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In the Heart of the Sea. Photo: Copyright Warner Bros.
In the Heart of the Sea. Photo: Copyright Warner Bros.

By Megan Bianco

If there is one actor who seems to have been fated with misfortune throughout 2015, it would have to be Thor star Chris Hemsworth, beginning the year with the quickly forgotten Blackhat and then followed up with the disaster reboot Vacation. Even Avengers: Age of Ultron received mixed reactions. Now Hemsworth’s second collaboration with Ron Howard, In the Heart of the Sea, is being ignored by movie fans—most likely due to Star Wars frenzy. Does it deserve the failure as much as the earlier flops? Sort of.

In 1820 New England, avid boatman Owen Chase (Hemsworth) leaves pregnant wife Peggy (Charlotte Riley) for an assignment as first mate of the new whaling ship the Essex. Though he was promised to be the captain, Owen is passed over for George Pollard (Benjamin Walker) due to nepotism. Owen and George don’t see eye-to-eye on the voyage, but Owen befriends teen sailor Thomas Nickerson (Tom Holland) while one big, mean whale causes havoc on the ship.

Ben Whishaw co-stars as Moby Dick author Herman Melville being told the story by a grown-up Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson). One big problem with Howard’s Heart of the Sea is that despite the impression elicited by movie trailers, audiences don’t see nearly enough of the whale. Another is that the characters’ interaction and development seem to be treated as an afterthought—especially evident among supporting roles. The special effects are visually pleasing, but not enough to make up for the lacking structure. Hemsworth plays a decent lead and his performance is entertaining, but this just isn’t his year. In the Heart of the Sea offers an entertaining 122 minutes, just not the meaty story moviegoers have come to expect from Ron Howard.

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