Ron Howard's seafaring opus is great to look at but very hollow, solid and traditional but lacking excitement. Set in 1820, it recounts the true story of the Essex, the whaling ship that got far more than it bargained for when it crossed the giant white that inspired Moby Dick.
Chris Hemsworth is sturdy and stalwart as First Mate Chase, bitter that his promised Captain position has been usurped by upper class Pollard (Ben Walker, effective at being out of his depth with the rough seamen and powerful in depicting his angry, patronising and wrongheaded decisions). The rivalry between the two is watchable enough but cliched too.
The rest of the ragbag crew do as much as they can when tackling the behemoth below the ocean and the scenes of carnage as the giant whale attacks them is adroitly conjured with CGI trickery. The second half with them in separate dinghies running out of provisions hits the right note of desperation but again never really compels, and the framing device with Ben Whishaw as author Herman Melville interviewing the last survivor of the voyage (Gleeson) 30 years later is a hoary method of stodgily adding atmosphere and significance. The over-insistent music score signposts the danger too much as well.
It's a not bad movie as such, but not a particularly good one either, never drawing you in enough to fully grip. Visually impressive but dramatically underpowered.