This is a fictionalized account of the true story of the New England whaling ship the Essex. In 1820, this ship was capsized (more rightly decimated) in the Pacific Ocean by a giant white whale. The crew was stranded at sea for many weeks, some of whom survived to tell of this catastrophe. The story of the Essex was part of the inspiration of Herman Melville’s great work "Moby Dick". This movie begins with Melville interviewing one of the survivors and the drama before, during and after the encounter plays out through a series of extended flashbacks.
2015, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hr 2 mins
Dolby Atmos, 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker and Cillian Murphy
Directed by: Ron Howard
I watched this movie twice prior to writing this review. The first time around, I watched with a normal surround system and the second time was after I had installed a full-on Dolby Atmos set up (with actual in-ceiling speakers).
I really enjoyed it on the first screening. I enjoyed the acting by Brenden Gleeson who played the aging survivor, Tom Nickerson. And I felt the acting in the third act was all-around excellent from the entire cast. I was glued to the set with my only critique being the plasticky CG effects and that the movie was very "Hollywood" (aggressive bass beyond anything natural sounding and the make up was just too ‘perfect’ in some cases). Though the immersion factor increased on the second viewing, the movie did not stand up as well this go around. Maybe I re-watched it too soon but I think this movie is best rented or streamed as repeated viewings may not be satisfactorily engaging.
This film was digitally mastered at 2k and is presented at an unreasonably low bit rate. This compression leads to unnecessary visible artifacts. The colors are heavily manipulated depending on the era being shot, one way for the "present" and another for the "past". This was not a major issue but the filtering was a little too heavy-handed for my tatses. Also, for a 2015 film especially, the CG effects were very obvious and almost platicky in their appearance.
The soundtrack is in Dolby Atmos. This led to a very immersive experience, both on the docks and when the ship was at sea. During the whaling scenes, I felt that the bass was too pimped up to be beleivable. The musical score was well presented and quite enjoyable, by the way.
This is a two disc package with the Blu-ray, a DVD and an included Digital HD code. There are many on-disc extras, all presented in HD – Ron Howard: Captain’s Log, Chase & Pollard: A Man of Means and a Man of Courage, The Hard Life of a Whaler, Whale Tales: Melville’s Untold Story, Commanding "The Heart of the Sea", Lightning Strikes Twice: The Real-Life Sequel to Moby Dick, (16) Deleted Scenes, (4) Extended Scenes, Island Montage and a Bonus Trailer of "Batman versus Superman: Dawn of Justice".