"As I live and breath...he's mine"
Certainly not Ron Howard's finest film, but still a good one, nonetheless. I find the first half superbly entertaining...with some excellent build-up, great introduction to characters & some cool action in the sea. In the second half, the pace slowed down and the tone gets dark & depressing - which is still okay, because that was the intended tone. The problem is that the plot lacks depth & meaning, and things seem to just happen without reason or meaning, towards the end.
There are some very good aspects with this film. To me, most notably, is the characterization. From the get go, you can feel the strain and conflict between Chris Hemsworth's Owen Chase and the Captain of the ship, George Pollard. This relationship develops throughout the film quite naturally, and it was great. There are some other very distinct characters, too, and it was easy to know who to like, who to root for. It was great for us, and for the film, too.
There are cool action sequences in the first half of the film, accompanied by an excellent soundtrack - I thoroughly enjoyed them. Although not standing out, there is the occasional humour as well. The second half took a dark & depressing tone after the catastrophe, but it should have been okay. The tone is how it should be, but what comes after mostly happens without reason or meaning. Essentially, there is no depth in the plot.
This is what's so different with Ron Howard's previous film, Rush. Rush was an extremely good film, in case you never caught me saying that in my review two years ago. One of the reason is because in the core of the plot, is the rivalry between two men, and how far their commitment & their passion is to the sport. Both men have distinct personality, but equally strong passion to their cause, and it became the recurring theme from start to end. That's why its great to see the plot develop for these two, and by the end, there is a strong meaning that audiences take home.
The same could not be said for In the Heart of the Sea. In this film, the things that happen towards the end seemed like something that would normally happen, but there is no meaning for audiences. It just...happens. I would have thought that there would be one moment of realization or revelation, which would then end the plot with a meaningful change. Unfortunately, that's the problem with this film. Owen Chase is the same guy at the start of the film and at the end of the film. The encounter with the whale and all doesn't seem to change these characters prominently. From this, I hope it is implied to you that the ending is, in essence, unsatisfactory.
The film is still good, with a spectacular first half followed by a watchable second. There are some cool action, and more importantly, great characters. But, the plot has no meaning. The things that happen has particularly no meaning and doesn't change the characters in a significant way. The ending is unsatisfactory. But overall, it's an okay film to watch.