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, and an almost human sense of vengeance. The real-life maritime disaster would inspire Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. But that told only half the story. Based on Nathaniel Philbrick's book, In The Heart Of The Sea reveals the encounter's harrowing aftermath, as the ship's surveying crew is pushed to their limits and forced to do the unthinkable to stay alive. Braving storms, starvation, panic, and despair, the men will call into question their deepest beliefs, from the value of their lives to the morality of their trade, as their captain searches for direction on the open sea and his first mate still seeks to bring the great whale down. (Gary Reber)
Special features include six featurettes: Whale Tales: Melville's Untold Story (HD 09:13), The Hard Life Of A Whaler (HD 08:44), Chase & Pollard: A Man Of Means And A Man Of Courage (HD 07:28), Lightning Strikes Twice: The Real-Life Sequel To Moby Dick (HD 28:59), Commanding The Heart Of The Sea (HD 10:25), and Ron Howard: Captain's Log (HD 15:50); 18 deleted and extended scenes (HD 36:02); upfront previews; and an UltraViolet digital copy.
The 1.78:1 1080 MVC picture, which was converted from the 2D original photography by Prime Focus, is one of the most spectacular 3D presentations thus far produced. The sense of realism and peril is uncanny. The cinematography is impressive, with thrilling sequences of photography at sea enhanced with thrilling visual special effects. The sense of depth and perspective is extraordinary, especially given the intense action and motion above and below the sea. The use of out-of-screen effects is effectively handled and never gimmicky. Color fidelity is excellent and conveys a sense of historical period. Hues are earthy in tone and density, while flesh is naturally hued, even with the low-light levels that often prevail. Contrast is well balanced, especially considering the darkness of numerous scenes, with natural black levels and revealing shadow delineation. Resolution is excellent, with fine texture detail exhibited throughout, as well as detail resolved in facial features, hair, and clothing. The detail revealed on the Essex itself is visually boggling, with the finest of detail exhibited in the ship's construction, wood deck, ropes, sails, and riggings. This is an exceptionally spectacular 3D presentation that is visually breathtaking and remarkably exciting. The 2D presentation pales in comparison to the 3D's reference-quality experience, This is a masterpiece of filmmaking that will not disappoint. (Gary Reber)
The Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtrack was mixed specifically for the home theatre environment. The holosonic® spherical surround presentation is excitingly immersive and enveloping, with the soundfield fully engaged throughout most of the presentation. The two added surround channels and the addition of height sonics impressively enhance the experience, to create an effective sense of realism. Atmospherics, sound effects, and dialogue are all directionalized and create a soundfield experience that is rare. At times, all channels are fully energized, with an additional boost in dynamic provided by the strong deep bass output of the .1 LFE channel. In particular, sound effects convey the heavy toll inflicted on the Essex from Moby-Dick, as the ship slowly disintegrates to a fiery explosive infernal, followed by a pounding thunderous rainstorm upon the survivors. Throughout, the orchestral music score is driving and hugely expansive across the soundstage and within the surround hemisphere. Dialogue remarkably retains good intelligibility, with excellent spatial integration. This is an exceptionally dynamic, holosonic® experience that delivers constant thrills and excitement. As with the 3D visual experience, this is a reference-quality soundtrack that will not disappoint. (Gary Reber)