NEWBIES: If this is your first trip here (welcome!), here’s the QT on what these reviews are. THIS WEEK: Chris “Thor” Hemsworth becomes Ishmael the Walin’ Man! Herman Melville (Ben “Q” Whishaw) visits Brendan “Mad-Eye Moody” Gleeson, the last survivor of the Essex, a ship downed by a great white…whale to get the full story so he may write future classic Moby Dick (and inspire Jaws). Flashbacks tell the tale of a macho-but-obsessive first mate, a stubborn, rich-and-green captain (Benjamin “Abe Lincoln, Vampire Hunter” Walker) and the boy who became a (tortured) man.
Screenplay by Charles Leavitt. Story by Charles Leavitt and Rick Jaffa &Amanda Silver. (Based on the book In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathanial Philbrick). Directed by Ron (“Opie Cunningham”) Howard.
Good acting all around. Props to Hemsworth for being more than Thor. Captain was typical of his type without being a one-dimensional stereotype. Even though Hemsworth’s accent sounded like a mix between Boston, Brooklyn and England, he gave a really good, believable performance. Tom “Future Spider-Man” Holland as the young Nickerson was great. Even the small part of the old guy’s wife was well-cast and acted. (FROM MIKE: Credit Howard knowing his actors; he usually gets great work from them.)
Visual effects superb. The whales, especially the big bad “Dick”, extremely believable. Though sperm whales are not as scary as great white sharks, the surface markings, coloring and skin of the big baby here definitely looked believable despite its supernormal size. Some truly awesome scenes of whale-scale!
Also kudos the effects of the ship itself. The way it moved, tossed, turned and damaged was…what’s that word? [MIKE: visceral?] Yeah, that’s it. Like you were on the ship and getting tossed around. (I didn’t toss my popcorn but Pascale’s wife jolted in her seat a few times like she was going to fall out of it!) Granted, I don’t know jack about boats or sailing but neither does the average viewer. Looked super-realistic to me.
Same goes for the makeup on the humans. Being stranded at sea for months makes you look like crap and these guys all appeared believably weathered (in other words, reeeeeeally nasty). Obviously there were some concessions for practicality but overall great jobs.
Loved the visuals overall—camera angles, cinematography, that sort of stuff. Same with the sets, locations and costumes—definitely put you in the period of the early-to-mid 1800s. Same with working on a ship. (Even though some of the closeups were pretty gross.)
Educational! I learned that whale oil was the number one heating source in the country before the black gold we use now. Apparently that stuff wasn’t discovered until the mid 1800s. (First commercial US oil well drilled in 1859.)
Deceptive Trailer Warning: The main trailer makes you think this is a cross between The Perfect Storm and Jaws. The storm is about 10 minutes at most. The Jaws part is maybe a third of the flick. It’s more a story of survival at sea like All Is Lost but with more dudes and a whale.
Suspension Of Disbelief Dept.: How exactly do you have over a month’s worth of fresh water for three guys on a rowboat? No beer, either.
Think the crew on Deadliest Catch have it rough? Even those guys are lightweights compared to these whalers. Most of today’s he-men probably wouldn’t last a month at sea doing this job, let alone over a year or more!
Crawling into a dead whale head to get oil. Not a good aroma.
If you’re a member of Greenpeace or Save The Whales or PETA, do not see this. (And don’t protest it either—it’s history!)
Stuck-up rich folks and the whole stupid class system in the 19th century east coast. (“I don’t care how many whales you’ve caught, my family has a big name in town!” Yeah, right.) Whaling company owners were as bad as NFL team owners.
The things you have to eat when you’re stranded on an island—or (especially) at sea. Eeeechhhh. No thanks. At least not without ketchup.
Most average people who don’t read (like me) will think this rips off Jaws, not knowing that Moby Dick was published a century earlier.
I didn’t know what to expect so my expectations were low and I enjoyed it. Half of that was simply the scale of everything and the physical quality of being part of the action, which I don’t think I would have gotten from my TV screen. Unless you have a 65” or larger screen with surround-sound media room, yer probably better off seeing this at the theater. Just make sure you time your snack-eating properly!
P.S.: Pascale still room on the commission list for ONE more piece of art by the end of the year. Get FREE SHIPPING by USING the codeword “Whale.” Offer expires 12/31/15. Just tell Craig here!
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of Wednesday’s Heroes, Mike Pascale, the people of Massachusetts, fishermen, whalers, Asgard, the whale oil industry or Greenpeace. Bru would like a piece of the green made by the oil industry, either whale or shale. He’d use the money wisely for beer and chicks. And one of those cool media rooms so he wouldn’t have to leave the house for these stupid reviews!