In the Heart of the Sea (Blu-ray) (2015)

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Released 6-Apr-2016

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Adventure Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Ron Howard: Captain’s Log (15:50)
Featurette-Chase & Pollard: A Man of Means and a Man of Courage (7:28)
Featurette-The Hard Life of a Whaler (8:44)
Featurette-Whale Tales: Melville’s Untold Story (9:13)
Featurette-Commanding the Heart of the Sea (10:25)
Featurette-Lightning Strikes Twice: The Real Life Sequel to Moby Dick
Deleted Scenes-Deleted Scenes (36:02)
More…-Extended Scenes (7:11)
More…-Island Montage (3:07)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2015
Running Time 121:43
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Ron Howard

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Chris Hemsworth
Benjamin Walker
Ben Whishaw
Cillian Murphy
Sam Keeley
Gary Beadle
Tom Holland
Frank Dillane
Brendan Gleeson

Case ?
RPI ? Music Roque Banos

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby TrueHD 7.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 7.1
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Thai Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     In the Heart of the Sea is really three stories in one. In 1850, novelist Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw) travels to Nantucket, Massachusetts to meet Tom Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson), the last survivor of the whaling ship the Essex that was lost at sea in 1820. Melville has heard that the Essex was destroyed in the Pacific by a great white whale and he wants to use these facts as the basis of the novel he is writing to be called Moby Dick. As Nickerson talks the story unfolds; of the conflict between the captain, George Pollard, and the first mate, Owen Chase, of the Essex, of the hunt for whales and the sinking of the ship. But following the sinking is another epic story, one of survival and an incredible journey of 2000 nautical miles in open whale boats.

     Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth) comes from farming stock but is an experienced and successful whaleman. He had been promised by the owners that he would be appointed captain for his next voyage but when the Essex is outfitted the command is given instead to George Pollard (Benjamin Walker), an inexperienced captain but the son of one of the most preeminent whaling families of Nantucket. Instead, Chase is offered the position of first mate, which pleases neither Chase nor Pollard. Chase accepts, reluctantly, but the conflict between the two does not take long to come to a head. But on a small Whaleship (only about 85 feet long, and with a crew of 20 men) the two must tolerate each other, even when Pollard’s inexperience almost leads the ship to disaster.

     Whales have increasingly been hunted out near shores, so the Essex is forced far out into the Pacific. 2,000 nautical miles west of South America they strike a bonanza, a huge pod of whales, and commence harpooning. But among the pod is a great white whale, larger than the ship itself, which attacks and holes the Essex, forcing the surviving crew to abandon ship in three tiny whaleboats. The boats head east together, facing starvation and the lack of water. After 34 days they sight land, and believe that have been saved. But the boats have been stalked by the great whale and it attacks, spilling the sailors into the sea. They struggle to the shore with relief but they have arrived on a small island off the sea lanes and their relief turns to despair when, in a cave, they find the skeletons of sailors who had been stranded on the island before. They decide they must return to the sea in their boats or die; after another two months of privations at sea, during which they resort to cannibalism to survive, the remnants of the crew, including both Chase and Pollard, reach South America and finally return to Nantucket.

     Pollard and Chase were real people and the Essex was a real ship, lost at sea. Both Owen Chase, and much later Thomas Nickerson, who was a cabin boy of 14 when the Essex was lost, wrote accounts of the disaster. These accounts were used by writer Nathaniel Philbrick in his nonfiction work published in 2000 In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, upon which In the Heart of the Sea is based. Directed by Ron Howard In the Heart of the Sea looks and feels authentic. Howard is an experienced, no-frills director, at home with directing true stories such as Apollo 13 (1995), A Beautiful Mind (2001), for which he won a best director Oscar, and Frost / Nixon (2008). In the whaling sequences of In the Heart of the Sea we feel the exhilaration and danger of the hunt and the kill and, in the aftermath as the whale is butchered for the blubber which is boiled down and the special spermaceti oil retrieved from the sperm whale’s head, we can sense that this is what it was really like (minus the smell). Sailing ships under full canvas, be it against the sunset, on a wide sea or during a storm, are always spectacular on film, and In the Heart of the Sea gives the vision full justice, courtesy of cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, an Oscar winner in his own right for Slumdog Millionaire (2008).

     In the Heart of the Sea is indeed spectacular cinema, although the spectacle overshadows the characters. Certainly Chase and Pollard, and their conflicts, are there and Chris Hemsworth and especially Benjamin Walker, in the more difficult role, do them justice. But the rest of the crew, including Cillian Murphy, Sam Keeley, Gary Beadle, Frank Dillane, as Pollard’s cousin, and Tom Holland, as the young Tom Nickerson, hardly register even during their epic small boat journey. This means that, for most of this harrowing journey, the audience is not as immersed in the story, or care about the characters’ fates, as much as we should be.

     In the Heart of the Sea is an old fashioned adventure film. Much of it, as the extras show, was shot for real in tanks in London or off the Canary Islands and CGI added to enhance the footage, most of which looks pretty good although the water of a storm at sea is always a challenge. However, on the whole In the Heart of the Sea looks and feels authentic, as close to a whale hunt as you can get without getting wet.

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Transfer Quality


     In the Heart of the Sea is presented in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, close to the original 1.85:1, in 1080p, using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     Filmed using Arri Alexa cameras, the detail in In the Heart of the Sea is very good, showing the ship in all its glory and every mark and whisker on the face of the men, although some of the blue screen work, including the storm at sea or the whale hunt, is softer. Colours are glossy but natural, skin tones good. Blacks and shadow detail are both excellent.

     There was some digital noise in dark scenes, especially those set in Nantucket, but there was no motion blur, marks or artefacts.

     Subtitles are available in a wide range of European languages, including English for the hearing impaired, plus some Asian languages. The subtitles, when off, automatically translated a section of Spanish dialogue.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     The feature audio is a choice of English Dolby TrueHD 7.1, English audio description track (Dolby Digital 7.1), Italian, Spanish and Thai, all Dolby Digital 5.1.

     My system is not yet set up for 7.1 but even in 5.1 In the Heart of the Sea is very impressive. Dialogue is always clear and easy to understand. In quieter moments there are the creaks of the ship’s boards and rigging or the lap of the water plus music, but during the storm, the whale hunt or the attacks by the great white whale the surrounds and rears were fully enveloping with the crash of the sea, yells, whale calls, the breaking of timbers and general mayhem. The sub-woofer added depth and rumble to the sounds of the sea, whale calls and the destruction.

     The score by Roque Banos is epic, but it at times feels overbearing and draws attention to itself, taking us out of the picture.

    Lip synchronisation was fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Ron Howard: Captain’s Log (15:50)

     Director Ron Howard likes Twitter and posted pictures of the shoot. This extra consists of 10 short EPK type featurettes, each introduced by Howard, with his posts and on-set footage. Items covered include scouting locations, shooting in the tanks in London, filming in the ocean near the Canary Islands, editing and the score.

Chase & Pollard: A Man of Means and a Man of Courage (7:28)

     Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Howard, Nathaniel Philbrick (author of In the Heart of the Sea) and two producers talk about the characters of Chase and Pollard, in the film and in real life. Interesting and well worth a look.

The Hard Life of a Whaler (8:44)

     Discusses the reality of the life of whalers using film footage, but also shows how the cast had to learn to look and sound like real sailors. Includes interview contributions from many of the cast, the director, producers, the production designer and the stunt co-ordinator. More a fluff piece.

Whale Tales: Melville’s Untold Story (9:13)

     How Melville constructed his great novel Moby Dick based on the true story of the destruction of the Essex. Film footage and interviews with cast and crew including the screenwriter. Interesting enough.

Commanding the Heart of the Sea (10:25)

     A good featurette showing how live footage in the tank and at sea, visual effects and CGI were combined to produce some of the completed shots. The featurette includes before, during and after shots, plus interviews with the production designer, stunt co-ordinator and visual effects crew.

Lightning Strikes Twice: The Real Life Sequel to Moby Dick (28:25)

     In 2008 marine archaeologists discovered the wreck of a Nantucket whaler on shoals NW of Hawaii. After investigations it turned out that this was the 1823 wreck of the Two Brothers, a ship that was commanded by Captain Pollard, previously captain of the Essex. So lightning could strike twice for the unfortunate Captain Pollard!! This documentary looks at the history of whaling at Nantucket and the connections with Moby Dick using black and white footage, quotations from Melville, interviews with authors, archaeologists and researchers and dive footage on the wreck. Truly fascinating!

Deleted Scenes (36:02)

     Sixteen scenes that can be selected separately or there is a play all option. They have footage from the film so you can tell where they would have fitted. Most are additions or extensions to existing scenes with only a couple, one before the opening title and one set years after the end of the events of the film, are totally new (and superfluous). An extended scene shows more of Chase’s volatile character that the film only otherwise hints at, others just repeat detail covered elsewhere. All have music and sound but four have blue-screen sections, so were cut prior to CGI being added.

Extended Scenes (7:11)

     Four scenes, which again can be selected individually or using the play all option. One is an alternate take on a scene in the film.

Island Montage (3:07)

     A montage of scenes of the shipwrecked crew on the island.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Our In the Heart of the Sea Blu-ray is the same as the US Region A release with the same extras and FBI anti-piracy warning.


     In the Heart of the Sea is an old fashioned, spectacular adventure yarn that looks and feels authentic. The film makes little comment about the morality of the killing of whales: before the discovery of ground oil, whale oil lit the cities and worked the machinery of the industrial revolution. However, in one scene between Chase and the whale the sentiment is more modern, something I doubt a 19th century whaler would feel.

     The video is very good, the audio exceptional. The extras are worthwhile and are the same as are available elsewhere.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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