Directed by Ron Howard, this is an adventurous thriller of a storyline about a ship full of whale hunters in the 1800s, desperately seeking whale oil and allowing greed to get the better of them. Some more than others. There are so many gripping moments, the men must battle to stay alive, some quickly meeting their death, upon a darkly fated ship.
The first close call with death comes as the new captain (hired through family heritage rather than experience) sends them full force into a treacherous storm that nearly wipes out the ship and most of the crew. The filming shots and angles in this scene are incredible and capture the true rage and terror of the darkest parts of the ocean in a storm.
The initial bad footing that the newly assigned Captain (played by Benjamin Walker) and his second in command - Owen Chase (played by Chris Hemsworth) find themselves on, creates for a turbulent working relationship and a bad dynamic onboard. Thus many of the Captain's initial decisions are not necessarily made in the best interest of the crew and safety of the ship but rather as a way of establishing his own authority, respect and command - albeit for the safety of his men.
As the plot thickens the men find themselves in South America where they are advised to travel 2000 miles away from shores to a place that is filled with whales and good fortune for them. Unfortunately the place also has a darker side to it, where the 'demon' of the sea lives - Moby Dick. However the men do not shrink back with fear - for they suspect that the whale is possibly a myth. As they enter this territory, their journey takes a turn for the worse and their survival is doubtful.
Throughout the movie the cinematography is beautiful and there is a really great capturing of the insignificance of man versus the elements of nature. One of the most poignant moments occurs when Chase finds himself looking into the eyes of the whale - Moby Dick - a kind of non verbal, almost spiritual communication happens between them, an extremely tense moment, that can only be explained through seeing the actual movie.
The entire story is told in the future as an account looking back, by the youngest of the sailors - Nickerson. He tells the tale to a young writer (Herman Melville - played by Ben Whishaw) in a heart felt account - very moving at times. At one point he struggles to go on as his wife appears in the room listening to his darkest of secrets, previously unknown to be present. But she remains loyal and loving and urges him to continue his tale.
- Perhaps one of the underlying themes of the film is the faithfulness of the women, who support their husbands in this trecherous trade and wait for them - for sometimes years, to return home.
Another interesting theme in the movie is how extremely powerful it is to watch how the human condition can rapidly deteriorate when there is a dulled sense of hope. And yet seeing how others do not lose heart and press on to their survival - knowing that they must reach their loved ones, or even just go on living and see what life brings them, to face the years ahead. Another interesting aspect is the gradual change seen in the men as they become more desperate, tired and fearful for their lives - the psychological implications for survival gradually intensify. Do they turn on each other?
To conclude, I would give this movie FIVE stars ***** I truly think that it is really well produced, directed and cast. Go and see this movie! You will 100% love it and be amazed, challenged, inspired and deeply moved.