Movie Review: Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
Alternate Title: Gladiator Takes Sail
Story: Ahoy! Finally an adventure film for adults. I will try to curtail some nautical speech in this review but by and large, to ease the suspense, I thought this film was first rate!
Novelist Patrick O'Brian has written 20 books about Captain Aubrey and his adventures. His fans are world wide and dare I say, this film will earn him many a new reader. Co-Screenwriter and director Peter Weir has seamlessly combined a film that echoes the classic art of film making with the use of modern digital techniques. Even with this Lobo nitpicking eye I could not tell where one technique left off and another began. It is exhilarating film making to experience.
The film is intelligent, deliberate, detailed, interesting and thoroughly entertaining from start to finish, or should I say from bow to stern.
The story combines several of O'Brian's books. We experience life aboard a ship in 1805 so brilliantly I could feel the salt on my lips. England and France are at war (what's new)? and the English ship, the Surprise is after the more superior French ship, the Acheron. The film successfully mixes the excitement of the wind, the titillation and fear of battle, the boredom of everyday life and the difficulty of command and leadership.
Hoist your sail and get to a cineplex soon!
We all use nautical terms every day in our common speech. Here are some of them:
Over the Barrel - To Know the Ropes - Dressing Down - Footloose - Booby Hatch - First Rate - Pipe Down - Chock-a-block - Leeway - Windfall - Groggy - Three Sheets to the Wind - Pooped - As the Crow Flies - Buoyed Up - By and Large - Cut and Run - In the Offing -Skyscraper - The Bitter End -Toe the Line - Back and Fill - Overhaul Slush Fund - Bear Down - Under the Weather - Overreach - Gone By the Board - Above Board - Overwhelm - Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea - The Devil to Pay - Rummage Sale - A Square Meal - Son of a Gun - Overbearing - Taking the wind out of his sails - Let the Cat Out of the Bag - No Room to Swing a Cat - Start Over with a Clean Slate - Taken Aback - At Loggerheads - Fly-by-night - No Great Shakes - Give (someone) a Wide Berth - Cut of His Jib - Garbled - Press Into Service - Touch and Go - Scuttlebutt.( http://www.fortogden.com/nauticalterms.html
Nautical Terms in Common Usage)
Acting: Russell Crowe, as Capt. Aubrey, can do no wrong on screen. He is larger than life and is generous with his fellow actor. I would have him as my captain any day of the week. What a guy! Paul Bettany (A Beautiful Mind) plays ship's surgeon Stephen Mataurin, perfectly. The rest of the cast is also admirable -- not a screen hog amongst them.
Predilection: I like a man in a uniform.
Critters: The Galapagos Islands become one of the stops on this voyage and we get to see many of the wonderful critters that are found at this must see place.
Food: Kudos to the galley crew who seemed to be able to cook some gourmet meals in the less than desirable conditions aboard ship.
Visual Art: The seascape is all one needs for visual delights. There are also some charming naturalist sketches of the plant and animal life that is encountered along the way.
Blatant Product Placement: None.
Opening Titles: Simply a few paragraphs to set us upon the course of what time and place in history we are about to enter (1805 - Napoleon is The Man to beat).
Theater Audience: Surprisingly filled for a Monday mid afternoon show. Mostly with first mates, a few wenches and one or two obvious stowaways.
Squirm Scale: 4 - Some of the primitive, at-sea medical techniques, are worthy of a squirm factor.
Predictability Level: High
Tissue Usage: Real sailors don't cry.
Oscar Worthy: Yes. (for what category I know not).
Nit Picking: I would have liked to have spent more time on the Galapagos.
Big Screen or Rental: Big screen for sure. For some other Peter Weir films, how about renting: The Truman Show, Fearless, Green Card, Dead Poets Society, The Mosquito Coast, Witness, The Year of Living Dangerously and Gallipoli.
For some other films awash in the sea try (not Lobo vouching for quality): Ship of Fools, A Night to Remember, The Poseidon Adventure, Titanic, Mutiny on the Bounty, Billy Budd and the Wreck of the Mary Deare.
Length: Two hours and twenty minutes. Yes, I know it was over the two hour Lobo rule but they were becalmed for a bit (and I decided that the time not sailing, doesn't count).
LOBO HOWLS: 9 Nautical Howls