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Overall Rating
4.11

Awesome46.11%
Worth A Look: 34.44%
Average: 8.33%
Pretty Bad: 6.67%
Total Crap: 4.44%

9 reviews, 126 user ratings


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Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Rob Gonsalves

"Quick's the word and sharp's the action."
5 stars

Despite its cumbersome title, 'Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World' may be the most richly entertaining large-scale Hollywood movie of 2003.

Its story is simple yet compelling, its characters deftly and economically drawn, its action sequences tough and to-the-point yet never overextended or needlessly gory. In short, it's what used to be called a cracking good yarn, which is good news for the many readers of Patrick O'Brian's popular 20-volume series of sea adventures (of which this movie adapts the first and tenth).

It's 1805, and Napoleon's sea power is extending across the Pacific. Captain Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe), who commands the HMS Surprise, is assigned to stop a particularly durable French vessel, the Acheron, from getting too close to Britain for comfort. We see right from the start how monumental the task is: the Acheron, emerging from dense fog, very nearly blows the Surprise out of the water. From then on, Aubrey is driven to find and dispatch the Acheron, not least because of its insult to his beloved ship. "She's not an old ship," he says, patting a splintered wall. "She's in her prime." Later, rallying his men, he will announce, "This ship is England."

The secret of Russell Crowe's success as a movie star, I think, is not so much his looks -- few above-the-title stars are as willing to let themselves go flabby and/or vulnerable -- as his single-mindedness and his unblinking confidence that his single goal is worth the battle. Lest the poster lead you to expect another dour, humorless Crowe performance on the order of his grim Oscar-night appearances, I should report that Crowe is allowed a bit more lightness as the full-blooded Aubrey, who's not above laughter or even telling really awful jokes (he sells the one about the weevils, though; I laughed). Perhaps he won his Oscar for Gladiator solely because he got through the material without looking ridiculous, but he's always been a prickly and intriguing presence, and he's softened here by the companionship of Aubrey's longtime friend, the naturalist and surgeon Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany, who appeared with Crowe in A Beautiful Mind).

Director Peter Weir, after some years of erratic choices, has risen to the occasion and turned Master and Commander into a sharp example of classical filmmaking -- the sort of meat-and-potatoes directing that shows effortless mastery with no intrusive pizzazz (the last example of it was The Pianist, which won Roman Polanski an Oscar). Weir doesn't get lost inside this big Hollywood machine (which was handled by no fewer than three studios -- Fox, Miramax, and Universal); he submits to the well-read franchise eagerly, with respect but not crippling awe, much like Peter Jackson with his Lord of the Rings movies. There's an exhilaration in the big numbers, like a deadly storm at sea or the final battle between the Surprise (which makes good on its name) and the Acheron. Weir puts to shame the grinding, tense-faced exertions of the Wachowski brothers in The Matrix Revolutions; here, the battles count for something.

Master and Commander may feel to some viewers as if a talented director and cast made an excellent Star Trek movie and took it back to its roots (Star Trek II, for instance, could very easily be rewritten as a 19th-century nautical adventure). Weir doesn't oversell the grit and grime of life on the ocean -- we get that it's hard, dangerous labor. What he and Crowe do is to show us why a crew of reasonably intelligent men, despite some pragmatic doubts now and then, would follow Aubrey on what certainly looks like a suicide mission. Without getting overly jingoistic about king and country (or dying for both), the movie restores some honor to the concept of giving one's life to the sea, the ship, the captain, and God, not necessarily in that order.

It's an undeniably square, throwback movie, but there's no major crime in making 'em like they used to, and doing it this elegantly.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8323&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/09/07 14:48:47
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User Comments

5/02/14 Qqypfvih The prices with the pills in these and then back once more as about all of pounds by curbin 3 stars
9/19/10 Jan Patterson I fell in love with the Sea and the ship. Direction, acting, sound, camera- all A+ 5 stars
6/25/09 Dan One of the best movies I've ever seen. If you enjoy history, this film is for you . 5 stars
1/10/09 Anonymous. i don't usually watch this sort of thing, but i actually enjoyed this. 4 stars
12/02/08 Chris Stunningly well-made modern classic, gripping intellectual drama 5 stars
11/03/08 Shaun Wallner Well made. 5 stars
9/26/08 Annie G My guys love this film, but I’ve never managed to stay awake through it. 3 stars
5/21/08 PAUL SHORTT THIS EPIC ADVENTURE STEERS A TRUE COURSE THROUGH STORM AND SACRIFICE AND ARRIVES TRIUMPHANT 5 stars
11/21/07 G. Webster loved it! visually beautiful.great acting by russell crowe 5 stars
9/25/07 Joe Kacmarynski One of the BEST films I have ever seen. A real Swashbuckler, but yet poignant. 5 stars
7/08/07 crombie excellent-to those with a brain, not a joystick 5 stars
4/21/07 Tarik WOUNDERFUL FILM , Best scene is the scene with the fog when the acheron attacked the Surpri 5 stars
3/11/07 Roy F. Moore Special effects and music made this film soar...or sail, as the case may be. 5 stars
1/05/07 Watch This Movie! possibly one of the greatest depictions of life on a ship of war ever. 5 stars
1/02/07 MO very gripping and exciting. good characters mostly. 5 stars
9/28/06 BadBoy Fantastic scenery and massive sets,a lot of wrk has gone into this film.Russle Crow ws GR8! 5 stars
9/13/06 Bitchflaps Exciting, but dumb. Would have benefitted from the omission of its talkier segments. 4 stars
8/22/06 jeanne You've got to love a man who can perform abdominal surgery on himself! Bravo! 5 stars
6/25/06 MP Bartley Terrific attention to detail, great characters, super action. Weir does it again 5 stars
6/10/06 Dan One of the best movies my eyes have ever had the good graces of grazing. 5 stars
5/21/06 Kcaj ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
5/03/06 R.W.Welch Runs on a bit but well captures the era of wooden ships and iron men. 4 stars
2/26/06 Quigley the movie is a bore most of the time, with really choppy confused action. russell was great 2 stars
1/08/06 gerry dunne best movie of this decade so far (jan 20060 5 stars
11/26/05 Joe Z Its not just an adventure film for adults its incredible for everyone my second favorite mo 5 stars
11/21/05 tatum The best seafaring movie ever 5 stars
11/11/05 Bob Paddington 4 stars
11/06/05 Ken Schroeder It's a slice of life on the salty seas; it's all about the journey. 2 stars
9/29/05 Jessica An AMAZING Movie......I Love Watching It! 5 stars
9/19/05 Jonathon Holmes zzzzzzzzz 2 stars
8/19/05 ES lesser of two weevils = priceless 3 stars
6/17/05 Hasanin Abdelsamad an excellent film,i almost lived among the details 5 stars
5/24/05 Nathan Westfall one of the greatest movies I have ever seen 5 stars
5/07/05 smitty A truly breathtaking film, but bloody beastly trying to decipher what the hell's being said 4 stars
4/25/05 Quigley this awful movie screams "STYLE OVER SUBSTANCE!" Even Russsell Crowe can't save this oyster 1 stars
4/04/05 Ric A thrilling journey, this is a sweeping adventure that matches the best of naval cinema. 5 stars
2/17/05 kathleen4691 Good film, but don't expect the book. 4 stars
1/29/05 Don GREAT! 5 stars
1/22/05 Tjalda L. Schiel Terrific rendition of O'Brien's work. 5 stars
11/17/04 Danish Cookie Two thumbs way down. Crowe worst movie 1 stars
11/12/04 anti - russell crowe this movie should be banned!!! It gave me a panic attack from the gory scenes! terrible! 1 stars
11/01/04 Charles S. Lewis by far..and outstanding film! When does the adventure continue? 5 stars
10/12/04 Marilee An absolutely splendid film. I was pulled into the world of the sailors and swept along. 5 stars
9/12/04 Dan Wtf? Pwnt. 5 stars
8/14/04 Daveman Terrific fun. Paul Bettany is outstanding, Crowe is pretty damn great too. 4 stars
8/09/04 Ron Good but the novels by Patrick O'Brian are even better. 4 stars
7/30/04 DJ Wtf? Pwnt. 5 stars
7/30/04 Phil boorrriiiiinnnngg!!!!!!! too long, not enough action.....*sigh* 2 stars
7/20/04 Harry J Pretty good. Seeing it once is enough though. 4 stars
7/20/04 Stephanie I loved this movie more than life itself. James D'arcy was fabulous! 5 stars
7/12/04 Dan I'm a 16 year old kid, and let me tell you. This movie rocks. 5 stars
7/01/04 Mikey Crunt But the books had gay sex scenes. Where were they?? 3 stars
6/23/04 Phil M. Aficionado Well crafted, acted, and filmed. Engaging character (Crowe). Needs subtitles for accents. 4 stars
6/20/04 Jim Pretty good sea battles and performances, like "Star Trek" on the ocean. 4 stars
6/19/04 Denise Duspiva good but i would have liked a little more story 4 stars
6/08/04 Ron Miller Good.... but Best movie nominee... don't think so! 3 stars
6/07/04 Caroline LOVED the music, scenery, and acting- will definitely buy DVD 5 stars
6/04/04 Gregmond Liked it :) 5 stars
6/03/04 Littlepurch Kid whose arm was amputated is my gran's, sister-in law's, friend's grandson! I'm so proud! 5 stars
5/31/04 Nobody Great with a capital G!!! 5 stars
5/30/04 Frazier Worth a look, a one time see, but surprisingly boring. 4 stars
5/29/04 Irene fantastic and wonderfully historical 5 stars
4/29/04 Taylor Fladgate Grandiose scenery, thin plot & script. 3 stars
4/24/04 Shams Huque Good looking film - overrated though. 4 stars
4/20/04 ALI HBOUS the cinematography is a work of art 4 stars
4/17/04 Albert H. Taylor Jr. I've read the book and I like the movie. 4 stars
3/09/04 holly awesome! 5 stars
3/06/04 Goofy Maxwell Refreshing adventure, driven more by curiosity than character. 4 stars
2/10/04 Jenny Tullwartz Another super-hyped "What's all the fuss about" film. Galápagos scenes only intresting part 3 stars
2/03/04 Alexia Katz Thin on plot, yet so compelling that it is impossible to look away 5 stars
1/20/04 Suzi Mitchell loved every minute 5 stars
1/11/04 Angela The film's exciting indeed, but not deep enough...another typical hollywood piece?! 3 stars
1/06/04 Chris Alittle too long and not enough plotlines but still very good. Crowe is oscar worthy. 4 stars
1/03/04 Tony Mazzeo Read the books Movie works 4 stars
1/02/04 OnlyChild Storm scenes were amazing, other than that, it was bordering on boring 3 stars
12/30/03 John Bale Crowe is no Laughton, but gritty creation of 19th c. Naval life is excellent 5 stars
12/29/03 Michael Strauss Re: "Master and Commander/ The Far Side of the World" I cannot take it any longer. How can 1 stars
12/27/03 Elizabeth Loved it! History on the high seas. 5 stars
12/26/03 Jon Fine except the plot was terrible. I found myself not caring about the characters. 3 stars
12/26/03 PATRICK Very realistic battles, good story, good soundtrack 5 stars
12/20/03 Martha Cast A fine rendition of some excellent books, although they put too many of them in one movie 5 stars
12/19/03 Zanthan A movie about men taking action and making their own destiny, not just fulfilling one. 5 stars
12/18/03 alien assassin Grow up and get a life, Mike. This is one of the BEST films of 2003 !!!! 5 stars
12/12/03 Mike This film was boring and awful in every respect 1 stars
12/11/03 ira crowe undoubtedly, an oscar contender 5 stars
12/05/03 Helen Bradley great photography, poor acting/script 2 stars
12/05/03 katsat Well-made, lotsa action but character development was sacrificed. Not my cuppa tea. 3 stars
12/05/03 Terry Stewart One of the best this year 5 stars
12/04/03 CK Better sea battle sequence than Pirates of the Car..whatever 5 stars
12/04/03 Koitus "Okay." Pity the woman in my row .. she was "tappity, tappity" at "those" two scenes! ;-) 3 stars
12/02/03 moira I thought it was very enjoyable! 4 stars
12/02/03 Dan the Man Really great sea adventure 5 stars
12/01/03 KingNeutron Deserves better reviews. Some grim scenes, but enjoyable anyway. 5 stars
11/30/03 john a sensational adventure movie - 5 stars
11/26/03 Lord Chu Love it. 5 stars
11/26/03 Gi Gi the amputation scene was awesome 5 stars
11/25/03 nancy I loved it! Plenty of character development plus action. 5 stars
11/23/03 Mary I saw 3 awesome seconds, some really fake scenes, the rest was average.. 4 stars
11/22/03 Walton This is a complete piece of trash. 1 stars
11/22/03 Fitz This movie expects more out o f the viewer, then most movies. Enjoyable! 4 stars
11/21/03 Artist Freak Good solid high seas adventure. Not great art, but good fun. 4 stars
11/21/03 homer simpson Great battle scenes, other wise it sucked 3 stars
11/21/03 horndog huh? oh I just woke up after my nap during this turd! 1 stars
11/21/03 Andrew The name is enough - I refuse to pay money to see this turd baby! 5 stars
11/20/03 Brian Lutz Most overrated film of 2003...or ever 2 stars
11/20/03 Jack Bourbon A classic a la Shawshank. Not GREAT filmmaking, but solid and entertaining for sure 4 stars
11/19/03 Josh Standlee It was okay, but not Oscar worthy. 3 stars
11/19/03 john excellent , fun, sound fine 5 stars
11/19/03 Johnny's Been Rotten I saw it. I loved it. 5 stars
11/19/03 Buffalo Mike Very good, excellent cinimatography. However, will dissapoint video game freaks and cats. 5 stars
11/18/03 Joe Entertaining, but felt like a mishmash of highlights of incidents in the books. 3 stars
11/18/03 gioconda alberi aw c'mon guys this is pretty great compared to the malarkey that's been released this year 4 stars
11/18/03 Alonzo P. Tucker i thought it was "Masturbating Commander", but nun the less enjoyed it. 5 stars
11/18/03 Elizaveta lots of fun! strong cast, plain good entertainment 5 stars
11/17/03 Lord Jiggy Lacked something...but still fairly compelling 4 stars
11/17/03 paganchyk High action and subtle character interplay - gorgeous 5 stars
11/17/03 Margaret Zumas Naval history with heart 4 stars
11/17/03 Bitty Art film meets documentary 4 stars
11/17/03 Ryan Beautiful, sometimes exciting, nice detail... 4 stars
11/17/03 malcolm a guy movie in the caliber of 'Shane' 5 stars
11/16/03 Aaron Shore Just like being there in 1805 4 stars
11/16/03 Cameron Slick An extremely realistic, high seas adventure. 4 stars
11/15/03 Rikyrah Snow I don't usually watch Russell Crow movies. But, I LOVED this one. 5 stars
11/15/03 RLBucko very solid but for an O'Brien reader the plot is drawn from several books - causing literar 4 stars
11/15/03 Farker it's not a "massive galleon", Scott!!! 5 stars
11/15/03 Zengator very true to the books = great action + characters 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  14-Nov-2003 (PG-13)
  DVD: 20-Apr-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  04-Dec-2003


Directed by
  Peter Weir

Written by
  Peter Weir
  John Collee

Cast
  Russell Crowe
  Paul Bettany
  Billy Boyd
  James d'Arcy
  Lee Ingleby
  George Innes



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