“In the Heart of the Sea”: I once caught a Ron Howard movie THIS BIG

intheheart

“In the Heart of the Sea” opens Friday at Point, Palace, AMC Fitchburg and Sundance. PG-13, 2:02, two stars out of four.

“If I don’t write it, I fear I shall never write again. If I do write it, I fear it won’t be good enough.”

That’s a young Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw) agonizing over writing the novel that will be “Moby Dick,” but I wonder if director Ron Howard and screenwriter Charles Leavitt had similar misgivings about making “In the Heart of the Sea.” Technically the film isn’t a straight adaptation of Melville’s novel, but based on the real-life events that supposedly inspired it (made into a nonfiction book of the same name by Nathaniel Philbrick). But the shadow of the whale and of the Great American Novel loom large over a weak screenplay and some stock seafaring characters.

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