I never pictured Ron Howard as much of a Roland Emmerich guy, but that's the unexpected spirit exploding off the trailer for his latest film, “In the Heart of the Sea.” The film tells the true story the American whaleship “Essex” and its ill-fated run-in with a mighty sperm whale in November 1820. The story became the basis for Herman Melville's contemplative novel “Moby Dick.” Howard's version of the story looks more like that time the Kraken ate Jack Sparrow, a beefed up, seafaring 'Apollo 13.' That's not bad thing.
Staring Chris Hemsworth as First Mate Owen Chase, the film recounts the crew's experience surviving the Jaws-on-steroids high seas encounter. Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy, Ben Whishaw, Jordi Molla are all aboard as costars, with Tom Holland and Brendan Gleeson playing young and old versions of the narrator. Charles Leavitt (“Blood Diamond,” upcoming “Warcraft”) wrote the original draft of the script, which Howard reworked with Peter Morgan (“Skyfall”) when it became clear the “Willow” director would direct the project.
This looks crazy fun. Forget blowing New York or Chicago or Hong Kong to bits – by simply transplanting bombast to the Pacific Ocean, Howard's gives his action movie a literary twist that clicks with the plucky, rugged Hemsworth. Last year's “Rush,” Howard and Hemsworth's first collaboration, was under-appreciated and exquisitely executed. “In the Heart of the Sea” looks to continue that streak. It may not have Oscar written all over it, but it has my attention.
“In the Heart of the Sea” sails into theaters March 13th