In the Heart of the Sea appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The transfer appeared to replicate the source material.
Which is code for “the image had its ups and downs but I can’t criticize the transfer for the choices of the filmmakers”. Sharpness showed some of these inconsistencies, as the movie occasionally showed a diffuse impression that lacked great definition. However, the majority of the movie appeared pretty concise and accurate. No issues with shimmering or moiré effects appeared, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws failed to materialize.
As I noted in the body of the review, the film opted for a heavy teal palette that favored the green side of that equation. As ugly as those hues looked, I couldn’t fault the Blu-ray, as it replicated them as intended. Blacks were dark and dense, and shadows showed pretty good clarity; a few shots were a bit murky, but most seemed fine. This wasn’t a consistently attractive image, but it was satisfactory.
I felt consistently pleased with the excellent Dolby Atmos soundtrack of Sea. Because I don’t have an Atmos-equipped system, this played back as a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix, and it impressed.
With lots of mayhem and sea-based action on display, the soundscape offered nearly constant room for information to emanate from the various speakers, and it used those chances well. The mix delivered wall-to-wall auditory material that spread out across the speakers in a satisfying manner and that blended together nicely.
This meant a very active track. The surrounds worked as nearly equal partners and kept the mix humming. The whale-attack scenes fared best, but plenty of other moments made this a consistently impressive soundfield.
Audio quality also satisfied. Speech was natural and concise, while music sounded peppy and full. Effects turned into the primary factor, and those elements appeared accurate and vivid. Bass response added real depth and rocked my subwoofer. I found myself greatly pleased with this dynamic mix.
This package includes both 2D and 3D versions of In the Heart of the Sea. The picture quality comments above address the 2D edition, but I also want to talk about the 3D image.
In terms of picture quality, the 3D version looked quite good. Sharpness remained strong, and both colors and blacks appeared solid. Low-light shots also maintained a good sense of clarity. The 3D version didn’t look quite as positive as its 2D partner, but it was close.
As for the 3D imaging, I thought Sea added a nice sense of depth that gave the movie a good feeling for the locations. Whaling scenes gained added kick as well and became more involving. Other water-based elements also provided extra dimensionality and allowed us to feel more like we were part of the scenarios. I liked this upconversion quite a lot and felt it gave the movie breadth.
Also the set’s extras reside on the 2D Blu-ray. Under Ron Howard: Captain’s Log, we get 10 segments with a total running time of 15 minutes, 50 seconds. In these, Howard discusses location scouts, the first day of the shoot, sets and shooting ocean shots, cast training and performances, editing and music. We also get a few comments from composer Roque Banos and actors Benjamin Walker, Tom Holland, Edward Ashley, Joseph Mawle, and Jamie Sives, but Howard does the vast majority of the talking.
The “Logs” offer a decent look at the production. Each segment may be brief, but they add a mix of good elements, especially because we get glimpses of the shoot. While not amazing, the snippets merit a look.
A mix of featurettes ensue. Chase and Pollard: A Man of Means and a Man of Courage goes for seven minutes, 28 seconds and offers info from Walker, Howard, author Nathaniel Philbrick, producers Brian Grazer and Paula Weinstein, and actor Chris Hemsworth, “Means’ provides notes about the real Owen Chase and George Pollard as well as cast and performances. Despite its brevity, “Means” brings us a useful mix of details.
For a historical perspective, we go to The Hard Life of a Whaler. In this eight-minute, 44-second piece, we hear from Grazer, Howard, Weinstein, Walker, Philbrick, Hemsworth, Walker, Holland, Mawle, production designer Mark Tildesley, stunt coordinator Daniel F. Malone and actors Sam Keeley and Gary Beadle. We get notes about the whaling business and the movie’s attempts to recreate those areas. Like its predecessors, this one’s awfully short, but it gives us some nice material.
We learn about the author in Whale Tales: Melville’s Untold Story. It goes for eight minutes, 13 seconds and features Philbrick, Howard, Weinstein, Walker, screenwriter Charles Leavitt, and actors Cillian Murphy, Michelle Fairley, and Ben Whishaw. The featurette offers some notes about Herman Melville as well as influences on Sea. “Tales” provides a short but enjoyable summary.
During the 10-minute, 25-second Commanding the Heart of the Sea, we find notes from Howard, Tildesley, Malone, visual effects supervisor Jody Johnson, and visual effects producer Leslie Lerman. “Commanding” examines the practical and CG methods used to bring the movie’s ocean scenes to life. It adds another informative synopsis.
The disc’s longest program, Lightning Strikes Twice: The Real-Life Sequel to Moby Dick occupies 28 minutes, 59 seconds. It provides comments from Philbrick, marine archaeologists Cathy Green and Jason Raupp, Maritime Heritage Coordinator Kelly Gleason, Marine National Monument superintendent T. ‘Aulani Wilhelm, deputy superintendent Randall Kosaki, Nantucket Historical Association Chief Curator Benjamin Simons, and wildlife biologist Jeff Corwin. “Twice” looks at whaling, ships, Nantucket and its inhabitants, and the remains of Two Brothers, the last ship George Pollard commanded. “Twice” comes with some good notes, but it often feels more like an ad for the Hawaiian marine monuments than anything else.
16 Deleted Scenes take up a total of 36 minutes, two seconds, while four Extended Scenes go for seven minutes, 11 seconds. Across these, we tend to get more character depth. We see interactions among the whalers, with some emphasis on how Chase treated the men. We also get a little more of the “disaster” elements in the tale.
Do any of these moments contribute much of interest? Not really, as they mainly just expand concepts we already know. The scenes that show Chase as a tough customer might have some value, as the final film pushes him more into a “nice guy man of the people” persona, but I can’t say any of this cut footage seems especially useful.
An Island Montage lasts three minutes, seven seconds. It shows what it implies: a collection of shots from the island seen in the movie. It feels like an odd music video, and I can’t figure out what purpose it serves.
The 2D disc opens with an ad for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. No trailer for Sea appears here – and unlike some other discs, the 3D platter offers no 3D promos.
A third disc provides a DVD copy of Sea. It includes the “Chase and Pollard” featurette but lacks all the other extras.
As an alternate, fact-related take on Moby-Dick, In the Heart of the Sea sounds promising. Unfortunately, the end result lacks much substance and seems like a tedious attempt at an update on the story. The Blu-ray offers excellent audio as well as mostly good picture and supplements. Sea disappoints.