Thursday, December 04, 2003

Movie Review(Master and Commander)...

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Russell Crowe is arguably the best actor of his generation. I first noticed him in ‘L.A. Confidential’ and since then I have been a big fan of his work. The gritty realism he brings to the screen is perfect for the role of Jack Aubrey, captain of the HMS Surprise. Set in 1805, during the Napoleonic Wars, Master and Commander has been billed as the most realistic representation of seafaring life at the time. The painstaking detail is unsurprising as this movie was budgeted at $135 million.

Director Peter Weir (The Truman Show, Dead Poets Society) was inspired by the novels of Patrick O’ Brien, a series of twenty books written in meticulous detail. The task of adapting a book to film proved to be difficult, so the movie combines two of the novels. HMS Surprise is charged with the task of intercepting The Acheron, a French frigate determined to spread war. The Acheron is the far superior vessel and has more than twice the guns and numbers of The Surprise. During their first battle, the latter inevitably fares poorly.

Captain Jack has his heart firmly set on revenge, and despite the warnings of the ships doctor, his old friend Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany), continues the pursuit. Armed with some inspired writing, the supporting cast do a fine job here. Bettany had starred previously with Crowe in ‘A Beautiful Mind’ and each complements the others talents extraordinarily well.

With not a single female lead, and a hero whom many will have trouble relating to, it is difficult to assess the films potential success. Hopefully with good word of mouth, it will receive the attention it deserves. With Oscar worthy performances and an engaging tale from start to finish, Master and Commander is highly recommended viewing.

4.5 out of 5