Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World Reviews

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July 23, 2016
A good movie with great action and acting
July 6, 2016
A good old naval battle film that's good in the action but lack of any real story as it's just mostly 2 ships hunting each other until the final showdown which was brilliant and very entertaining, Russell Crowe was brilliant as he always is and he makes the film go by smoother, The film tries to make us care about the cast more than we would like and it does make for slow watching at times but it's still entertaining with some great acting and very well shot battle scenes, Yet another movie I waited too long to see, Don't do the same as me, It's worth a view.
July 3, 2016
Russel Crowe in one of his strongest roles, combined with some stunning moviemaking with tremendous scale. Glorious movie!
June 27, 2016
Grand and often very powerful, this seafaring adventure accounts the tests and decisions a commander faces, on top of being entertaining.
June 20, 2016
A powerful, if relatively lacking in straight entertainment, look into the lives of ordinary naval sailors in the Napoleonic wars, with epic battles, tense drama, and fantastic performances by Russell Crowe and Paul Betaney.
Super Reviewer
½ May 2, 2016
Epic in scope but also personal in it's ideas, Master and Commander is a smart and visually amazing that never forgets the humanity in it's center - while also delivering stellar action set-pieces.
April 27, 2016
Amazing movie. Acting, writing, and the boat made for one of my favorite movies.
April 23, 2016
I'm glad I listened to the people who said this was underappreciated, because I otherwise had pretty much written it off as a boring, romantic, Hornblower-esque rousing naval adventure based on its outward appearance. Was not expecting the creepy, foreboding atmosphere (mostly due to the brilliant use of score), incredible tension, and brutal, gut-wrenching action.
Super Reviewer
March 6, 2016
The fictional epic sea yarns of Captain Jack Aubrey during the Napoleonic Wars in the early 1800's. This movie is an adaptation of a series of sea naval novels by Patrick O' Brian. The plot and characters being comprised of various segments from various novels in the Maturin series, the main two being obviously [i]Master and Commander[/i] and [i]HMS Surprise[/i] (there are 20 novels in the series).

The story starts of seeing Aubrey (Russell Crowe) of the HMS Surprise under attack from the French vessel (Privateer) Acheron, the very vessel Aubrey is under orders to seek and destroy basically. The French ship is stronger and faster leaving the Surprise heavily damaged, nevertheless Aubrey carries on with the hunt. The British follow the ship to hell and back through savage storms and freezing weather conditions trying to stop the French from attacking British whaling ships. Eventually whilst docked within the Galapagos Islands they stumble across the French and see an opportunity for attack, but in order to secure victory Aubrey must come up with something devilishly cunning in order to get in close to the French vessel.

Now admittedly this plot might seem dull if you think about it, blokes on old galleons, old fashioned Euro politics, period costumes, stiff upper lips everywhere etc...but you'd be wrong. The movie starts with a bang as Aubrey must fend off the French frigate that appears out of a thick sea fog like a ghost. The flash of multiple cannons is seen in the fog and the Surprise is hit seconds later in an explosion of timber. Men and boys scurry for their lives as various wooden features across the ships main deck are torn apart by the blast, showering everyone in splinters. The frigate emerges from its advantageous position to the shock and annoyance of Aubrey, hundreds of men toil feverishly to get the ships guns primed and ready before the frigate can come about for another attack. Aubrey remains cool and collected as he prepares himself, [i]sharp shooters to the top Mr Howard[/i], [i]stand tall on the quarter deck son, all of us[/i], [i]Mr Boyle, run up the colours[/i], [i]note for the log Mr Watt[/i]...as he is handed his tricorne. The Surprise is hit again and again, men are blown inwards by the shells, cut to pieces by the shrapnel. Those that are still alive are dragged down below for the ships doctor Maturin (Paul Bettany) to try and keep alive in his blood soaked quarters. The two warships are now virtually on top of each other, the Surprise heavily damaged with a smashed rudder. In desperation boats are dropped full of men to tow the lame Surprise as the French Acheron closes in. With luck the Surprise is pulled into another fog bank and manages to evade the French frigate, all is calm.

From this one sequence you can see how much of a rip-roaring epic this movie is gonna be, it also highlights the immense levels of realism and authenticity on display. So lets talk about that, the realism. Well for starters most the of scenes were filmed on a huge full scale replica of the HMS Rose (later renamed Surprise in honour of this film), a ship based on a 17th century 20 gun frigate. Now admittedly you can tell this, or I could, by the way the camera always pans around the hull of the ship and never drops below to actually show the sea, but apart from that this large set on gimbals is amazingly realistic looking from bow to stern. At other times the cast were shot on-board the real HMS Rose to capture some awe-inspiring panoramic shots at sea. Sure I don't exactly know how an 18th century vessel would look, but I have a rough idea like many people would, and what we see here is really impressive right down to the tiniest details. The main deck is a mass of ropes, rope ladders and knots, draped, hanging and looping all over the place. Everything is of course made of wood which naturally seems very fragile but rigid (the fear of splinters plays on ones mind), the doctor uses sand on the blood soaked floor to get a better grip when dealing with injuries, hourglasses are used as a measure of time, and everything is generally very dim because only candles light the way.

Its not all about battles and blood though, much of what we see is simply natural life on-board ship as they sail from point to point. The officers quarters are, as you would expect, spic-and-span with a grand but not overly lavish trim. The ships top gentry may enjoy a fine drink in the Captains quarters whilst discussing their next move, or they dine together whilst surrounded by their lower ranking officers, or the Captain and the doctor might engage in some classical music renditions utilising cello and violin. This one aspect shows their upbringing, their well-rounded, cultural backgrounds, as does their boardroom-esque arguments which often swing from strategy to philosophy again displaying the wealth of knowledge both men have. On the flips side the lower sections of the ship are a much darker, bleaker affair where the grunts sleep in hammocks, space is limited, the air is probably pungent and where sickness most probably spreads very easily, although the top decks wouldn't escape that either. Yet despite this its clear to see that Aubrey is a decent man, a well-rounded, genuine, good Captain who cares for his crew no matter which station. He is of course stern but fair, displaying strength and leadership when needed to keep his men in line and loyal to him, but the crew clearly show they are happy to follow their Captain.

Overall on a visual standpoint this film is damn near perfect as far as I'm concerned. The sets and props are all faultless, the costumes are authentic, every actors hairstyle looks actually genuine, the workings of an old 18th century ship seem spot on, the knowledge of the day medically and universally, and distance shots of the Surprise at sea at various times of the day are breathtaking. The fact they managed to film on the Galapagos Islands was also a notch on the movies belt for sure, the film is chock full of money shots.The film also teaches and informs you along the way too. Its amazing to think so many men managed to all cram on-board a ship like this, that there was actually enough room for them, enough food and water etc...It also shows you how strong men must have been back then, when you see the pitch battle between vessels, wood being blown into millions of deadly splinters, bodies flying, blood, limbs, smoke, the noise etc...How on earth did the Captain manage to keep control?! its incredible how every man knew what to do, each and every one of them all very important cogs and gears in a large machine.
It also gets you thinking about the little things, like what did they do with wet clothes? did they have other spare clothes or were they often wet? Did they really manage to rebuild parts of their damaged ship as we see in the film? At the start the Surprise is hit hard and badly damaged, yet the men toil like worker ants and get it all shipshape again, is that accurate? I did also wonder about the whaling ships too, like why were the French so obsessed with sinking British whaling ships? I'm guessing because they were carrying precious blubber which would later be transformed into oil? Did these ships really have many young, high ranking boys on them? You see a good historical film makes you want to know more.

Director Weir definitely captures the essence of a long period at sea, the loneliness, desperation, boredom etc...But this is alleviated by the addition of subplots which allow us to get to know the various crew members better. This being another of the films plus points, the fact that all the characters are well fleshed out, we see small story arcs , we care about them, from the bottom of the barrel, to the officers. On one hand we have the situation where one of the young officers is having real problems instilling discipline amongst the men, he is weak willed and at times shy, the men do not respond to him and refer to him as a 'Jonah'. Then we have a situation where the good doctor is accidentally shot by the Marine officer (who was trying to shoot an Albatross), and must undergo surgery, performed by his own hand with the help of his friend Aubrey. We also see the doctor performing major surgery on an elderly sailor whom we follow throughout, and we see the conflict between Aubrey and Maturin as one wants to defeat the French, and the other wants to push science. [i]'I command a King's ship, not a private yacht, we do not have time for your damned hobbies, Sir!'[/i]. Finally there is the young officer Blakeney who comes under the tutelage of Maturin and Aubrey but for very different things. The young boy shares a passion for biology which Maturin is happy to encourage, where as Aubrey is slowly instilling a sense of authority and honour into the boy, so he can himself, one day, captain a ship. Both main leads show their true character with this development whilst at the same time showing how they play off each other and the crew.

It may sound a tad boring to just follow this band of men around the seas on-board an old galleon, especially as the movie does have that strong vibe of passing time, but this passage is so thoroughly engaging I fail to see how anyone could not get caught up in the adventure. Especially seeing as the producers even went as far as to change the setting from the 1813 Anglo-American war to the 1805 Napoleonic wars so as not to offend any American audiences (ugh!). Nevertheless this film has pretty much everything you could want, its virtually perfect in every field from visuals to acting to score. A rousing high seas adventure with tense, realistic, heart-pounding action. Grand in scope, and deep on human character.
½ February 28, 2016
Great performances, the battle scenes were epic! but the pacing seems a teensy bit bloated.
February 21, 2016
Master and Commander is a perfectly masterful action/adventure film of the highest order. The authentic atmosphere, attention to detail, incredible acting job, expert cinematography, and thorough character writing are all immensely impressive.
½ February 10, 2016
Not sure why or how this got nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, but it is a really good, entertaining film. Crowe really owns the whole movie, even though Paul Bettany is very good here. The success of the film is all on Crowe's charm & ability to carry a film, like he has done many times. I'm not a HUGE Crowe fan, but this might actually be one of my favorite roles/performances from him.
February 6, 2016
Great Russell Crow movie one of his best since Gladiator.
January 27, 2016
If Pirates of the Caribbean is firmly for the kids then Master and Commander is for grown-ups. It is gritty and uncompromising in its depiction of life under sail in the early 1800s. Russell Crowe plays Patrick O'Brian's fictional sea captain, "Lucky" Jack Aubrey and he proves what a fine actor he can be. He oozes charisma as he plays a cat-and-mouse game with a French ship in and around South American waters. It gives a no-holds-barred vision of life below decks on a Napoleonic vessel. It is exciting and has some terrific battle scenes. There's a genuine feel for the close-knit camaraderie between the officers and lower ranking men that was so necessary to keep such vessels afloat. As well as Crowe, Paul Bettany puts in a good turn as the ship's doctor and proto-Darwin naturalist. It is something of a shame that this film never went on to be a franchise as there is certainly more material to mine and plenty of characters to be explored.
January 11, 2016
Star Trek meets early 19th Century
½ January 10, 2016
Given the high critics praise this had previously received, I desperately endeavoured to see this one through to the end, but struggled immensely. I'm all for lengthy battle films, movies set at sea, and historical scripts, but this was just hard going. First and foremost, there were so many cast members, who looked the same and dressed the same, and when one of them died early on, I had no idea who it actually was. When the battles between the British and French also occurred, there was no way of knowing who was who either as both sides appeared to be dressed in blue. The dialogue between the shipmates was occasionally interesting, but I felt it was all leading up to the fight scenes, which never truly lived up to expectation. Granted that if this was to be based upon events surrounding the Napoleonic Wars, then historians won't appreciate the facts being incorrect, but if reality dictates that nothing of great interest ensued, why make the movie in the first place? Well acted, but impossible to comprehend the tale in what was such a dark background setting. I imagine I am also hindered by my lack of wartime knowledge, meaning character names are of no assistance to me in following this story. All in all, this has clearly been a masterpiece to some intellects, but unfortunately a commoner like me just drowned at sea.
January 8, 2016
The movie is pretty boring, but it is still and entertaining sea adventure with a great performance by Russell Crowe.
½ December 28, 2015
Impressively well-made actioner about the rivalry / personal vendetta between the captain of an English marine ship and the captain of a much faster and better equipped French ship. Although it's a bit heavy on the clichés (lucky captain Jack has a slower, older ship, but of course he's a smarter, better seaman), but the underdog story really works, there are a few good set pieces and some interesting subplots (particularly the one with the jinx).
Super Reviewer
December 14, 2015
Still one of my favorite movies of the new century . . . It feels like an old fashioned epic, which might explain why it was ignored by general audiences back in 2003 and has been slowly forgotten about (despite the fact that the effects work is still convincing). There's an argument to be made that this is the best of Crowe's adventurous leading man performances.
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