MOVIE REVIEW: “In The Heart Of The Sea” Might Make You Seasick

In the Heart of the Sea tells the story of a monstrous white whale, but it’s not the same whale story we’re familiar with. No, this one tells the REAL story of the doomed Essex, which Herman Melville based Moby Dick on. Chris Hemsworth plays the First Mate of a ship that is attacked by a whale and then lost at sea for months. We learn about the ordeal from Tom Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson), who is the only surviving crewmember of the Essex. He has been wracked with guilt for years and reveals big secrets to Melville as he recounts the whole, harrowing tale.

In the Heart of the Sea is directed by Ron Howard, who brought along his favorite crew members from the movie Rush (including Hemsworth, who can still pull off beefcake when he’s gaunt and scarred). Howard also uses his Rush cinematographer, Anthony Dod Mantle, which brings me to my biggest problem with In the Heart of the Sea. The camera is EVERYWHERE, constantly being thrown around to the point of losing focus and sometimes even sight of its subject. I think Mantle wanted a new and interesting way to convey the motion of a ship at sea, but the camera is shaky even when they’re docked. It’s distracting to the point of frustration and sometimes even dizzying. The commotion is exaggerated by the 3D effects (which is how I saw it) so I recommend seeing this movie in a traditional 2D format. Believe me, the 3D effects do not enhance the movie enough to justify barfing up your Junior Mints.

There’s also the issue of a big reveal later in the film. It’s a terrifying secret of the Essex crew but the audience will see it coming from miles away. Maybe we’ve seen too many lost-at-sea pics lately (Unbroken and Life of Pi come to mind immediately) but this has become familiar territory for us. In the Heart of the Sea feels anticlimactic and predictable, thanks to this, despite attempts to tell an old story a new way. I’m afraid that I can only recommend In the Heart of the Sea to those who love a good seafaring adventure, who are also not prone to motion sickness. – C-


MOVIE REVIEW: “Joy” – Man, What A Disappointment

Joy stars Jennifer Lawrence as Joy Mangano, the real-life woman who invented the Miracle Mop and launched an empire in the process. It’s directed by David O. Russell, who won audiences over with the The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook, then left us all feeling mildly dissatisfied with American Hustle. We got pretty excited about Russell releasing another Jennifer Lawrence-led project over the holidays, but get ready for another heaping dose of disappointment. Joy doesn’t live up to Russell’s previous Oscar nominees, and that means it’s not even as good as the not-very-good American Hustle.

The problem here is Joy’s family, who unintentionally thwart every chance she has of a normal life. She lives under the same roof as her singer-ex-husband (Tony Miranne), volatile father (Robert De Niro) and neurotic mother (Virginia Madsen), who is so quirky she might have just stepped out of a Wes Anderson flick. Throw a couple of kids in the mix and Joy is so overwhelmed she can barely breathe, much less thrive. Jennifer Lawrence is at her best when she’s slaying dragons but she’s so busy throwing punches here that her character never develops. By the time Joy finally finds some success, we’re all too exhausted to celebrate with her.

There are some moments in Joy that work, namely every shot at the QVC studios (I especially liked how Melissa Rivers played her mother, Joan) and a fun soap-opera story line that pops up occasionally. It’s not enough to save this movie from it’s own phrenetic energy, which is why I’m giving Joy a C. Man, we had such high hopes for this one. I’m honestly as bummed to write this review as you probably are to read it!


MOVIE REVIEW: “The Night Before”- Well, THAT Was A Surprise

I’m not sure WHY I expected Seth Rogen’s latest comedy The Night Before to suck, but I did.

I expected it to suck even though it also stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who was in one of my favorite Seth Rogen movies ever (50/50– Pick it up if you haven’t seen it). I expected it to suck even though it also stars my new favorite Avenger, Anthony Mackie, who can currently do no wrong in my book. Maybe I expected The Night Before to suck because the concept seems so thin. Three friends meet on Christmas Eve every year to get hammered. Sounds like an excuse for marginally-funny “look how wasted we are” shenanigans and cameos by Rogen’s celebrity pals, right? That’s exactly what The Night Before is, but it’s also a whole lot more. Continue reading →