Anthony's Film Review
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)
Although the film has great production value, it significantly lacks an engaging story...
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, directed by Peter Weir, combines the titles of two maritime fiction novels by Patrick O'Brian. It's a type of fiction that I have never been acquainted with, but I'm sure there's an audience for it. The poster for the movie did look interesting at first glance. Plus, Russell Crowe is in the movie as a British ship captain along with Paul Bettany as a ship surgeon. Both were enough to convince me to watch it.
Let me first go into the movie's strong point. The production design is great. Everything looks very realistic. There is no doubt that much work went into all the details of the ship and life on the high seas. It can be a fascinating glimpse into such a setting for those not familiar with it. Overall, any awards and nominations for production design for this movie are well deserved.
But I cannot really say the same thing for the movie as a whole. Everyone still looks for engagement with the two basic elements of a story: plot and characters. The majority of the movie is nothing more than the days in the life of sailing across the ocean. None of the characters were people I could remember or care about. That also goes for Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany. Basically, I had been waiting for something to finally catch my attention and take me along for a ride.
So I was surprised how a lot of people, critics or otherwise, said this was a great movie. I'm not disputing their opinions because everyone is entitled to one. It's just that I did not expect to disagree with what I had heard. Then again, I did speak with a few friends who felt the same way I did. The production value is there, but not the plot and characters.
Lastly, I want to emphasize that my opinions of Master and Commander should not reflect negatively on fans of Patrick O'Brian and maritime fiction. I am sure that such individuals have enjoyed the movie. After all, they are the target audience. Given all of this, my rating would have to reflect the lower end but still take into account the intentions of the film. Hence, the movie is in the middle of my 1-to-10 scale.
For more information about Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, visit the Internet Movie Database.