Ron Howard doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He’s seen as a journeyman, and while maybe that’s a fair label, it’s often used to dismiss his work. It’s understandable some people undervalue the guy who directed The Dilemma, The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, but Howard is also responsible for Apollo 13, Parenthood, freaking Night Shift, The Paper, Frost/Nixon and A Beautiful Mind. What’s respectable about Howard as a filmmaker is that, even this far into his career, he’s trying new things and pushing himself. Sometimes the result doesn’t always work, but a journeyman isn’t the kind of director that takes the occasional risk like Howard does.
Last year a huge gamble of his paid off: Howard made one of his best films with Rush — a movie filled with energy, passion and excitement. The movie wasn’t a hit at the box-office or at awards ceremonies, but it’s a film from last year people actually continue to talk about. Since the filmmaker doesn’t have a signature style, it’s hard to say a movie doesn’t feel like a “Ron Howard movie,” but Rush really doesn’t feel like a Ron Howard movie. The cinematography, editing choices and camera moves were like nothing he’s ever done before.
It looks like the same guy who made Rush has returned for In The Heart of the Sea, an adaptation of Nathaniel Philbrick’s novel, which follows the crew of the Essex and its beefy captain (Chris Hemsworth) as they face off against Moby Dick.
Take a look at the latest trailer for In the Heart of the Sea:
Howard is once again collaborating with cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle (Rush), and that’s pretty obvious while watching this trailer. Hopefully the two continue to work together because, based on the aesthetics in this trailer, they’ve made some bold choices. No other movie coming out looks and feels like In The Heart of The Sea. There’s a beautiful griminess here.
There’s another reason to be excited though, and that’s the honestly charismatic presence of Hemsworth. He was fantastic in Rush – one of two performances in the film deserving an Oscar nomination, the other being Daniel Brühl. The in-demand actor also has Michael Mann’s Cyber coming up in addition to a little something called The Avengers: Age of Ultron, so the sexiest man alive in 2014 is looking to have an even better 2015.
As for Howard, it’s great to see him making a movie like this. Rather than direct another safe bio movie or jumping right into another Dan Brown adaptation, he’s made a period piece with Moby Dick – and that’s risk taking. A journeyman rarely produces results as good as Rush or something that looks this grand, so maybe we should start calling Howard an auteur, at least until he makes another Dan Brown film… which will be in 2016 with the release of Inferno.
In the Heart of the Sea opens in theaters March 13th, 2015.