Director Ron Howard and current Thor actor Chris Hemsworth collaborated together on the Formula One racing biographical drama Rush back in 2013, and next year will see them working together again in another film inspired by real events, In the Heart of the Sea. Howard’s ocean-set dramatic thriller details how, in 1819, the Nantucket whaleship Essex undertook a voyage that ended up going horribly wrong due to an encounter with an eighty-foot sperm whale – leaving the vessel irreparably damaged and its crew to survive with limited supplies, stranded at sea.
Does part of that sound familiar? That’s because it was the actual incident that inspired Herman Melville to write his man vs. nature literary masterpiece, Moby Dick. The In the Heart of the Sea teaser trailer (see above) includes narration by Brendan Gleeson (Edge of Tomorrow, Calvary) – who, in the film, plays the older version of the Essex’s cabin boy, Thomas Nickerson (portrayed as a young man by Tom Holland), and is responsible for recounting the story to a young Melville (Ben Whishaw, Skyfall), many years after the fact.
Hemsworth’s In the Heart of the Sea character is that of the Essex’s First Mate Owen Chase, who must help lead the surviving crew members after their ship is taken down by the aforementioned giant sperm whale (who’s tail is glimpsed in the teaser trailer’s “money shot,” at the conclusion).
As you can see, Howard’s latest film boasts a pretty impressive cast on the whole; in addition to the previously-listed names, the movie’s acting crew includes Benjamin Walker (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) as the Essex’s captain, along with Michelle Fairley (Game of Thrones), Gary Beadle (EastEnders), and Peaky Blinders costars Paul Anderson and Cillian Murphy, in supporting roles. You can check out the film’s poster, below (CLICK FOR THE FULL-SIZE VERSION):
The In the Heart of the Sea screenplay – as adapted from Nathaniel Philbrick’s lauded 2000 non-fiction book “In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex” – was penned by Charles Leavitt, who also scripted the politically-charged drama/thriller Blood Diamond, as well as the upcoming fantasy genre tentpoles Seventh Son and Warcraft.
Judging by the trailer footage, Howard’s film will (no pun) dive into some heavy subject matter, as the remaining crew members of the Essex must not only confront the true power of nature, but also resist the urge to give in to their most primal instincts as they attempt to stay alive. We’ll have to wait and see if Levitt’s script does justice by that material, though it’s encouraging to see that there will be some acting heavyweights giving life to the characters – who are based on real people – featured on the written page.
Furthermore, In the Heart of the Sea looks to boast some beautiful, painterly, visuals and an effectively bone-chilling color palette that heightens the sensation of being trapped at sea (and vulnerable to its elements) along with the sailors onscreen. Credit for that belongs to the film’s Oscar-winning cinematographer, Anthony Dod Mantle, who also collaborated with Howard on Rush, as well as several of Danny Boyle’s films (28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire, etc.) and the cult hit comic book movie Dredd.
Judging by the early results here, with In the Heart of the Sea, and the final result with Rush (read our review), it might not be a bad idea for Mantle to work on all of Howard’s projects, moving forward.
In the Heart of the Sea opens in U.S. theaters on March 13th, 2015.