Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

"Essential"

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World Review


After viewing the trailer for Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, you might think the film is out of place for its November release. After all, giant epics like this fuel special-effects-thirsty summer moviegoers. Fall is usually reserved for smaller, higher quality films commanding the attention of Oscar voters. 20th Century Fox had originally scheduled Master and Commander for a June release - that is, (I'm sure) until they realized what an extraordinary and award-worthy film they had.

Master and Commander is based on Patrick O'Brian's series of novels called Aubrey/Maturin about the British navy during the Napoleonic Wars. The film takes place in 1805, when the French rule the high seas. An English vessel, the HMS Surprise, roams the same oceans looking to carry out the official order of intercepting any French ship they encounter. The captain of the Surprise, Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe), refuses to accept defeat at the hands of the French and is willing to carry out his assignment at any cost.

Director Peter Weir wastes no time getting the action started. As the film opens, a Surprise midshipman thinks he has spotted a distant object in the fog-shrouded sea, yet when he calls this to the attention of Captain Aubrey, he can't find the object. Flashes of fire suddenly appear in the distance, and cannonballs strike the bow of the Surprise. As the fog slowly clears, the object in the distance becomes known: the French super-frigate Acheron. Aubrey quickly readies his men and cannons for war as cannons continue to puncture the aging British fighting vessel. The Surprise fights back, but their cannons cannot pierce the superiorly built Acheron, and they only succeed in pushing the French further out to sea.

This intense opening battle is simply an appetizer for what's to come. Surprisingly, there are only two key battles, and they serve as bookends for the many outstanding and gripping scenes that typify the fine interior craftsmanship of this film. As the injured are attended to, we meet Dr. Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany), the Surprise's Surgeon and Aubrey's most trusted friend. Maturin is also a naturalist who is not dedicated to war; rather, he is devoted to the discovery of animals and phenomena that will advance the human race. When Maturin is accidentally wounded in his pursuit, there is no one else to remove the damaging bullet from his stomach. In one of the film's most dramatic moments, with the help of Aubrey and a mirror, Maturin amazingly operates on himself to save his own life.

Master and Commander could have easily become a stereotypical action picture where every scene is punctuated with explosions and other big budget special effects. While the film's budget does exceed $100 million, Weir refreshingly concerns himself most with the relationships between all classes of seamen, from cook and carpenter to midshipman and lieutenant. This camaraderie is easily apparent throughout the film and in one key scene, the crew must work together to keep the Surprise afloat when they find themselves in the middle of a severe rainstorm.

Crowe is brilliant once again, just as he was in A Beautiful Mind and Gladiator. Each of those films earned him Oscar nominations, and with his performance here, he is primed to earn his fourth nomination in five years. But the real credit here should go to Weir, whose transformation of O'Brian's novels into a completely literate and engrossing on-screen drama deserves nothing short of the highest honor. Master and Commander is a masterpiece.

The far side of the dinghy.



Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Facts and Figures

Run time: 138 mins

In Theaters: Friday 14th November 2003

Box Office USA: $93.9M

Box Office Worldwide: $212M

Budget: $150M

Distributed by: 20th Century Fox

Production compaines: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation., Miramax Films, Universal Pictures, Samuel Goldwyn Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Fresh: 176 Rotten: 32

IMDB: 7.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Samuel Goldwyn Jr., ,

Starring: as Captain Jack Aubrey, as Dr. Stephen Maturin, as 1st Lt. Tom Pullings, as Barrent Bonden, as William Warley, Cpt. of Mizzentop, Edward Woodall as 2nd Lt. William Mowett, Chris Larkin as Capt. Howard, Max Pirkis as Blakeney, Jack Randall as Boyle, Max Benitz as Calamy, as Hollom, Richard Pates as Williamson, Robert Pugh as Mr. Allen, as Mr. Higgins, as Mr. Hollar, Tony Dolan as Mr. Lamb, as Preserved Killick, Bryan Dick as Joseph Nagle, as Joe Plaice, William Mannering as Faster Doudle, as Awkward Davies, Alex Palmer as Nehemiah Slade, as Mr. Hogg, as Padeen, Ousmane Thiam as Black Bill, Thierry Segall as French Captain

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Cars 3 Movie Review

Cars 3 Movie Review

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in...

The Beguiled Movie Review

The Beguiled Movie Review

In her inimitable loose style, Sofia Coppola remakes the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie from a...

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

The surprisingly thoughtful prequel trilogy comes to a powerful conclusion with this robust, dramatic thriller,...

It Comes At Night Movie Review

It Comes At Night Movie Review

This sharply original horror film not only approaches its premise from an unexpected angle, but...

Okja Movie Review

Okja Movie Review

As Tilda Swinton reteams with her Snowpiercer director, Korea's Bong Joon Ho, it's perhaps unsurprising...

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

This may be the third reboot of this franchise in 15 years, risking audience exhaustion,...

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Actually the fourth film in the series (don't forget the prequel Minions), this animated super-villain...

Advertisement
Baby Driver Movie Review

Baby Driver Movie Review

Wildly energetic and so cool it hurts, this action movie has been put together in...

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

There's a clear sense that this Tupac Shakur biopic is hoping to build on the...

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.