In the Heart of the Sea

First slide

The real-life events that helped inspire Herman Melville's classic 1851 novel Moby-Dick become the basis for a polished and exciting adventure directed by Ron Howard. As the novelist (Ben Whishaw) interviews the last survivor (Brendan Gleeson) of an ill-fated 1820 whaling expedition out of Nantucket, Massachusetts, the old salt (played in youth by Tom Holland) reluctantly reveals the tragic consequences that resulted from the rivalry between his vessel's aristocratic but inexperienced captain (Benjamin Walker) and its veteran first mate (Chris Hemsworth), a feud which led to the ship's disastrous encounter with a leviathan of vast proportions and unusual ferocity. While it falls short of its own sublime ambitions, Howard's film is visually striking and generally absorbing as it weaves its tale of hubris and greed, deprivation and determination. And a light touch is maintained in its incidental treatment of religious and environmental topics. Despite some grim plot developments, this adaptation of Nathaniel Philbrick's history text, published in 2000, will make fit and even valuable fare for most mature adolescents.

Watch out for: Much stylized seafaring violence with brief gore, mature themes, including cannibalism and suicide, a fleeting bawdy image, about a half-dozen uses of profanity, a single crude and several crass terms.

Rated: A-III, adults; MPAA: PG-13, parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015