I’m not quite sure what to make of Ron Howard’s latest effort. It tried so hard to be a big emotional tear-jerker but for me, it failed almost completely. It also has an uneven flow, and while I am sure this is a problem for most book adaptations, this lack of flow or rhythm is due to the fact that the whole movie feels pieced together, skipping over anything like character or interesting banter, among other things. It simply jumps from one part to the next with little to connect them. It is very episodic and doesn’t make for the most chronologically cohesive film.
First though let us talk about what the whales looked like. Or more specifically, how well the CGI was used to build them. They looked incredible. In fact, they looked so good that I think the filmmakers spent their entire budget on them, as there are some green screen scenes that look pretty… rushed. This movie’s biggest problem though is the lack of anything interesting happening other than whale attacks.
Apart from these devastating clashes, there just isn’t enough happening to accompany the action. There is no conflict between characters save for one or two very brief moments, and it is hard to feel for characters if they suffer as we simply don’t get to know them at all. Even Hemworth’s main character isn’t a man we get to know well; all we learn is that he has a family and his heritage isn’t upper-class. That about covers it.
Sure, it looks great seeing this giant whale loom over the ship, its tail the same length of the boat. And it is great fun watching the whale essentially becoming a villain, following the boat wherever she goes. This is something that should have drawn dread a la Jaws but it somehow didn’t at all; these moments are actually damned exciting, and for the most part tense and very well shot (apart from the occasional Hollywood technique of stuffing as many different angles into one scene as possible). Again, the reason it doesn’t cause dread is because we don’t know these people at all. Even though it is total carnage these scenes are a ton of fun and the only real reason to see the movie. Is that the reaction they were going for?
The story is told by a survivor, to a man who has heard rumours of the story and is desperate to hear if any of it is true, and if so, to write a great novel. This device of storytelling is done right for the most part, as despite the story being told by a survivor, we are never sure of what will happen next. These scenes also give the character telling the story a personality.
I shouldn’t be disappointed, but I am. There is so much missing; the characters’ personalities might as well have been AI-controlled allies while playing Call of Duty, the script isn’t much more than shouting naval commands over the sound of splashing water, and Chris Hemsworth is so hilariously miscast it threw me off for the first thirty minutes of the movie. Blackhat was one thing, but this? I found it amusing that the photographers deliberately avoided showing his body, as he’d have looked miraculously healthy compared to his friends. We can’t have Thor going on a diet, now can we? In The Heart of The Sea wants to be a heavy drama, but it is closer to a fun filled action flick. Bring the popcorn.
Half a six-pack.
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