Film: Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

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Film:

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Director: Peter Weir
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Distributor: 20th Century Fox

In the capable hands of director Peter Weir, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is a seafaring adventure like no other, impeccably authentic, dynamically cast, and thrilling enough to give any classic swashbuckler a run for its money. In adapting two of Patrick O’Brian’s enormously popular novels about British naval hero Capt. Jack Aubrey, Weir and cowriter John Collee have changed the timeframe from the British/American war of 1812 to the British/French opposition of 1805, where the HMS Surprise, under Aubrey’s confident command, is…

Reviews

Amazon.com

In the capable hands of director Peter Weir, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is a seafaring adventure like no other, impeccably authentic, dynamically cast, and thrilling enough to give any classic swashbuckler a run for its money. In adapting two of Patrick O’Brian’s enormously popular novels about British naval hero Capt. Jack Aubrey, Weir and cowriter John Collee have changed the timeframe from the British/American war of 1812 to the British/French opposition of 1805, where the HMS Surprise, under Aubrey’s confident command, is patrolling the South Atlantic in pursuit of the Acheron, a French warship with the strategic advantage of greater size, speed, and artillery. Russell Crowe is outstanding as Aubrey, firm and fiercely loyal, focused on his prey even if it means locking horns with his friend and ship’s surgeon, played by Crowe’s A Beautiful Mind costar Paul Bettany. Employing a seamless combination of carefully matched ocean footage, detailed models, full-scale ships, and CGI enhancements, Weir pays exacting attention to every nautical detail, while maintaining a very human story of honor, warfare, and survival under wretched conditions. Raging storms and hull-shattering battles provide pulse-pounding action, and a visit to the Galapagos Islands lends a note of otherworldly wonder, adding yet another layer of historical perspective to this splendidly epic adventure. —Jeff Shannon

Barnes and Noble

Fans of seafaring sagas along the lines of Horatio Hornblower will be duly enchanted by Master and Commander, a rousing adventure in the grand tradition of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Australian filmmaker Peter Weir wrote and directed this magnificent adaptation of two of Patrick O’Brian’s bestselling novels, set during the Napoleonic period, when Britain still ruled the seas. Charismatic Russell Crowe is perfectly cast as O’Brian’s larger-than-life hero, “Lucky Jack” Aubrey, one of Her Majesty’s most able sea captains. Spotting the French warship Acheron in the waters near South America, he decides—against the urging of his close friend, the ship’s doctor, Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany)—to pursue the phantom raider that has been laying waste to British vessels, calculating that the element of surprise will help him offset the Acheron’s superior speed and armament. While Weir’s adaptation offers its share of thrillingly staged open-seas combat scenes, he unfolds the yarn at a leisurely pace and lavishes a great deal of screen time on the supporting characters, particularly delineating Aubrey’s relationship to his loyal crew. O’Brian’s characters aren’t mythic archetypes—they’re believable, flesh-and-blood entities driven only by their duty to Queen and country. Loyalty, honor, and patriotism aren’t often celebrated in contemporary movies, but Master and Commander reminds us that these qualities still fuel entertaining tales. It’s a gripping film with just about everything you could want: action, suspense, drama, and even a bit of humor. Ed Hulse

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