Thursday, 31 December 2015

REVIEW - IN THE HEART OF THE SEA (RON HOWARD)


You're stranded at sea for 90 days, countless miles from land and with precious little food and water, and only Chris Hemsworth and his crew of strapping young sailors for company. Do you a) wither away to a bag of miserable, crusty bones, or b) find invaluable ways to pass the time, and ingest some equally invaluable protein? In the Heart of the Sea needed more sex-starved gay characters. Anything to make it more interesting. As trite as it may be to summarise a film by comparing it to two other films, this really is just Life of Pi meets Unbroken, only cheaper, uglier and less entertaining. And the film itself is trite, a collage of substandard writing, simplistic character design and disinterested direction, its finer moments lifted from finer films, its weaker ones too. And all in service of its one and only purpose: watching a big boat torn to pieces by an even bigger whale. This is ostensibly the film's excuse not to bother with any of its other elements, that it might nail these Moby Dick sequences. And Ron Howard, as always only as good as the team he's working with, does a decent job at administering immediacy and intensity in the action scenes, some of which only rendered as such in the technical design. But a decent job isn't what an otherwise dreary film needs, nor what its audience deserves - In the Heart of the Sea lives or dies on the strength of these scenes, and they barely get the blood flowing enough for 90 minutes, never mind 90 days. Anthony Dod Mantle does typically excellent work with his saturated colour combinations, though the overall aesthetic is spoilt by poor visual effects. Other tech creds are mostly only passable at best. And yes, the lack of gratuitous sailors-at-sea sex scenes is a major disappointment.