Hmmm. On one hand, I don’t want to see In The Heart of the Sea in a theater because that means going in with people who know nothing about the true story of the whaling ship Essex and what happened to it and its crew sitting down and expecting some sort of action movie version of Moby Dick, a book that to some is nearly incomprehensible by modern standards. I’m betting myself a shiny new penny that most of the short attention spanners also don’t remember The Perfect Storm and its bleak (but somewhat too heroic to be plausible) finale that went for uplifting (in more ways than one, ha!) just so audiences would leave the theater in a somewhat more together condition and not drowning in all those salty tears.
On the other hand, it’s all that expensive CG work in the trailer and nothing at all in the commercials about the more horrifying aftermath where bad navigational decisions led to the Essex survivors forced to choose a little bit of cannibalism after weeks at sea that bugs me even more. Although I do wonder if fresh leg of man is safer than a movie theater hot dog globbed with chili and unnaturally orange “cheez”. Yeah, that’s a happy holiday film (and perfect Oscar bait) for your consideration, right?
There have also been a couple of movies loosely based on Herman Melville’s book which amusingly enough, could be said to be “inspired by true events” (see that book mentioned above) that only include the sinking of a whaling ship by a massive whale and no man-on-man meal action. The best and most stylishly interesting has to be the 1956 version directed by John Huston starring Gregory Peck as the insane, obsessed Captain Ahab. That film benefited from a screenplay collaboration between Huston and fantasy writer Ray Bradbury that kept enough of Melville’s book to be considered somewhat faithful (and a great deal shorter than what Melville set to paper).
Although Huston and Bradbury didn’t quite get along and Peck thought he wasn’t right for the role of Ahab, the film is still worth tracking down for a few things including a phenomenal Orson Welles cameo. There were two TV miniseries based on Moby Dick that aired in 1998 and 2011 respectively and it’s up for debate as to which is better. That said, my second favorite (and even shorter) version of Moby Dick has nothing to do with Herman Melville, the Essex or even anything resembling reality:
Unless you really despise the Gene Deitch era Tom & Jerry shorts (hey, he’s an Academy Award winning director!), I don’t think that ruined the film or either book at all for anyone reading this. But if you find yourself watching that new movie and getting a case of the cringes when someone starts chomping down on those short ribs from the person who drew that short straw, let Dicky Moe be that happy place you go to as people around you wonder why the heck you’re laughing uncontrollably during what’s supposed to be a tense time for the dwindling former crew of that doomed ship. Hey, that’s not a spoiler at all – just a heads up in case you decide to load up on snacks thinking this latest Ron Howard film is going for a feel good vibe at some point.