The classic novel Moby Dick, written by Herman Melville, is just one of those stories that nearly everyone knows. It has been brought to both the big and small screen many times, and of all of these the 1956 version starring Gregory Peck in the role of captain Ahab, is the one that springs to mind the most. It has always been a tale that was fascinating to watch, but having seen so many versions of it, one can say that enough is enough. When I first saw the trailer for the Ron Howard film in the Heart of the Sea, I thought exactly that. But this movie is not another version of Moby Dick, but rather tells a completely different story.
The movie is based on a real story and follows writer Herman Melville, and how he came by the inspiration for his beloved novel. Herman meets up with the last living survivor of the whaling vessel Essex. Having heard rumors that this vessel got attacked by a giant whale, he thinks it to be the perfect background from which he can write his new novel. The last survivor, Tom Nickerson, is at first reluctant to tell his tale. Eventually though he does, and the tale that Tom shares is one of many hardships. Nickerson was just a boy when he set sail on the Essex. The captain of the ship, George Pollack and his first mate Owen Chase, were not the best of friends. When the vessel eventually reaches the territory of the whales, both men will be put to the test. For what they encounter is something they have both never witnessed before. The quest for survival is on, and in order to survive, the entire crew might have to do things that they never thought themselves capable of.
Ron Howard nearly always impresses me with his films, and In the Heart of the Sea is no exception. The real life story of the fate that doomed the Essex is brought to life in a very good way. The tale is being told in series of flash backs, as the older Tom Nickerson, a role played by the wonderful actor Brendan Gleeson, recounts his story. It does not lay the focus on how the whale eventually attacks the Essex, but rather what ordinary men do to survive in the most extreme of circumstances. Both Benjamin Walker, playing Pollack, and Chris Hemsworth in the role of Chase, do a very good job in portraying their characters and what motivates them. One minor thing that costs the movie some points is the use of CGI. At times, especially when the men are rowing in longboats chasing the whales, it becomes very clear that is the work of a computer. Above all however, this is a classic adventure movie, and one that I highly enjoyed.
I give this movie a 8 out of 10 score.