nose and wish it was better. It’s a big story on the open sea so we all understand what that should look like. This is a kind of romanticized view, a bit muddied, and it has what we call the Martha Stewart glow. You know the one, it’s like someone smeared a light layer of Vaseline on the camera lens. It is distracting at the most action packed moments which is annoying. I understand there are limitations in the world of film making. The thing is, if we have Avatar, an ENTIRE world created in CGI, why can’t a whale exist with real live actors and there not be a serious muckiness about it? Mr. Howard, get some new reading glasses.
That’s about all there is that I didn’t like about the movie. The story is good, even if it’s not what you think it will be. We don’t just go on the Moby Dick adventure. It’s all about Herman Melville interviewing a man who survived the alleged encounter with the giant white whale. So, that old sailor tells Melville the tragic yarn while the writer confesses he fears that his writing will not move forward without this book he’s about to write. So, it’s not just a big whale sinking a ship, but it’s framed with another character study. I don’t always like that kind of trick of storytelling, but in this movie it works.
The performances worked just fine. There is some cringing at Thor’s accent, but other than that everyone convinces me of who they are supposed to be. I think my favorite person is Cillian Murphy. He doesn’t have a huge role in terms of lines or screen time, but he does a great job of portraying his character’s place in this sailorific legend. It’s one of those projects that brought the cast to lose a lot of weight, to be working under those oh-so-Hollywood-stressful situations like being on the sea and whatnot, so you do get a certain grit at times from them all. It is ever-so-slightly softened, but hey it’s Richie Cunningham at the directing helm, so we have to expect a bit of a more idealistic approach.
Into the Heart of the Sea is one of those epic tales that feel exciting and powerful at the time, but soon after watching it you feel a bit empty. It’s not got a lot of guts or big hero moments really so even though it’s well made (for the most part) and has a decent story or two to tell, it doesn’t have that UMPH that makes me think about a movie over and over and over.
I recommend it on a rainy Saturday afternoon with a big bowl of popcorn and a blanket, but be sure to have Jaws waiting in your queue to watch a different kind of watery tale that WILL stick with you for a while:)
- Ron Howard Captains Log (16 Minutes) – Ron Howard is a big fan of making a diary of his film productions. Here he uses Twitter and Instagram to catalog the great moments during the making of the film. You can follow him @realronhoward on twitter.
- Island Montage (3 Minutes) – Exactly what the title says.
- Deleted & Extended Scenes (45 Minutes) – So much was cut from this film it’s a joy to see it all here on the Blu-Ray. Like Creed last week these scenes actually make the film better. If you left this film disappointed these might change that opinion.
- Lightning Strikes Twice: The Real Sequel To Moby Dick (30 Minutes) – A nice documentary that looks at a team who look for wreckage from the ship. Lots of cool underwater photography and the story of what happened after the Essex disaster.
- Chase & Pollard: A Man Of Means And A Man Of Courage (7 Minutes) – A quick comparison/contrast peice that evaluates the two men in the movie.
- Whale Tales: Melville’s Untold Story (9 Minutes) – A look at how the film connects to the book Moby Dick.
- The Hard Life Of A Whaler (9 Minutes) – One of the best featurettes here as we look at what it takes to be a Whaler on one of these massive ships.
- DVD & UV Digital Copy
Cover Art and Menus: 4/10
Hmm it’s a boring cover that I would not have as a poster.
Audio & Video: 7/10
Shot Digitally by the DP behind Slumdog Millionaire, In The Heart Of The Sea is a good-looking film despite the overuse of green screen shots. This 1080P AVC encode is good but not great, lots of fine detail and impeccable black levels give way to some banding and ringing due to the lack of bit rate. Watch the opening sequence while the narrator talks and you will see a massive ringing pattern around the water due to the lowish bit rate. Howard uses a lot of weird color correction here as well so some shots come across unnatural looking by design.
In The Heart Of The Sea comes home with a Dolby Atmos track that is easily one of the best this year. Thumping bass from the waves of the sea and the calls of the Whales. Surround is used at all times and often you feel like you are on the ship with these hardened Whalers. The Orchestral score by Roque Banos is also memorable and swells at just the right moments. This is an impressive soundtrack that makes the movie a lot more enjoyable than it actually is.
Overall Score 7/10