This film is a strange prequel to the classic Moby Dick story, this monumental account of the Essex, a whaling ship from Nantucket whose destruction by a rogue whale inspired Herman Melville to write my personal favourite story of all time. Telling the story of the story being retold to Melville… I’ll explain, Melville turns up to spend the night talking with Thomas Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson) to gather information about a book he has in mind, The disgruntled Nickerson who was only a young boy (acted by Tom Holland) at the time of the Essex’s last voyage re tells everything that happened in total clarity inspiring the timeless novel.
Combining some surprising techniques in filing detailed angels and movement, and with a great dash of CG, this film successfully re creates what you can imagine a remake of Moby Dick would look like, but instead it’s glorified origin movie. Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth) is refused to command his own ship due to a broken promise and not having a decent family name, but as he has more experience than fragile blue blood Captain George Pollard (Benjamin Walker) a power struggle commences between the men, with the captain making some retarded decisions, until they are attacked by a white whale!! But don’t think that you know how the story ends this is VERY different to Moby so get ready for a wild ride.
Hemsworth is such a rugged manly man with a uber robust voice (it seemed deeper than normal, maybe I’m wrong), he seems a bit stuffy during the movie but portrays a good strong man and that’s all that is required. But apart from him, the captain and “the boy”, maybe Mr Coffin and Cillian Murphy, everyone else just literally fades into the background, which doesn’t really lead to much “teamwork” but lots of bodies are quite busy so no need to think about them much. The acting is good, but the story actually works through the narrative of the story itself, Brennan adds in a steady voice and he really needs to be utilised in more projects like this and Song of the Sea (2014)
It couldn’t have been easy filming a CG whale movie without it looking like it was in a swimming pool, and while some of it’s limited with some great camera angles and adventurous techniques it really did look amazingly wet in some scenes. Along with a lot of the wider shots looking like classic oil paintings, the soundtrack stopped reflecting the mood in after the first hour, but eventually picks up again.
Its a strong robust origins movie, with a great sense of portraying a rich nautical history
I really enjoyed the film, it’s about the length I like it’s just over 2 hours and really sails through a lot of story and emotions, it doesn’t dawdle too much, and it’s hard to believe that it does keep the pace for the entire time. Before watching I felt that the film would be trying to write itself into the book, I was really expecting to see similar characters and events but it really stands independently as it’s own movie and is a more realistic version of Moby without all of the connotations of god, good and evil, man and deity etc, another realism is the whale is as white as a white whale can be without being albino, and there are some distressing scenes near the end and a subtle twist in the plot. By the end of the film everyone, left alive gets a chance to prove his worth during one of the most dramatic voyages ever.
Full review and post discussion to come.