I went to see Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World: The Longest and Most Unremarkable, Hard-to-Remember Movie Title for a Pretty Good Movie. Well, like the title implies, it’s a pretty good movie. It’s basically the story of a British sailing ship pursuing a much more modern and advanced French privateer during the Napoleonic wars in the 19th century. There are epic sea battles. The depiction of the dangerous, hard life of a sailor seems very realistic.
The acting is good, but not sparkling. Russell Crowe seemed a bit flat as Captain John Aubrey in this film, but he wasn’t terrible. Paul Bettany, Crowe’s friend and ship’s doctor, turned in a much more sensitive and nuanced performance.
The film was a bit scattered. The vast array of characters made it difficult to identify with any one of them. If one of them died, it seemed almost inconsequential, although it was devastating to the other characters. The film failed to create the dramatic empathy in the viewer that could have be such a powerful driving force. Instead, it seemed that these incidental tragedies only occured to reveal traits of Crowe’s character–steely captain, hard decision-maker, caring father-figure–which was a rather one-dimensional use of plot.
Overall, I enjoyed it. It definitely had some weaknesses, especially related to character development. But the story was entertaining, and it was educational to be immersed in that very dramatic period of history.