Davis: Whale of a thriller, human drama on deck

…the real drama is the second half of the story which reveals the aftermath of the attack on the Essex.

Chris Hemsworth stars in In the Heart of the Sea

In just over a week, probably the most highly anticipated movie ever finally opens—Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip.

Well, maybe not them but how about Tina Fey and Amy Poehler in Sisters? While the re-teaming of those two does create some excitement, it is Star Wars: The Force Awakens that is expected to break box office records starting with its advance screenings on Thursday, Dec. 17. Tickets for all three movies are on sale now.

While you are waiting for Star Wars and the others to open, In the Heart of the Sea opens this weekend. The latest collaboration between director Ron Howard and Chris Hemsworth is the true story that inspired Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

In the winter of 1820, the New England whaling ship Essex was assaulted by something no one could believe: A whale of mammoth size and will with an almost human sense of vengeance. As exciting as the encounter with the whale is, the real drama is the second half of the story which reveals the aftermath of the attack as the ship’s surviving crew is pushed to their limits and forced to do the unthinkable to stay alive.

Howard and Hemsworth previously worked together on the acclaimed Rush and deserve to have their names close to the title, but it does feature a strong ensemble cast including Benjamin Walker (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins), Brendan Gleeson (Harry Potter series) and Ben Wishaw (“Q” in Spectre) as Herman Melville. Historians may take some issue with Melville being in this story as he was never on the Essex, but he did spend time on another whaling ship as well as other sea vessels.

Another movie based on true events is Legend and tells the story of identical twin gangsters Reggie and Ronnie Kray, two of the most notorious criminals in British history and their organized crime empire in the East End of London during the 1960s. This is not the first time this story has been brought to the big screen as The Krays was released in 1990 with brothers Gary and Martin Kemp portraying the twin brothers (Gary is actually two years older than Martin).

What is different about Legend is that the Kray brothers are both portrayed by Tom Hardy in what is being described as a showcase performance (or performances in this case). The only question is can an actor be nominated for both Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor in the same movie?

That’s not to say that the rest of the cast should be ignored as they include Colin Morgan (TV’s Merlin), Christopher Eccleston (TV’s The Leftovers), Joshua Hill (’71), Emily Browning (Pompeii) and David Thewlis (Harry Potter series, Theory of Everything).

Legend is written and directed by Brian Helgeland, who is best known for Payback, A Knight’s Tale, 42 and co-writing the Academy Award-winning screenplay for L.A. Confidential.

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