The Curious Case of the Secret Unlimited Screening at Cineworld

I have had an unlimited card at Cineworld Cinemas for just over a year now. Across my first year I have had great experiences from it, it allowed me to see films I was dying to see, but it also allowed me to see the films I wouldn’t have gone to see if I was going to pay a full price adult ticket. I have always been a huge movie fan, it has always made sense for me to own one so I could save money and still see as many films as I want. Even with the pressure of seeing my money’s worth which does seem very easy, and the pressure of liking a film is also relived because mentally I have the impression of most films being free of charge, even though technically they are not.

One part of owning an unlimited card I had never taken part in was attending an unlimited screening of a film. This would normally occur a few days before general release. But my first time was sold to me in the form of a secret unlimited screening. I was entranced by this email I received informing me I could attend a film which I had no idea what it would be. But it pulled me further in with this veil of secrecy surrounding it, we all know the greatest part of secrets is being the first one to solve them.

So instantly with the week I had before the showing I was researching the length of the film alongside what films were being released a couple of weeks after the date of the unlimited screening. I became the brief embodiment of a modern day Sherlock Holmes, I managed to work out that it was Star Wars like every unlimited member was hoping for. But it was in fact the latest adaptation of Moby Dick ‘In the Heart of the Sea’ directed by the great Ron Howard.

In the Heart of the Sea is a film about the great whaling boat The Essex and its encounter with the white whale. We are told the story in flashback from a man who was really there as the events unfolded. With a film boasting a very impressive cast, a well-regarded director and plenty of big CGI action sequences it leaves you feeling very unsatisfied. Although I don’t know if the fact that this was Cineworld’s Unlimited Secret Screening film aided to that feeling.

The film opens with a young man visiting an older man and wanting to know the story of the Essex. He resists but is convinced by his wife to eventually tell the story. So from there on we know we are going to get it in flashback form. Luckily it doesn’t have too many breaks in the story to go back to them talking, I guess they were going for how emotionally damaged he still was because it all.

We then get the story told through the eyes of a 17 year old who was on his first journey out to sea. With a Captain born into his role and a reluctant first mate who was not happy to take orders when he had previously been promised to be made Captain. Even before they set sail we just knew it wasn’t going to be plain sailing, oh yes I went there with that joke!

The tensions between all the men on the boat was always going to lead to a downfall and pretty much showing that greed will always take over. After hearing a former captain’s story about a place where all the whales had gone to, and a killer whale, they decided to take the risk.

I found it strange that they were saying that Moby Dick was based on actual events and a real incident that occurred out a sea as always just thought it as pure fiction. Having done a little bit of research it turns out it was apparently written after accounts, like shown in the film. I actually thought they had just created that for the film, you know a bit like Rose in Titanic!

The CGI with the whale was not bad, I mean it’s more teasing than anything as it’s rare we fully get to see it. Visually it looks fantastic. Each cut and scar from its long fearful life facing harpoons and boats looking to get the precious resource the whale inhabits. We are teased just enough to want even more of Moby Dick. His size really intimidated me enough to actually fear him.

Brendan Gleeson really stole the show for me in this film, what’s weird is he isn’t meant to. He strikes a chord with me in that he convinces me of the role he plays as any actor should. His character had lived a miserable life since experiencing the events of the film and in explaining his story to the author Herman Melville (played astutely by Ben Whishaw). You see him go through a vast amount of emotions. You are forced to understand the atrocities he committed just to survive the situations he found himself in and each flash of anger and drop of tear Gleeson shows it’s magnificent.

My main problem with this film was how all over the place the accents with the characters were couldn’t work out if they were supposed to be English, American or in Hemsworth’s case his native Australian. That might be a very minor thing but it was distracting to begin with. I do enjoy Hemsworth and would like to see him take on some different types of roles and see what he can really do. Whishaw seems to be quite a favourite at the moment, again I enjoy him as well. Obviously we know what we’re going to get with Gleeson as well.

I wouldn’t say rush out and see this one, but I’m guessing in the UK you aren’t going to have much of a choice on Boxing Day.



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