The new trailer for Ron Howard’s In The Heart Of The Sea is all about showing off the CG antagonist and the destruction it visits upon the crew of the Essex whaling vessel. In fact, the massive sperm whale gets as much screen time as stars Chris Hemsworth and Cillian Murphy, and even more influence than the overcooked narration by Brendan Gleeson. The film adapts Nathaniel Philbrick’s non-fiction bestseller portraying the 1820 sinking of a whaling ship in the South Pacific, the accounts of which inspired Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick.

While earlier trailers focused on actors gazing at swells in the sea—and hence allowed viewers’ imaginations to run wild—this preview touts the computerized leviathan like a rerun of the second Pirates Of the Caribbean film. The diminished awe isn’t helped by spotty effects; audiences might not know what it looks like when a whale body slams a ship, but they know what people look like, and surely will notice how the stunt doubles here appear to be made out of digital taffy.


Howard still may deliver a rip-roaring maritime adventure, though. After all, Apollo 13 is probably his best film, and this one shares the space adventure’s fascination with stalwart men who are stranded and clinging to life in the face of impossible odds. The effects needn’t be top-notch, and the whale needn’t be mysterious, if the real horror day after day is just another empty horizon.

In The Heart Of The Sea hits theaters on December 11.