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Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World 2003

During the Napoleonic Wars, a brash British captain pushes his ship and crew to their limits in pursuit of a formidable French war vessel around South America...

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Solar rating: 7.4


Imdb rating: 7.4

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A good movie to revisit every couple a years...8/10
I really liked it. It's definitely a good film though not quite an epic like the Brando type old school ones. A well deserved 7.9/10
really enjoyed this movie, great story,pace,acting,photography 8/10
What a classic...such an incredible film on so many different levels; 10/10.
I went to a preview! My friend who works at a barn that I vouliteer at got the tickets. A lady who keeps her horse there helps pramote movies. So we were Cotten the horse's gest:D We got there at 5pm and the line was already huge. We were behind at least 150 people, We stood in line for like an hour, the movie did not start tell 7pm. We the lady that owns Cotten found us and told us to go right on in :D So we walked past all the cold people right in to the warm warm thearter :D and we go special seats too! The movie was great! we had saround sound, comfy seats. It was like you were there on the ship:) Russell Crowe did a wonderful job as the Captain and and guess what? his name was Jack:D This movie has a great cast Billy B. the guythat played Pippen in "Lord of the Rings" he was in it. The actor from "A Knights tale" and "A Beautiful minds" was in it.
I would say its a most see movie! now go out and see it!
I just saw Master and Commander, and thought it was a fantastic historical adventure film. I love movies that take you on a journey, like this one does, and has hardly a dull moment along the way. If felt kind of like a big reunion of actors who have played in other epic films at times. There's Russell Crowe as Captain Jack Aubrey, Paul Bettany (who costarred with Crowe as his roommate in A Beautiful Mind and also stole every scene in the swords-and-chivalry flick A Knight's Tale) as the ship's doctor, and the guy who played the announcer at the Coliseum in Gladiator is one of the officers. Billy Boyd (Pippin in the Lord of the Rings movies) also makes an appearance as the helmsman (or whatever they call the guy who steers the ship). It will be interesting to see how well this one does at the box office, or if it earns back the $130+ million spent on it. If it's a blockbuster, I'm sure we'll see a sequel or two, maybe even a series of them like the A&E network's excellent productions of Horatio Hornblower. A very good film overall and probably a lock for my ten best list for 2003.
So, I finally saw M & C after a long wait to be sure. I have to say I was a little disappointed, I thought it would be my favorite movie thus far this year. However, that was not the case. But, I did like the movie quite a bit. I thought it lacked some emotion, although Peter Weir tried to get a tear out of you.

Crowe was excellent as always and could be an Oscar candidate, if the year finishes as slow as it has begun. My favorite performace is Paul Bettany though, he deseveres an Oscar nod for sure.

I'm kinda tired so that about all I'll put for now, suffice is to say it was a very well made film with excellent performances that just left me a little cold.

Rating: B+
Ok, I saw Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World tonight and I loved it. It's quite an amazing feat of filmmaking wizardry, brilliant storytelling, quiet, human scenes, roaring battle scenes, and just awe-inspiring super-coolness. Go see it now.
Although its plot is a bit overstuffed - though that's not unlike the novels on which the film was based, so perhaps it makes sense - Master and Commander is an impressively mounted film with solid action, good characterizations and a wealth of period detail. I don't know if it's the film to beat at the Oscars as some critics are suggesting, but it certainly deserves some nominations (Weir, Bettany, probably Crowe, and a host of technical ones, at least).

Review: Master and Commander

I was also surprised at the film's popularity. Opening night, sure, but it's not exactly Spiderman 2 or something. The 9:25 show was sold out almost an hour in advance, and the 10:35 show - and even for a Friday night that's usually later than a lot of people want to see a movie, in my experience - came pretty close to filling up (and had a good-sized line waiting to get in by 10 o'clock), possibly due to 9:25 spill-over. I'd sooner people give their money to Lost in Translation or Shattered Glass, both of which were also playing, but it's at least nice to see this one making some money, since its budget was huge and you might think "Russell Crowe sailing movie, maybe not a huge hit."


We are living in a filmmaking age where very few directors would try their hand at a serious seafaring film. Surely, we can make do (spectacularly so) with a farcical, skewed vision of the genre, as seen in Pirates of the Caribbean. However, today, a director is loathe to attempt a dramatic sea-worthy story. I am, of course, speaking in specific terms -- submarine films and the like don't really count when talking about "the high seas" since the term has chronological connotations. One of the last worthy films to extensively use "the high seas" was the made-for-tv-movie Longitude with Michael Gambon -- quite a worthy film indeed. Perhaps it is the somewhat inherent silliness in the genre? Or the dated quality? After all, we are not running around on enormous, rickety, wooden boats anymore, firing canons at the French (we've at least moved on to iron boats). However, Peter Weir has made the bold and foolish move of putting us on one of those wooden boats, and he has made the even bolder and even more foolish move of making us take it seriously.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is based on the equally voluminously titled-and-catalogued set of books written by Patrick O'Brien. I have not read them. Might as well get that out. I can, however, imagine their likeness and quality if the film gives me anything to go on. Given the series, one would expect a possible franchise festering in the wings as we speak. However, I find this somewhat unlikely for a few reasons: one, there are just too many of them to do justice; two, they seem more historically satisfying than temporarily entertaining in nature; three, the current film may not make back its reported $120 million or more. Peter Weir's film is far too broad, rich, patient -- and therefore excellent -- for it to succeed with the masses in the same way that the aforementioned Pirates has. Of course, I may be proven wrong. I hope I'm proven wrong. A film does not need to make back its budget to be a success. However, at my screening, the audience was not of the repeat-attenders variety, if you know what I mean.

That being addressed, I had somewhat tempered hopes for M & C. The exciting trailer gives the impression of a high-stakes cat and mouse game between two cunning sea-captains during a time of political unrest. While this accurately describes the surface of the film, there is so much more that one could ascribe a kind of near-false-advertising to the marketing. The film is only bookended by gripping action setpieces. Well-directed and executed in that loud, realistically chaotic fashion, the action sequences serve the film much as the supports at each end serve a rope bridge drawn between them. To those complaining of the "boring" middle-passage, I say to them, "One could not walk across a bridge without planks, no?" Weir understands this basic concept, and uses the action sequences to prop up the planks: his characters, his story, his ship.

First and foremost, Weir is one hell of an underrated and underseen director. The Aussie oddity has made films since the 70s yet has only truly become popular in the last few years with the release of such crowd-pleasers as Dead Poet's Society and The Truman Show. Note the use of the phrase "crowd pleasers." Sadly enough, his acclaimed-but-stranger work in Picnic at Hanging Rock, Gallipoli, Witness, The Mosquito Coast, and others, has not become general household knowledge. Certainly, some of this comes from his "foreign" background (foreign to Americans at least). However, I predict and hope that Master and Commander will catapult him into a domestic light he richly deserves. His work here is assured, modest, and above all, thoroughly rewarding.

The film concerns the legendary Captain "Lucky" Jack Aubrey, his ship the H.M.S. Surprise, and the orders he so willfully attempts to carry out over the course of several weeks' sailing. Charged to find the French Acheron and detain or secure it, Aubrey becomes more and more distressed (and probably secretly pleased) to find so worthy a foe in the phantomish French ship and captain. The film opens with the Surprise being caught offguard and paying savagely for it. His foe being thus revealed to him, Aubrey exceeds his orders in his progressively dangerous attempts to find his quarry. My one wish for the film is a small one: take out the first three words of the title. The series may extol the virtues of this heroic and inspiring captain, and the film may use him decidedly as the primary focus of the story, but the situation here more accurately reflects an adventure-epic, one with many characters, problems, relationships, and solutions. Crowe beautifully and quaintly commands the audience's attention, certainly, but isn't that to be expected in the first place? What surprised me even more than Crowe's usually-excellent performance was the outright and splendid distinction of the entire cast.

Weir has crafted a sprawling film indeed. The ashen photography, authentic art direction, and jittery score give a palpable magnitude to the proceedings. It goes without saying, of course, that there is a certain familiarity to those proceedings. There is a certain identifiable triteness to all of this. However, I was most pleased to discover that this did not lessen my admiration for the film at all. I simply took it in stride, confident that these archetypal characters and events were typical, everyday occurences of the time. You simply can't have a film about the high seas without including a scene where the ship gets stranded for days in the hot sun with no wind to assist. It would lessen the impact of the atmosphere. It would reduce the power of the chase. The hunter and the hunted would have things too easy.

However many cliches Weir employs, he never makes the mistake of relying on them entirely. The freshness of the film comes from the personality of the characters, the vividness of their plight, and the purity of the actors. Again, the film would have sunk right to the bottom if it had not the universally excellent supporting cast. Paul Bettany in particular adds a low-key, heartfelt element to the film. I also fully believe that the "supporting ensemble" worked so well because there were so many unknown actors. Only Billy Boyd stuck out as an identifiable movie actor, and he was still quite good. The rest blend in with their ragged clothes, their rotten teeth, their red facial scars. The younger actors in particular show no signs of cloying-child-actor behavior, and one in particular gives an outright amazing performance.

The heart of the film is the ship, the hundred some souls stranded on it, and the relationships between them, particularly Crowe's and Bettany's. It would have been easy for Weir to cut out everything but the cat and mouse game, and the relationship between the Captain and his best friend. They are the primary reasons for the film's success, and they are indeed finely textured, nuances portions. However, in keeping the rest of the ship's crew so front and center, Weir adds substantially to the weight and impact of the film. It's a striking, fully-realized, believable world. It's a world that has the time to sit down and play a few tunes, sing a few songs, tell a few jokes. That is not to say there is no fat, no excess. Of course there is. What accomplished, fully-realized, thoroughly-detailed world could do without that, too?

**** out of **** (upon reflection)

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