out of 4
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Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
|*Also starring: ||Billy Boyd, George Innes, James D'Arcy, Max Benitz, Lee Ingleby, Mark Lewis Jones, Richard McCabe, John DeSantis, Chris Larkin, Ian Mercer||
Review by Susan Granger
3½ stars out of 4
Set in 1805 during the Napoleonic Wars, this epic adventure begins off
the coast of Brazil. British Captain "Lucky" Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe) is
stunned when his 28-gun warship, the HMS Surprise, is unexpectedly attacked and
badly damaged not once but twice by the French frigate Acheron. Determined to
find his elusive enemy, he tenaciously charts a dangerous, high-stakes chase
across two oceans to the Galapagos Islands on the far side of the world.
Based on Patrick O'Brian's historical novels, Australian
writer/director/producer Peter Weir ("Gallipoli," "Dead Poets Society," "The
Truman Show") and co-writer John Collee powerfully, yet subtly, create a
fiercely complex yet fair-minded military hero - think Capt. Horatio
Hornblower/ Capt. Ahab - and the intriguing individuals who comprise his bold
and daring crew.
There's the ship's surgeon, Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany), an
aristocratic naturalist who's intrigued by the unique species of the Galapagos
Islands. While they relax playing violin/cello duets, the Aubrey/Maturin
friendship psychologically pits the conflicted traditionalist against the
modernist. It's natural for them to develop an emotional attachment to the
young midshipmen who deliver powder to the gun crews, particularly 12 year-old
Lord Blakeney (Max Pirkis). Russell Boyd's cinematography, ILM's visual
effects, William Sandell's production design and Lee Smith's editing generate a
harrowingly vivid authenticity to this claustrophobic, wooden world. It's just
too bad that patches of dialogue are unintelligible amid the noise and
confusion. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Master and Commander: The
Far Side of the World" is a thrilling, sea-worthy 9. Embark on a rousing voyage
in one of the year's best adventures.
Copyright © 2003 Susan Granger
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