REVIEW: “IN THE HEART OF THE SEA” (2015) Warner Bros.

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“In the Heart of the Sea” is an Action/Adventure/Biopic based on the real disaster that inspired Herman Melville’s ‘Moby-Dick’. The film follows the voyage of the ‘Essex’, a whaling ship that was bought down in 1820 by a Sperm Whale in the South Pacific, and is a true tale of adventure, drama, and survival.

Obviously the main reason to go and see this movie was to see this massive whale go toe to toe with the ‘Essex’ and its crew although actual confrontations with the whale in this film were few and far between, but when they happen, do they make an impact. This whale is inexplicably huge, and yes, he was grand as the story tells. in the heart 2It truly was such a spectacle seeing this huge beautiful whale on screen. The way they emphasize his size through setting him side by side with the boats gives his presence much more weight. Confrontations with the whale were intense and pretty good edge-of-seat stuff. Yes it’s CGI effects, but the whale was done beautifully and it’s incredibly detailed, making this whale look quite realistic and believable.
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The film’s biggest problem was the pacing. Throughout the film there are quite a few uninteresting moments that fail to hold your interest. There are some especially slow moments at the beginning where they are introducing some of the main characters to us including our lead, Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth) & his wife Peggy Chase (Charlotte Riley). As the introductions continue, we meet Mrs. Nickerson (Michelle Fairley) wife to Tom Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson), who will be the one recounting the events of the film to Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw) as he lived through and endured them as his younger self played very well by Tom Holland. Scenes like this are nothing new and have been done in countless films before this, but here they are a big part of the actual story of the film.
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Acting wise, the film was pretty good. I had heard some possible Oscar buzz about Hemsworth as he was the obvious standout, and he was able to show off a different side of his acting talents here, but still even with his dramatic transformation, it isn’t going to garner any type of Best Actor nom. The supporting cast was mostly pretty strong, Benjamin Walker as George Pollard and Cillian Murphy as Matthew Joy really stand out, again with Tom Holland as the Younger Thomas Nickerson. The crew of the Essex made up of Henry Coffin (Frank Dillane), Caleb Chappel (Paul Anderson), Benjamin Lawrence (Joseph Mawle), William Bond (Gary Beadle), Ramsdell (Sam Keeley) to name a few, were all good strong performances.
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Ron Howard does a pretty good job directing the film and most of the time he nails the tone of the film. The dramatic action scenes were filmed and directed in a very frantic and chaotic manner that upped the stakes during those intense moments. Especially in the latter portions of the film he does represent the sad tones and emotion pretty well and handles some very confronting scenes in a way that isn’t too disturbing but also isn’t sugar-coated.

The latter half of the film, although not free of some slower moments, does pick up significantly from the first half when it introduces some survival elements. As the film doesn’t end on a high note as it could have been a short and sweet ending but it is dragged out a little longer but with that, it makes a strong point.

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In the end, this is an action/adventure that has its intense, dramatic moments, but is not without some slower moments that if excluded could have kept the film to a shorter run time and maybe would have made it more impactful. If you are fascinated of the story of Moby-Dick as I was as a child, then you will definitely get more enjoyment out of the film.

Grade: C
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Review Screening: Monday, December 7, 2015 ~ Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
Nationwide release: Friday, December 11, 2015

“BLACKHAT” (2015) UNIVERSAL PICTURES

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Ahhh Michael Mann.. First off, I am a fan..have been for ages, so many good movies & fashion statements in your TV & film work ~ and “Blackhat” is not the massive fiasco that it could be but it’s hard to know where to begin analyzing it. First off there’s the screenplay by Morgan Davis Foehl, which alternates between dull, rushed and an utter disregard for reasonable logic at times.

But let’s not rush ahead of ourselves here with all that. Chris Hemsworth stars as “Nicholas Hathaway”, the world’s greatest computer hacker who also happens to look a lot like Thor (thankfully). Currently serving 15 years for cyber-crimes, he gets furloughed from jail at the behest of his old MIT roommate “Lien Chen” (Leehom Wang) who is now a big-time higher-up in the Chinese military. Chen is working with FBI agent “Carol Barrett” (Viola Davis) to track down a hacker who put the whammy on both an Asian nuclear reactor and the American commodities exchange using malware code created by Hathaway & Chen in their college days. blackhat 1

The pursuit of the villain takes our team — which includes Chen’s sister “Lien” (Wei Tang), who falls in love with Hathaway in one of the most random, chemistry-free onscreen romances in recent memory — to Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia, but in all this globe-trotting studio money can buy, it’s no substitute for things little things like oh..character development, suspense and motivation. Hathaway’s character concept is lacking, and he’s one of the film’s better-written roles, and it seems only Davis can make filet mignon out of the ground beef of this material, turning vague and clunky dialogue into gold with just one or two quick quips and a sardonic glance over her sunglasses.
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The screenplay, mocks us at times, with the fact that we are not supposed to take notice the bad guys’ inability to hit with directly aimed bullets, key characters – aka “The Good Guys” -despite constant flutters of automatic weapons fire, or the fact that an FBI agent asks another a personal question based on a phone call to which he was not privy to, or one of my favourite aspects, the fact that blond, six-and-a-half-foot Hemsworth is supposed to blend in with the crowds in Asia like he’s not head & shoulders above them all..literally..and attracting no second glances whatsoever as he’s on the run in airports or sneaking into computer facilities or engaging in gun battles in the middle of crowded street festivals. Lastly, that a computer hack with huge mayhem & destruction imminently pending, within a matter of hours to be precise, but curiously so, the lead characters have time to fall completely in love and plan a future relationship and as cyber-hackers they just pick up guns that they immediately know how to use truly made me shake my head as in ‘okey dokey then’. blackhat 2

But to best describe what truly underscores the problems with some of the filming, which oddly enough looks at it’s worst whenever there’s some type of light source on screen, whether it be a lamp or a car headlight or just the sun; so where does the big finale happen? Well…amongst hundreds of people carrying torches, but of course (insert facetious sarcasm here). Because not only is it weird and completely off base, but that these guys are carrying huge automatic weapons and no one out of all these thousands of people notice it. NONE! Come on now.
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Given Sony’s recent ‘issues’ with hacking, the timing couldn’t be better for a movie about the vulnerability of international computer networks, but “Blackhat” isn’t that movie..though I’m not going to say it couldn’t be plausible, because despite what you might think, the actors are believable enough as their characters, it’s what the plot makes them do at times that isn’t. I’m thinking that pretty much no matter how you slice it, this is one hack-ity hacker pic that just hasn’t really cracked it’s own code of how to make a movie about computer espionage that doesn’t come down to scene after scene of people sitting at keyboards and making clicky-clack noises with their fingers. To his credit, Michael Mann does try to jazz things up with cool tracking shots through microchips (it’s like the express lane to Tron’s house) or even putting the camera inside a thumb-drive slot or under a keyboard that’s being typed upon, and though it has it’s entertaining moments for sure, in the end it’s to little avail in saving the film from some of the other things that make it a no go.

Grade: C-
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“Rush”

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I am sooooo looking forward to the Holiday movie season – so to start it off and even though I have a free screening on Thursday of “RUSH” – I had to go see it on the 1st day of limited release…Why?..because I’ve loved Formula 1 since I was a little girl & my dad & I used to watch it together & he would tell me all about the race car drivers. This movie is every single one of those memories and having had the chance to have met Niki Lauda in the 80’s makes it super special to me.. But it’s not just a movie about car racing, it’s a story about people & their lives, about what it takes to overcome & survive incredible odds, about 2 sportsmen, who led polar opposite lives & who despite an intense rivalry that made them hate each other, were also full of respect for each other. It’s sad, funny, intense & and even though it has a few choppy moments, is a great story woven into it about a world I’m sure many don’t know to much about. For me, I can’t wait to see it again..oh and yeah.. This is for the girls ~ Chris Hemsworth is amazingly hott! I didn’t think I would ever say this..but his blue eyes are almost like Paul Newman blue eyes.. 😀 Grade: B+ #peggyatthemovies