When you hear a movie is being developed based around the Moby Dick lore, you may not get to excited. Your excitement may have heightened at the announcement of the Chris Hemsworth casting. Now at this point I was already sold, but then the director is announced, and it’s Ron Howard. He is one of the best working directors in Hollywood, and a pairing with Chris Hemsworth already lead to a film in Rush. The performances he got out of Daniel Bruhl and Hemsworth were spectacular. Will Howard and Hemsworth strike gold again?
Gold? Not quite. This is a solid silver medal. The best thing about this film was the visuals. The sight of that wide ocean was just breathtaking. Howard did a good job making me feel the scope of the sea. The whales all looked great, you could tell that it was important to Ron Howard to have them come off as a brute and terrifying force. Once Moby Dick came on screen, you knew it was game over.
The acting is all solid across the board. Chris Hemsworth delivered another strong performance in the lead role. We go back and forth from the time spent on the Essex to the actual Moby Dick story being written. The author Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw) is talking to the only living member of the voyage, Tom Nickerson (Brendon Gleeson). Those are the two surprise performances for me. I didn’t know they were going the route of having the novel written through a survivor relieving his past. Those scenes were just as riveting as the ones on the ship.
That’s really where the problems are for me. There really is no bonding amongst men. They don’t feel like a family. It’s like they are a bunch of guys forced on to this ship to do a job. So when things happen to the other characters it doesn’t hit home.
I think this movie is worth your money at the theater. The visuals alone, the direction, and performance by Hemsworth make it worthwhile. It’s just not the Oscar hit I thought it would be.