The film is based on Nathaniel Philbrick’s novel In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of Whaleship Essex, which shares the true story of a sperm whale attack on a New England whaling ship in 1820 — the very same tale that eventually inspired Herman Melville to write Moby Dick.
Hemsworth plays Owen Chase in the film, an experienced whaler and first mate on Essex, a harpoon ship from Nantucket that gets attacked by, you guessed it, a gigantic sperm whale. The story doesn’t end there, instead following the horrifying aftermath of the attack, and the harrowing things the crew has to withstand to make it back to dry land alive.
In the trailer we see the character of Melville (played by Ben Whishaw) hearing the story first hand, from which he ultimately penned his world-famous novel.
In the Heart of the Sea was directed and produced by Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind), who previously worked with Hemsworth on his 2013 release Rush, where the actor played famed 1970s Formula 1 driver James Hunt.
From it’s final trailer, the new film appears to be a dramatic seafaring adventure in the same vein as Master and Commander, which received much critical acclaim when it arrived in late 2003, snatching 10 nominations and two awards at the 76th annual Academy Awards.
Executives at Warner Brothers clearly think they have a similar nautical contender on their hands, having pushed the new film’s release from this past March to December 11, the height of awards season.
That said, in a case of odd planning, the film hits IMAX screens for the first time on December 11, just a week before JJ Abrams’ new Star Wars franchise takes over the bigger screens at virtually every theater nationwide.
It remains to be seen how any holiday film will do in the shadow of the blockbuster behemoth that is Star Wars, which is expected to be the biggest film of the year, if not the biggest of all time. Will In the Heart of the Sea hold its own, or be shattered to bits by the Star Wars leviathan like the characters in the tragic tail? We’ll have to wait and see, but Warner is pinning its hopes that if anything can take a bite out of The Force Awakens, it’s a time-honored epic directed by the great Ron Howard and starring the God of thunder himself.
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