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IN THE HEART OF THE SEA
3D Blu-ray Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy, Tom Holland, Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson
Director: Ron Howard
Audio: Dolby Atmos 7.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 122 Minutes
Release Date: March 8, 2016

Say you’re scared!”

I will not.”

Film ***

In the Heart of the Sea represents some of the biggest scale filmmaking to ever come from director Ron Howard. It’s been a very long time since Herman Melville’s classic story Moby Dick has graced the big screen. This isn’t exactly that story, but rather the one that inspired it.

The film details the final sea voyage of the ship known as the Essex. The final surviving member of the crew, Tom Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson), tells the story to a young Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw). At the time, Nickerson was just a young boy.

The tale of the voyage turns out to be a tale of two iron willed men aboard the ship; Captain George Pollard (Benjamin Walker) and an expert whaler by the name of Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth). Promised a ship of his very own after his previous voyage, Chase gets shafted by his employer and finds himself as first mate under the inexperienced Pollard.

Needless to say, the two eventually clash on more than one occasion. It becomes so intense that Pollard willingly drives the ship into a storm simply to illustrate who is in charge on board the ship. Added to on board troubles, it becomes apparent that the targeted whales have become immensely scarce at sea.

When breaking to a nearby island, they come across a French captain who tells of an area of the Pacific Ocean that is practically flooded with whales. The only catch is that there also lies in the same area a certain deadly white whale, one responsible for destroying the Frenchman’s ship and also taking one of his arms away. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and the Essex crew proceeds to deadly shores.

Though the movie itself tends to be a bit uneven at points, it’s more than made up for with sequences of pure white knuckle tension, especially once the men are confronted with the beast of the sea. Director Howard also incorporates several tremendous underwater sequences that really add a lot, especially in 3D. And the film itself is thoroughly beautiful to look at, with images that will stay with you long after it’s ending point.

In the Heart of the Sea is a beautifully crafted piece of filmmaking from Ron Howard, who still knows how to make a piece of top flight mainstream entertainment!

Video ****

Considering the film wasn’t shot in 3D, I was caught by surprise at how amazing the 3D visuals are in this presentation. The underwater shots, especially, are remarkably impressive in all around depth and detail. On top of that, the cinematography shines tremendously as countless shots of the Essex sailing alongside the beam of the sun leave you absolutely awestruck. A first class Blu-ray presentation from Warner.

Audio ****

The tension escalates even further thanks to a spectacular 7.1 Dolby Atmos mix. The sound environment associated with being on a ship at sea is captured in beautiful riveting form. And the numerous scenes with the Essex going up against the whale provide some truly show-stopping moments. Dialogue delivery and music playback are both handled in top notch quality.

Features ***1/2

Warner does themselves proud with a nicely loaded Blu-ray release. All of the extras can be found on the 2D disc, starting with Ron Howard’s Captain’s Log, which is broken into ten segments and follows Howard’s production via photos and tweets he sent out while filming. Additional featurettes include “Chase and Pollard: A Man of Means and a Man of Courage” (a close up look at the two lead characters), “Whale’s Tales: Melville’s Untold Story” (cast and crew reflecting on their experience reading Moby Dick), “The Hard Life of a Whaler” (details what it was like to be in the profession) and “Commanding the Heart of the Sea” (a look at the effects work). Perhaps the most fascinating extra of the bunch is “Lightning Strikes Twice: The Real Life Sequel to Moby Dick”, which is almost a half hour look at what happened to Captain Pollard following the encounter with the whale. Rounding out the package is 20 minutes worth of Deleted Scenes.

Summary:

Ron Howard scores yet another fantastic technical achievement with In the Heart of the Sea. This is a pure visual feast if there ever was one, and is a must see for adventure and 3D enthusiasts!

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