“In the Heart of the Sea” – The tragedy of the Essex is the story of men. And a Demon.

These days seeing a movie based on a book is pretty much the norm. In fact, books are being written almost solely to get a movie made about them. So it’s a little refreshing when a film comes out based on a novel written way before film was even a twinkle in Edison’s eye. “In the Heart of the Sea” isn’t exactly based on a novel, however, but rather the story that inspired Herman Melville to write Moby Dick in 1850. Having just finished it I am happy to report that it was quite the tale, and more than I had expected to get.heart_of_sea_1200_1779_81_s

There are a lot of classic novels out there that every grandparent will tell their grandchildren they should read. I was given Moby Dick at a young age but never actually read it, seeing how I didn’t know what at least half of the words were. I’ve seen a few film representations of the story and they’ve definitely been entertaining, but Ron Howard really latched onto something with “In the Heart of the Sea”. Not just the story of the great white whale, but of whaling men, their camaraderie during tested times, and of the courage they had. The story is obviously similar to that of Melville’s great American novel, but it was acted and directed with precision.

Chris Hemsworth leads the cast as First Mate Owen Chase, of the Essex out of Nantucket in 1820. Rounding out the cast is also Cillian Murphy – a personal favorite of mine, Brendan Gleeson, Ben Whishaw, and Tom Holland. Unless you’re me none of these names probably mean anything to you, but I guarantee you’ve seen these faces before. In fact, Tom Holland is the new Spiderman in the MCU, and he is definitely someone to keep an eye on. Many of these actors are already listed as all-around types and can give amazing performances in just about any role, but Hemsworth really pushed some boundaries here to let people see him as someone other than Thor, and he succeeded. I imagine it’s hard, at least nowadays, to get people to care about a movie taking place in the 1800’s that’s about whaling. Today’s crowd wants explosions, slow motion, fast cuts, and spin around hero shots, none of which are present in “In the Heart of the Sea”. But that’s where it’s great; this film is all story and acting.

I found it very difficult to notice any weak points but then again that’s not something Ron Howard is accustomed to. In case the name isn’t familiar he’s the director behind films such as “Apollo 13”, “Cinderella Man”, and “A Beautiful Mind”. All of that amazing filmmaking is present here as well, making us a part of this voyage and putting us to work alongside these seafarers, something very difficult to do. As the story unfolds we see the strife these characters go through and are reminded that this is the actual story of the men of the Essex, not a fabricated tale by some scribe in Hollywood. The effects bring to life the rush of hunting a whale, as well as the fear of being hunted by one. Watching the men cut, clean, and boil the whale blubber was both gruesome and intriguing to watch, especially when young Tom Holland was shoved into the head of a whale to retrieve the spermaceti oil (oil used to lubricate machinery and create candles). Even though I highly doubt a lot of the film was shot on actual open water, the scenes of them flying over the waves and hurling their harpoons at pods of whales really brings the viewer into the experience. Which makes it all the more exciting when the white monstrosity attacks.Screen-Shot-2015-02-04-at-5.34.39-PM-572x271

Terror for scale.

One last thing I’d like to add to this review is the score. Roque Baños (how cool is the name Roque?) really brought this film to life. There were definite moments that edged on tearful thanks to the score, and of course stood out to me as a big proponent of why the film worked.

DIRECTOR’S CUT: Great film retelling what you know of Moby Dick in an entirely new light. Excellent acting and a heart-wrenching score make this THE film on whaling to watch. That’s also a sentence I never expected to write.

SCENE COLLECTED: [SPOILER ALERT] There’s a great yet sad moment after the survivors land upon a deserted island. Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth) says his goodbye’s to Matthew Joy (Cillian Murphy), a childhood friend and frequent sailing companion. Joy decides to stay behind on the island while Chase leaves with the others in search of rescue. The music and the chemistry is so palpable that it creates this amazing sadness on the screen.



“Perrier’s Bounty” – Blood is thicker than water. Nothing is thicker than thieves.

When it comes to British crime comedies, Guy Ritchie is king. Films like “Snatch”, “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels”, “Rock ‘n Rolla”, and even “Revolver” just can’t be beat. However every once in awhile a little gem pops up that’s worth a watch and a recommendation. 

I vaguely recall seeing a trailer for this film somewhere, and if memory serves I probably thought it looked humorous. Thanks to one of my roommates and his love for small indie films, I recently saw “The Guard”, featuring Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle. If you’ve never heard of it before, it’s an Irish film about a small time cop dealing with a big time group of crooks. Definitely check out the trailer here.

Anywho, “Perrier’s Bounty” has an amazing cast for starters. Brendan Gleeson shines with his deadpan delivery, Cillian Murphy is great in a constant rush which is much different than any of his Nolan roles, and Jim Broadbent is anything but kind, old Professor Slughorn (Harry Potter reference for those of you who have no clue what I just said). Much like one of Ritchie’s films there are several characters, both major and minor, who keep popping up with their own subplots but meet in one big collision at the end. The story follows Cillian Murphy as Michael McCrea, a man who owes money to the wrong guy, Brendan Gleeson’s Darren Perrier. In just one night Michael’s life is threatened, his father (Jim Broadbent) tells him he’s dying, and the downstairs neighbor saves his life mid-breakup hysteria. Toss all of that in a bag with next to impossible to understand accents and a few mild cases of the f-bomb, and you’ve got yourself a movie. It even has it’s bits of drama involved, which is something you don’t usually expect to see in a crime comedy. It’s a good romp; fast-paced and humorous with a pinch of sad here and there. Makes you wonder if these story lines can actually happen to people in real life.

DIRECTOR’S CUT: It’s fun, it’s probably quotable (I couldn’t find any online besides “You’re a dildo, Kenny!”), and it’s off the grid, so people will think you’re cultured if you talk about it.