Russell Crowe as Captain Jack Aubrey
Paul Bettany as Dr. Stephen Maturin
Billy Boyd as Barrett Bonden
James D’Arcy as Lt. Tom Pullings
Lee Ingleby as Hollom
George Innes as Joe Plaice
Mark Lewis Jones as Mr. Hogg
Chris Larkin as Captain Howard
Richard McCabe as Dr. Maturin
Robert Pugh as Mr. Allen
David Threlfall as Killick
Max Pirkis as Lord Blakeney
Edward Woodall as 2nd Lt. Mowett
Ian Mercer as Mr. Hollar
Max Benitz as Peter Calamy
Seafaring told at its best, yet getting moviegoers on board might be a struggle.
Based on author Patrick O’Brian’s series of Aubrey/Maturin novels, the film stars Russell Crowe as “Lucky” Jack Aubrey, who pits his British crew of the H.M.S. Surprise against a much better-armed and ruthless privateer, in a chase that takes him all the way to the far side of the world.
I’ll get right to it, “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” is a wonderful film that is going to have trouble keeping people interested because of its subject nature. Director Peter Weir made this film clearly with adults in mind, which might be a set-back when trying to pull in the young “Pirates of the Caribbean” crowd. Sure, I loved the good story and some incredibly well-made (and expensive looking – hence it received financing from three studios) battle scenes, but the whole package had me leaving the theater with rather mixed thoughts. Basically, the whole film is about one boat full of men chasing another boat full of men. It’s historically accurate, of course, but rather unexciting.
Russell Crowe turns in another impressive and commanding (no pun intended) performance, that will most likely be recognized come awards season – though it still doesn’t beat his work in “Gladiator”. Paul Bettany is equally good as Maturin, who keeps things very real. Maturin is the doctor on board and frequently asks Captain Aubrey why he is continuing this chase. I was also impressed with young midshipman Lord Blakeney, played by Max Pirkis. Look for that kid in more roles in the future. As a matter of fact, all the young actors had pretty significant roles in the film.
The two battles are simply amazing. Quite a lot of work was put into creating them and making the scenes look authentic, to where it seems like you’re right there on the spot witnessing it all. I also liked the fact that the enemy is kept in the dark throughout, building the mystery as to who this strong and skilled adversary just really is.
Billy Boyd who? Yes, that’s the question you’ll be asking yourself. After having the major role of Pippin in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, and even getting third billing for “Master and Commander,” Boyd is barely seen on-screen and his character has no impact on the overall story. Surely fans will be expecting more of Boyd, perhaps some scenes were cut featuring him? Something I didn’t need to see, on the other hand, was a graphic scene involving the doctor doing surgery. I’m positive it made many squeamish and I don’t think they needed to show that much.
It’s hard to think about who the audience is for this film. While the acting was good, I found myself not really caring about any of the characters. Whenever something bad happened to them, there was no emotion out of me, when there should have been. In fact, I didn’t really care about anything that was happening on the ship in between battles. The drama, especially, seemed forced upon us.
The story also tends to drag, making the two hours seem very long. What’s in between the two battles is a slow, yet factual account of what sea life would have been like at those times – which in the end, is pretty unexciting.