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IN THE HEART OF THE SEA

year: 2015 cast: Chris Hemsworth, Brendan Gleeson, Tom Holland, Cillian Murphy director: Ron Howard
The movie JAWS, while based on a novel by Peter Benchley, was inspired by MOBY DICK. Probably not the John Huston 50's motion picture as opposed to the novel by Herman Melville. And some of the best scenes during the first half of IN THE HEART OF THE SEA, all of which literally inspired Melville to write his epic, timeless classic, are very similar to the Steven Spielberg film where a 25-foot Great White Shark is being hunted by while hunting... well that's another movie. This one flashes from the "present" time as the young, almost-famous and partially established author is listening to a tale by one of the survivors of a doomed expedition that occurred in 1820, beginning in thriving port town Nantucket, Massachusetts. 

Moby Dick by Melville
Years before oil was discovered spouting from the Earth, it was taken from whales. And although both oil itself and whale-hunting aren't exactly a beloved subject for Hollywood (or the latter for most people), we're assured it was quite normal... for its time. Although there are scenes when the young version of Brendan Gleeson's storytelling Tom, played by future SPIDER-MAN Tom Holland, and his mentor, First Mate Owen Chase, headlined by current THOR Chris Hemsworth, feel quite sorry for the beasts: Owen's not a Quint nor is he the Quint-inspired Ahab... and that's part of the problem. Neither the classy and completely outclassed Captain George Pollard, his more experienced First-Mate, or anyone else on board do more than stare awestruck at or tremendously fear the biggest of the Sperm Whales that, like JAWS itself, is a revenge-driven sea-stalker that won't let up... only without eating his prey.

Director Ron Howard uses a lot of CGI to set the canvas, yet there's a suspenseful, realistic quality to the scenery, overall, especially during the first hunt on a lesser whale on smaller boats from the main ship. That's when the characters know exactly what they want, and set out to get it. But during the very long second half, a sort of ALIVE at sea as the men slowly either die or survive tortuously... the whale representing a sporadic reminder of their sins... the movie sinks altogether. And that's why Melville invented Ahab: every adventure needs some sort of colorful antagonist/instigator to make it shine, and give it punch and purpose. Just try to imagine Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss without Robert Shaw during the third act of JAWS and, there you have it. 

RATING: **1/2
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