Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003) – Originally written November 2003
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Every so often, a few friends of mine will read the 40 or so reviews I’ve done over the months on this website, and will make some comical opinion regarding them. Truth be told, I don’t care anymore. What I hate is when I go to see a film with someone and come out in admiration of the creators and awe at the film itself, yet someone else comes out and instantly condemns part of it. This happened with “Master and Commander”.
In this film, we’re introduced to Captain Jack “Lucky” Aubrey (played with an almost Maximus type persona by Russell Crowe who could possibly win the oscar for this). Aubrey is the captain of the HMS Surprise (yes, I know it’s not the best of ship names, but I don’t need someone in the cinema mentioning this the second the name is mentioned!), a British ship during the Napoleonic Wars which has been stationed to the seas around Brazil with the mission to stop a French ship from stealing british Whaler’s goods. Aubrey is joined by a crew of varied types, including Billy Boyd in his first performance since playing Pippin in “Lord Of The Rings”, and most importantly his best friend and ship’s Medic Dr Stephen Maturin, played majestically by Paul Bettany (who ironically is playing Crowe’s best friend for not the first time, having appeared as his imaginery friend in “A Beautiful Mind”). The film continues along the similar sort of path as for two hours, Crowe almost constantly chases the French ship, stopping only partially at the Galapagos Islands, and involves a fair few battles against the French and against nature.
What can be said about this film? Well, theres limited cgi in this film, meaning that everything which takes place revolves around a real life boat created from scratch and actually taken out onto the sea’s for shooting. The acting is spot on, and the realism is accurate, showing us just how gritty it was aboard boats in the old days. This film reminds us just how lucky we should feel about being alive in this era rather than centuries before. Whilst I do confess at times, the characterisation drags a bit and some of the characters don’t really connect to us on a higher level, attempts are made for some of them. Bettany in particular is easy to associate with, and if the guy doesn’t get Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars then there really is something wrong with the world, and also an unfortunate officer is developed for us to pity and bond with.
I guess really, there isn’t too much to be said about this film. This could possibly be one of it’s flaws. When it is released on DVD & VHS, I look forward to reading the blurb on the back of the box, simply because I’m sceptical it could be anything more than three lines. Crowe & Company chase a French ship around the Far Side of the World for two and a half hours. That’s all that can really be said to be honest. As far as twists and turns go, there aren’t any. The plot is straightforward, VERY simple, and ultimately this doesn’t matter one bit. This film is something you can’t really do justice to when describing it. Some of the best films of the last few years (this, “A Beautiful Mind”, “Adaptation”, etc) were beautiful, not because they were crammed with events, but because with the few minor events they did contain, they developed grit filled beauty on a high scale.
Will this film win any Oscars? Currently it’s a lot of people’s favourite to scoop at least one of the big ones, I’m unsure though. I think it was amazing, but it doesn’t seem like something Oscar would really plump for. Then again though, I never thought Gladiator would scoop many awards and that proved me wrong. Watch this film, but if you get sea sick, take a bag in with you.