Review: Poor acting wrecks ‘In the Heart of the Sea’

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Just like the characters in “In the Heart of the Sea” attempt to return home with a profitable amount of whale oil, the film came up short. Big effects and a superstar actor leading the cast can only get a film so far, especially when the superstar actor is just really bad.

Unfortunately for “In the Heart of the Sea,” Chris Hemsworth is the superstar actor chosen to lead the film. Hemsworth, who excels at the over-the-top role of the actual god Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has a tougher time playing working-class First Mate Owen Chase, and finds himself slipping between a really poor Bostonian accent, his native Australian accent and his obnoxiously dramatic accent used in “Thor” throughout the film.

Hemsworth has leading man looks, but none of the talent that actors normally need in order to be cast in films, proving that if you’re good looking enough, all the possibilities in the world are opened up to you.

The only actors who excelled in portraying their characters well were Michelle Fairley and Brendan Gleeson as Mrs. and Mr. Nickerson, a man who somehow survived the whaling incident as a boy and his wife, who are retelling their story to Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw). The scenes of them were mostly for narration and used sparsely, and their minor roles led to a cast mostly filled with poor actors and unlikeable characters — making it almost impossible to root for their success.

On top of the unlikable cast, instead of making it a joyous and heroic moment in the film, director Ron Howard dramatizes when the crew actually manage to catch a whale. Even for non-animal lovers, watching the whales scared attempt to escape is heartbreaking, and makes it even harder to not root for the giant white whale when it attacks the crew for revenge.

“In the Heart of the Sea” is a film that’s difficult to connect to on multiple levels, and ultimately, an idea that should have been shipwrecked long before it was made.