In the Heart of the Sea 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
I’ll follow Chris Hemsworth anywhere and our latest adventure takes us to the real life story that inspired Herman Melville’s ‘Moby Dick’. Not quite a drama and not really an action movie, IN THE HEART OF THE SEA has several problems that prevent it from ever taking off. But the good news is that Chris Hemsworth is great once again, even if we have to suffer through some overly sappy directing from Ron Howard and an irritating flash-back narrative.
Chris Hemsworth is Owen Chase, a lifelong sailor making a living on whale boats. We pick up with him as he’s about to embark on another year-long whale hunting journey and his first time captaining a boat, or so he thinks. He gets to the boat and learns that the oil company has chosen the wealthy son of one of their owners to lead The Essex. Frustrated but not deterred, Chase agrees to the trip. Not surprisingly, Captain Pollard (Benjamin Walker) and Chase clash immediately. But the two leaders quickly decide to put aside their differences for their mission. Of course, their mission is interrupted when a giant white whale demolishes their ship and leaves them stranded.
The lack of consistent tone in IN THE HEART OF THE SEA was very frustrating. It started out as sort of a Mutiny on the Bounty type story where Chase and Pollard were clashing and the men were weary of Pollard’s captaincy. That gave way to an obsession tale where Chase and Pollard were intent on filling their oil quota. And in the third act, the focus was on the crew’s survival as they were stranded at sea. The infamous white whale didn’t show up until about halfway through the film and even then, the whale wasn’t that big a part of the story and instead was used more like a prop to move the story forward.
People looking for Moby Dick might be disappointed since Moby Dick is a classic tale with rich, deeply flawed characters and a true man versus nature theme. But Sea is more of a survival tale and since the only characters we really knew were Owen Chase and George Pollard, we didn’t really care as other characters started falling like flies. Any movie focused on a character’s survival or obsession with reaching a goal is dependent on the audience caring for that character. Hemsworth is an insanely charming actor and he added a depth to this film that I’m not sure it deserved. As great as he was, Tom Holland might have been the real star of the film. Fans nervous about him wearing the Spidey suit should watch him in IN THE HEART OF THE SEA because he proved to me that he can handle anything Marvel asks of him as Peter Parker.
I feel I’ve turned into a Chris Hemsworth apologizer of late. He’s had a rough go of it when he’s not playing Thor, despite leading a couple of high profile films. But in defense of Chris Hemsworth, two of the non-Marvel films he has led (RUSH and IN THE HEART OF THE SEA) were directed by Ron Howard and Hemsworth was easily the best part of both films. I know I say this every time I review one of his movies, but Ron Howard is a very pedestrian director and the quality of his films is very dependent on how good of a story he’s telling. In the case of Sea, the story just wasn’t there.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: The 4K transfer of IN THE HEART OF THE SEA is a representation of taking the good with the bad when it comes to the new format. The good news is that some of the scenes of the boats on the open seas are just breathtaking. You can see color variations in the sunlight and shadows that just isn’t evident on the Blu-ray release. The bad news is that there are some other scenes, especially when we get closeups on actors in the middle of a CGI-heavy scene, that look really fake. Part of that might be the intentional direction of Ron Howard, but it’s also the downside to the format. If there’s shoddy CGI work, it’s going to be very evident on 4K Ultra HD whereas a Blu-ray might mask some of the CGI problems. That said, I do prefer the 4K presentation of IN THE HEART OF THE SEA, but maybe not quite enough to get rid of my 3D Blu-ray.
Audio: The audio was fine.
There are no 4K exclusive special features, but the set does include a Blu-ray of the film and you can read our IN THE HEART OF THE SEA Blu-ray Review by clicking the link.
Click 4K Ultra HD to read more of our 4K reviews.