Hear of the seas

Most people know the story of Moby Dick, but what many of those people don’t know is that the tale is based on true events, This adventure is finally being told by Oscar winning director, Ron Howard. It’s called “In the Heart of the Sea” and it opens today, December 11. The movie was shot using 3D cameras and the difference between using the real equipment vs. doing some cheap conversion (I’m looking at you, Disney) is quite evident.

Herman Melville is seeking out help for his new novel. He heard rumors of what happened to the whaling ship, Essex, but he needs to get the true facts from Tom Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson) the last know survivor. His story of the “devil” the Essex encountered will be one Melville won’t soon forget.

“In the Heart of the Sea” marks the first time Ron Howard entering the realm of 3D filmmaking. Perhaps he was just waiting for the right project. Not only does he take full advantage of the format, he delivers some shots that have not been seen in a 3D movie before. What he does can best be described as POV 3D. An example is he will place the camera as if it were tied the ship mast looking up or down, so we see this long object that gives the audience a complete depth of field where action takes place in the foreground of it and the background. Usually a 3D scene is presented so our eye can wonder all over the place, a director rarely take control of our eye line and in this case it’s quite effective.


The rest of the 3D is great too and well worth the extra admission price. You can really see the difference when 3D cameras are use as opposed to when a studio has their movie converted to 3D during post-production in hopes to make an extra buck. Even a shot of someone standing around looks good and you can only imagine how the whale hunting scenes turn out. It’s as if you are along with the crew on the ocean.

An interesting question to ask is whether a movie like “In the Heart of the Sea” can work with a 21st Century audience. Whaling was a acceptable part of life in the 19th Century. It was how we obtained oil. Today, most people find the hunting of whales appalling. There are scenes where the crew are harpooning the parent while its pod swims besides it. Are we going to feel sorry for these men when one of those whales fights back?

Ron Howard does a good job with casting. At no point while watching Chris Hemsworth do you think, “Hey, that’s Thor.” The most noteworthy performance comes from Brendan Gleeson who plays old Thomas. That’s another aspect of the movie that’s pretty unique. Most of the time when this kind of movie is told, when someone is telling a story, we see them at the beginning, but don’t see them until the end. Here, the story frequently returns to Thomas and Melville as a personal story unfolds there.

The biggest aspect lacking in “The heart of the Sea” is a connection with the characters. Since many of us are likely to side with the whale, we are not as emotionally attached to these people as the story would want us to be. The special effects are good, but not as mind blowing as you would expect from a movie of this magnitude. It is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and peril, brief startling violence, and thematic material