Monday, November 17, 2003

REVIEW: Master And Commander: The Far Side of the World

Seen Friday, 14 November 2003, at Loews Boston Common, Screen #14 (new release)

* * * ½ (out of four)

It's good for the soul to sit through the credits for a film like Master And Commander. The sheer amount of glossy, well-produced, technically astounding features that Hollywood sends to our local cinemas every week can cause a frequent moviegoer to take for granted just how much effort goes into producing these films, especially one with the degree of difficulty this has.

The plot is nothing new - you have your basic beloved, veteran captain and ship; the more intellectual, relatively pacifistic foil; the stealthy, more advanced, unseen enemy ship; orders being exceeded in a way to put the crew in serious danger; the officer who does not have the crew's confidence and respect; the need to sacrifice some of the crew to save the ship. The difference between Master And Commander and, say, Crimson Tide is one of details.

But what details! Few movies in the genre are so well-researched, and the way the tactics and necessities of 19th-Century naval warfare are described in an offhand, but precise, manner are impressive. The shots on the water are gorgeous, especially the opening image of a fog bank being illuminated from within by cannon fire.

Performances are generally solid, though the movie tends to drag for a few minutes before the crew begins preparing for the final battle sequence: They're doing standard sub/ship movie stuff, and I was anxious fort hem to get back to what makes this movie unique, as opposed to what was mostly familiar.

Still, highly recommended - director Peter Weir is not known for messing around and he delivers what may be the greatest fighting-sailor movie ever made.

No comments: