Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Dan Goldwasser Movie Reviews

Matt got sick and couldn’t come to the film tonight, which ended up being a blessing for Messrob, who was dying to see this film. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is the latest film by director Peter Weir, based on a classic 20-book anthology by Patrick O’Brian. This film was excellent – probably one of the best films of the year. It had everything in it – drama, tension, action, adventure, mystery, comedy, and ultimately was an incredibly realistic depiction of life in the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars.

Russell Crowe is excellent as Captain Jack Aubrey, who is hunting the French vessell “Acheron”, which is aiming to go around to the Pacific Ocean. Doing so would open up a new front in the war, and Aubrey must stop them. That’s the basic plot; the film is spent primarily with the characters and their relationships and interactions. There’s a lot of talk of honor, integrity, and doing what is right. Aubrey’s best friend and ship’s surgeon (Paul Bettany) acts as Aubrey’s more human side, when the military side takes over. There’s a lot of stuff that happens in this 2-hour and 15-minute long film, and I shant go into nitpicky details. I will say, though, that the drama is engaging, the pace of the film is excellent (never boring) and when it was over, I wanted to see more of it.

The music, as with any Peter Weir film, is not straight-up film score. Classical source cues intermixed with a score by Christopher Gordon (and two other soloists) weave a rich sonic tapesty that is accentuated only by the ever-present creaking of the wood in the boat. The sound in this film is excellent and immersive, and the visual effects are nearly seamless.

We’re in November now, and we finally get another real Oscar-worthy film. Between The Matrix Revolutions and Looney Tunes: Back in Action, be sure to make time to see Master and Commander. It’s nothing like Pirates of the Caribbean, but it’s sure one hell of a ride.