In the Heart of the Sea (2015) - Review

In the Heart of the Sea (2015) – Review

Review: After a successful clinch in a sport-drama Rush, Oscar-winning director Ron Howard returns with his lately formulaic ‘story of two men.’ Bringing along his Rush star, Chris Hemsworth, Howard takes rivalries in a more remote place, literally in the heart of the sea, in his grand-scaled depiction of the tragedy that inspires Henry Melville’s Moby-Dick—one of the best literature in American history.

In the Heart of the Sea is narrated by old man Nickerson (Brendan Gleeeson) to the author, Melville (Ben Whishaw), who seeks for inspiration for his new book, the eventual nautical hit. The story, told in flashback, revolves around his tenure as a teenage crew (Tom Holland) of Essex of Nantucket, a whaler ship led by noble George Pollard (Benjamin Walker) and first-mate, Owen Chase (Hemsworth).

In a world where oil industry means “Whale hunting”, the ship set sails to offshore to kill more whales and bring home barrels of oil. Little do they know that a mammoth of ocean, the while whale or the Moby Dick is not their match. Crashed and left for dead, the devastated crew sails their grimmest tenure ever.
In the Heart of the Sea (2015): Chris Hemsworth & Benjamin Walker

Ron Howard cannot seem to move on from his recent formulaic ‘love-hate’ relationship between two men with different personality, different background, and slightly similar purpose. The same formula works well with Frost/Nixon and Rush, but In the Heart of the Sea brings the formula to higher stakes. The two men are Hemsworth’s Owen Chase and Walker’s Pollard – two separate poles met at the equator. Their relationship is juxtaposed with Gleeson’s Nickerson and Whishaw’s Melville, which kinda pose as a smaller-scale version of the former relationship.

While the tension gradually raises, the third men – the Moby Dick monster – comes and steals the show. The pre-constructed rivalry formula starts to get blurry as the plot suddenly focuses much on series of men vs whale counter-attacks. The focus shifts, yet the rivalry are existent although only kept at bay. When the survival chapter of the plot is finally explored, not even a shade of the initial conflict got even nudged. Some sub-plots then start to emerge in attempt to add depth to morality of the story, while at the same time, give nods to Melville’s Moby Dick. In much simpler way, Howard’s predestined formula doesn’t seem to work in a survival environment like this.

Inasmuch as I criticized the convoluted plot, I praise the choice to have an observer as a narrator – which keeps everything neutral, maintaining Howard’s signature standpoint within the cause. There are some moments where In the Heart of the Sea tries to re-enact the unabridged version of Moby-Dick’s story-telling, with attention to details of the crew, the whaling, even the classification of whale. However, they all seem to be force-stuffed to the already solid plot – giving no space to breathe.

In the Heart of the Sea (2015)

After all, In the Heart of the Sea still has very gripping visuals, which ensure its grandiosity although the movie falls flat in attempt to create grand epic. From the details of the Essex to the wilderness of the ocean, the short-angle shot of the ship to the massive landscape of nothingness, everything is set to be big. The ensemble of cast led by Chris Hemsworth showcases tooth and nail performance, with Cillian Murphy as my personal favorite; however, their total body transformation never seems enough to make it a “grand” production to be remembered in the future.

As a fan of Ron Howard’s works, In the Heart of the Sea is still a movie that worth the watch, although perhaps the final result isn’t as enticing as his best works. Ron Howard knows how to handle a big movie, but In the Heart of the Sea is just not his class.

In the Heart of the Sea (2015)

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In the Heart of the Sea (2015) - ReviewAction, Adventure, Biography, Adaptation Directed by: Ron Howard Written by: Charles Leavitt, Rick Jaffa , Amanda Silver based on a book by Nathaniel Philbrick Starred by: Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson, Benjamin Walker, Tom Holland, Ben Whishaw Runtime: 121 mins Rated PG-13

IMDb

 


 

Setelah sukses dengan sport-drama, Rush, sutradara pemenang Oscar Ron Howards kembali memakai formula “story of two men” dengan mengajak bintangnya di Rush, Chris Hemsworth. Howard membawa tema rivalitas jauh dari peradaban dalam In the Heart of the Sea—sebuah kisah yang konon menginspirasi Moby-Dick yang terkenal karya Henry Melville.

Cerita In the Heart of the Sea dinarasikan oleh Nickerson tua (Brendan Gleeson) kepada sang novelis, Melville (Ben Whishaw, familiar? Q di SPECTRE), yang tengah mencari inspirasi untuk novel yang nantinya jadi Moby-Dick. Kisah yang diceritakan dalam flashback adalah kesaksiannya sebagai kelasi muda (dibintangi calon Spider-Man, Tom Holland) kapal Essex dari Nantucket yang dikapteni George Pollard (Benjamin Walker) dan awak pertama, Owen Chase (Hemsworth).

Di dunia yang belum mengenal minyak bumi, minyak didapat dari perburuan Paus dan kapal Essex berlayar ke lepas pantai untuk memburu paus-paus malang itu. Sayangnya, para kelasinya tidak tahu bahwa mammoth-nya samudera, paus putih “Moby Dick” bukanlah tandingan mereka. Kandas dan tanpa harapan, tak ada yang menyangka ekspedisi kali ini adalah yang terburuk dalam hidup mereka.

In the Heart of the Sea (2015): Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, Benjamin Walker

Nampaknya Ron Howard masih belum bisa move on dari formula ‘love-hate relationship’ antara 2 pria dengan latar belakang yang berbeda namun 1 tujuan. Formula ini memang sukses diterapkan dalam Frost/Nixon dan Rush, tapi In the Heart of the Sea sedikit berbeda. Kedua pria konstanta-nya adalah Chase dan Pollard; hubungan mereka pun terjukstaposisi dengan kisah Nickerson dan Melville, yang lebih kecil skalanya.

Ketika tensi mulai meningkat, sang pria ketiga dimunculkan (seolah menjadi twist bagi “penebak formula Howard tsb di atas)… sayangnya, sang pria ketiga adalah sang paus putih yang luar biasa. Formula rivalitas pun mulai blur semenjak plot beralih menjadi men vs. whale. Memasuki babak ketiga, plot lebih fokus ke survival, dan di tahap ini konflik yang dipicu formula tersebut tak lagi muncul. Beberapa sub-plot kemudian bermunculan dengan usaha untuk memberi kedalaman moralitas sekaligus “mencoba menjadi Moby-Dick”. Intinya, formula rivalitas Howard tak berjalan mulus dalam environment ini.

Plotnya yang terlalu convoluted adalah sasaran kritik utamanya, namun keputusan untuk menjadikan observer sebagai narator adalah pujian utamanya. Netralitas plot (yang juga diterapkan di kedua film yang saya sebut di atas) pun terjaga, sehingga tidak bias. Memang ada kalanya In the Heart of the Sea mencoba menjadi Moby-Dick—yang terkenal dengan kedalaman cerita, detail tentang para kelasi, proses penangkapan paus bahkan klasifikasinya. Namun, semua hal tersebut terasa cukup dipaksakan, menghasilkan sebuah ironi: film yang “konon” diangkat dari kisah yang menginspirasi Moby-Dick, malah berusaha menjadi Moby-Dick.

In the Heart of the Sea (2015): Chris Hemsworth

Pada akhirnya, In the Heart of the Sea tetap unggul dalam visualnya yang memberi kesan “grand”, meskipun narasinya gagal tampil “grand.” Ditambah dengan ensemble of cast-nya yang penuh totalitas, mulai dari Chris Hemsworth yang mengurus sampai Cillian Murphy yang sangat likable, film ini sukses tampil “besar” meskipun tidak akan terkenang selamanya.

Sebagai fan karya-karya Ron Howard, saya rasa In the Heart of the Sea tetaplah film yang pantas ditonton, meskipun hasil akhirnya tak terlalu mencerminkan karya terbaiknya.


In the Heart of the Sea review is written by Paskalis Damar. Review film In the Heart of the Sea ini diterjemahkan ke dalam Bahasa Indonesia oleh Paskalis Damar.

 

4 thoughts on “In the Heart of the Sea (2015) – Review”

  1. Kemunculan si paus raksasa gak berasa epik. Masih lebih epik kemunculan Godzilla. Tapi bagus dalam hal penceritaan bagaimana mereka bertahan di perahu sampe kurus kering terasa mengenaskan.

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