"Master and Commander: The Far
Side of the World"
Directed by Peter Weir.
Written by Peter Weir and John Collee. Based on the novel
series by Patrick O'Brian.
Starring Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany.
Release Year: 2003
Review Date: 11/17/03
Much like the title “Master and Commander:
The Far Side of the World”, the new Russell Crowe seafaring
adventure is llllllooooonnnnnggggg.
It is this length—and its very familiar
storyline—that takes the film down a notch, but when “Master and
Commander” is good, it is very good. Crowe plays a British sea
captain trying to take his vessel from the coast of Brazil back to
home waters when it is ambushed by a French ship in 1805. After
sustaining heavy damages, the Brits escape more serious harm to make
repairs and go after those French bastards to put them out of their
That much seemed obvious from watching the
trailer. What DIDN’T seem all that obvious was that the first
attack would take place in the first five minutes of the film, and
getting back at those Frenchies would then take place literally TWO
HOURS LATER. So, what do we do for two hours? Well, dear God man!
We must go through hoop after hoop of boat clichés, so of course we
will watch as the men bond below decks, drink, and otherwise be
merry; there will be some drama involving the weather; there will
nearly be a mutiny, and on and on. Director Peter Weir does well
with this hackneyed drama by giving us a beautiful looking movie,
and the special effects are very well done too. His battle
sequences—whoops, all two of them—are awesome; love the sound of
cannon fire, and when we finally get the set piece we wait all movie
long for, at least it delivers by giving us ship-to-ship warfare,
and classic board-the-bad-guy action as Crowe and friends attempt to
take the fight to the Frenchies.
Crowe is once again fantastic. There are
only a few guys that can play the role of larger-than-life hero, and
Crowe continues to prove he IS one of those lucky actors. From the
speeches to the presence to the swordplay, Crowe really takes you to
another world with his performance in “Master and Commander.” Paul
Bettany, so good in
“A Knight’s Tale” as Chaucer a couple years
back, makes a lot out of what seems like it should be a thankless
role as the ship’s doctor and fighting naturalist, and the rest of
the cast yells nautical commands and swigs rum perfectly fine.
“Master and Commander” brings almost nothing
new to the boat battle genre in the grand scheme of things. In the
end though, this film’s look warrants that you should see it in a
theater...just make sure that you bring enough Junior Mints to snack
on while you wait for the finale.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard