Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Review: In The Heart Of The Sea

World of Blackout Film Review

In The Heart Of The Sea (3D) Poster

In The Heart Of The Sea (3D)
Cert: 12A / 122 mins / Dir. Ron Howard / Trailer
WoB Rating: 4/7

Ah, the good old Secret Screening, where a packed auditorium eagerly await the fêted arrival of the BBFC card, even though they've been categorically told that the film won't be Star Wars ;) And what better way to greet the cinematic step-child*1 than with a cropped picture (a 16:9 print projected onto a 2.35:1 screen at full width, meaning the film's subtitles and scene-captions were partially unreadable), and with the 3D being projected through the wrong lens, meaning double vision with or without the glasses (cue a procession of punters trotting out to the foyer for the first four minutes of the film). The 3D was fixed. The cropping wasn't. Neither of those are the director's fault of course, but it wasn't a great start and In The Heart Of The Sea needs all the help it can get…

So, Ron Howard and Chris Hemsworth have teamed up again to make the prequel to Rush, in which James Hunt is racing speedboats instead of cars, except that speedboats hadn't been invented yet so he uses a pirate-ship, and then his crew has a fight with a sea-monster, except they use a big angry whale because Cthulhus hadn't been invented yet, and then they get stranded in a dinghy and there are no more chases or monsters and the movie ends with an internal audit.

Now, this film isn't really aimed at me. The 'true story' behind the novel Moby Dick may well be a tale worth telling, but in all seriousness I think it's more suited to a semi-dramatised documentary, at most. Despite my local's best efforts to the contrary, the 3D in the movie is very active, adding a great sense of depth to the mid-range and tracking shots. However, it's also used heavily in the close-ups and hand-held 'action' sequences, where it becomes more distracting than immersive. The cinematography's beautiful though, with many of the seascapes looking like the real-life iterations of a Turner painting.

On a less technical level, the acting's as patchy as some of the voicework. I do love a good Massachusetts accent; I only wish this film's cast did, too. And there's a surprising amount of ham for a film about a whale, with Hemsworth going full pantomime on several occasions. The larger problem is that I didn't particularly like the film's characters to begin with, and that's before we see them performing the routine actions of a whaling fleet. While these scenes are a moral turning point for the story, it still gave me no great joy to see the crew's subsequent undoing, either. And while I know you can't accurately judge the actions of the past by the morality of the present, am I really supposed to be impressed that a professional whale-murderer develops a conscience about telling fibs to his boss?

Short version: In The Heart Of The Sea is like Life Of Pi, but with Thor and Spider-Man deciding who they're going to eat next.

Look, how can I possibly be expected to concentrate on a film which isn't Star Wars, this week?

Is this film worth paying £10+ to see?
I have no idea. Probably? If you like watching whales being killed?

Well, I don't like the cinema. Buy it, rent it, or wait for it to be on telly?
I should imagine a rental will do you.

Does this film represent the best work of the leading performer(s)?
I'd say not.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
I have no idea.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Probably not.

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
Not that I heard.

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
The film stars Benjamin Walker, who was cast as a young Liam 'Qui-Gon' Neeson (and rightly so, the likeness is great) in 2004's Kinsey.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Oh, don't get all upset if you have step-children; you know what I meant.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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