In the Heart of the Sea 2015

Critics score:
42 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Lou Lumenick, New York Post: Warner Bros. would have been better off sticking with the film's original March release date and selling it as a horror movie. Read more

Rex Reed, New York Observer: It's a harrowing tale that still packs an entertaining wallop. But any attempt at character development seems to have ended on an editing-room table. Read more

Stephanie Zacharek, TIME Magazine: Who cares anymore about the sea, or sailors, or whales who decide, with an almost biblical vengeance, that it's payback time? Howard cares, and his movie, flawed as it is, is so unfashionable that it's almost gallant. Read more

Justin Chang, Variety: A pedestrian retelling of a harrowing real-life survival story that served as one of the key inspirations for "Moby-Dick." Read more

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, AV Club: If In The Heart Of The Sea has its share of clunks and groans, it also looks suspiciously like bona fide big-screen art. Read more

Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic: We never doubt the enormity or ferocity of the beast, nor the trials of the men who unwisely went hunting for it. We just don't live and die by the outcome. Read more

Ty Burr, Boston Globe: All the accents in this movie sound as if the actors had been coached to talk like Red Sox fans magically transported to the 1820s. Read more

J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader: Alternately awesome and wooden. Read more

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: I wish Howard's film had more of a distinct personality and drive behind it; Howard's made some supremely enjoyable films, in various keys, but this waterlogged, effects-crazed picture isn't one of them. Read more

Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor: If the movie accomplishes nothing else, though, I hope it inspires the curious to actually sit down and finally read Moby-Dick. Read more

Adam Graham, Detroit News: A lumbering sea adventure that never finds its bearings, Ron Howard's "In the Heart of the Sea" is a whale of a dud. Read more

Preston Jones, Fort Worth Star-Telegram/ Although the film desperately strives to achieve the salt-stained realism of, say, Peter Weir's 2003 beautifully rough-hewn epic, Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World, In the Heart of the Sea falls far short of such lofty goals. Read more

Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly: Howard's film, for all of its storytelling skill, technical polish, and rousing high-seas sequences, never quite casts the spell it should. Read more

Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News: In the Heart of the Sea is everything you might expect and a little bit less. It's solid if rarely spectacular, engaging if rarely engrossing. Read more

Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter: Something less than a whale of a tale. Read more

Amy Nicholson, L.A. Weekly: Moby-Dick was a story of fever and obsession. Ron Howard is interested in something more cynically modern: corporate greed. Read more

Tony Hicks, San Jose Mercury News: Howard does a great job of making his cetacean protagonist fluid, powerful and frightening. Almost as impressive, he avoids making it seem too villainous or, conversely, too sympathetic. Read more

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald: In the Heart of the Sea is a savage story of survival encased in Ron Howard amber - the gooey, dull coating of self-importance and respectability that typifies most of the pictures he has directed. Read more

Rafer Guzman, Newsday: Ron Howard's grand maritime adventure has spectacular effects, literary polish and just the right touch of modern-day relevance. Read more

Anthony Lane, New Yorker: If you want a Ron Howard movie about a man obsessed with a creature from the deep, "In the Heart of the Sea," sadly, is not the place to start. Try "Splash." Read more

Scott Tobias, NPR: The Essex becomes a stand-in for humanity's relationship with vengeful God and it's too much for the film to handle, especially when it relies so much on the author himself to give it significance. Leave that to Moby-Dick. Read more

Stephen Whitty, New York Daily News: Sure, Hemsworth looks great, and the whale's attacks are genuinely exciting. And some of the everyday details of life at sea are fascinating, too, if disgusting. But sorry, maties, but this is the one that got away. Read more

Manohla Dargis, New York Times: The biggest mistake here ... is a misbegotten decorousness that sinks the movie, stoving it as calamitously as an enraged whale. Read more

Lindsey Bahr, Associated Press: Most of the second half is spent drifting with them on lifeboats. In these interminable minutes, we don't get anything resembling an understanding of how they survived (or didn't) either mentally or physically. Read more

James Berardinelli, ReelViews: Visually and viscerally, the film provides reasons to pay the price of admission and see it in a theater. Read more

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: Sure it's old-school. So what. Howard puts every computerized whale trick in the book into crafting a seafaring adventure to rock your boat. Read more

Soren Anderson, Seattle Times: There is something curiously flat about Ron Howard's recounting of the final voyage of the ill-fated, 19th-century whale ship the Essex. Read more

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: A predictable disaster-at-sea story that follows the pattern of all disaster-at-sea stories, with guys floating in still water, under a hot sun, getting so hungry that they start looking at each other with a funny expression. Read more

Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune: It is a cinematic shipwreck of epic scale. A flotilla of failure. It stinks as it sinks. Read more

Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: The most compelling onscreen presence is the whale- who, unlike the rest of the cast, is spared the wooden dialogue. Read more

David Sims, The Atlantic: If a silent whale is your most magnetic screen presence, he should probably appear for more than a few minutes. Read more

Brad Wheeler, Globe and Mail: At the heart of the problem with this period piece is an absence of a riveting scene or a memorable slice of dialogue. Read more

Peter Howell, Toronto Star: This whale tale doesn't blow, but it does sniffle a bit too much. Read more

Alonso Duralde, TheWrap: Lovers of spectacle for spectacle's sake will come away from the film with sequences to admire, but there's not enough human element to bridge them together. In terms of lasting power, it roars in like a great tide, but then just as quickly dissipates. Read more

Tom Huddleston, Time Out: The dramatic scenes are a touch overcooked, and there are moments when it feels like a particularly high-end school play, with everyone shouting "Avast!" and "Ahoy!" like they really mean it. The action, though, is consistently impressive. Read more

Bruce Kirkland, Toronto Sun: It is mounted as a handsome period piece in period style, except for the modern special effects to make the close-ups of the whale look real. But it is also a bridge to modern thinking and a desperately thrilling adventure story. Read more

Brian Truitt, USA Today: Howard creates an immersive, gorgeously shot experience pitting man against beast in the ocean for the film's most spectacular scenes, which are reminiscent of old-school scope of Mutiny on the Bounty and other watery adventures of yesteryear. Read more

Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine/Vulture: The meat-and-potatoes Howard is uncomfortable in the realm of the spirit, or the metaphysical. He can film objects, and he can film people, but he can't quite film emptiness. The cosmic vastness of the sea eludes him. Read more

Alan Zilberman, Washington Post: It's a tentative, half-realized tale that ultimately suffers from a significant identity crisis. Read more

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: Sorry to beat a dead whale, since "In the Heart of the Sea" clearly lacks whatever it takes to engage a contemporary audience, but what were they thinking when they put such a ponderous picture into production? Read more

Gwyneth Kelly, The New Republic: A few scenes in In the Heart of the Sea hint at how effective the film might have been if told purely as a gripping story of man versus nature. Read more