MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD Add To My Top 10

Content -1
Quality
None Light Moderate Heavy
Language        
Violence        
Sex        
Nudity        

Release Date: November 14, 2003

Starring: Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany, Billy Boyd, Max Pirkis, James D’Arcy, Lee Ingleby, Max Benitz, and Bryan Dick

Genre: Historical Drama

Audience: Teenagers to adults REVIEWER:
Dr. Tom Snyder MASTER AND
COMMANDER, which is subtitled
THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD, is
a rousing sea adventure
starring Russell Crowe in
another fine action role.
Directed by Peter Weir (THE
TRUMAN SHOW and WITNESS),
it’s one of the more
excellent features in 2003
that’s appropriate for
teenagers. It’s certainly
better than SCARY MOVIE 3 and
TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, which
have been attracting confused
teenagers by the millions. The
movie opens in 1805 with the
Captain of the HMS Surprise,
Jack Aubrey, almost seeing his
ship sunk by a French Napoleon
ship, the Acheron. The
Surprise has orders to stop
the Acheron from making its
way to the Pacific Ocean where
it can find supplies and
pirated booty for her French
emperor, Napoleon, who
controls most of Europe. The
Acheron comes out of a fog to
almost blast the Surprise out
of the water. After barely
escaping by hiding in the fog
itself, the Surprise hobbles
to a nearby shoal, where
Captain Aubrey intends to put
his ship back into action.
Aubrey pursues the Acheron
around “the Horn” of South
America. His best friend,
however, Stephen Maturin, the
ship’s surgeon played by
Paul Bettany, begins to
question whether Jack has not
become obsessed with defeating
the superior ship and her
sneaky, resourceful
captain. Director Peter Weir
is a master craftsman at
creating atmosphere, whether
it be an Amish village, a
crazy reality TV show, or the
strange religious beliefs of
Australian aborigines. He does
a superb job here of
re-creating the period detail
of the sea battles and human
struggles during the
Napoleonic Wars between
England and France. Russell
Crowe and Paul Bettany, who
worked together on A BEAUTIFUL
MIND, have established an
acting rapport that brings to
life the characters from two
of late author Patrick
O’Brian’s 20
“Aubrey/Maturin” novels.
The New York Times has called
these novels “the best
historical novels ever
written.” On screen, Crowe
plays the gregarious Captain
Aubrey with his usual
insightful panache, and
Bettany plays Dr. Maturin with
an earnest, sarcastic pensive
quality. They establish the
kind of respectful, friendly,
but tense, relationship that
made the original STAR TREK
series so beloved, where the
spaceship Enterprise and her
leaders were often compared to
seagoing vessels, captains,
and officers just like the HMS
Surprise. Apparently, the late
Patrick O’Brian has
established a similar
passionate following with his
own stories. What makes this
movie really take off,
however, is a superb little
performance by young Max
Pirkis, who plays a very young
midshipman named Blakeney.
Blakeney suffers a personal
tragedy early in the movie,
and the story follows him as
he recovers from that tragedy
and becomes friends with Dr.
Maturin, with whom he shares
an interest in biology. Dr.
Maturin becomes a mentor to
the young midshipman, who also
greatly admires Captain
Aubrey, though their
relationship is a little more
distant. This subplot brings
color and depth to all the
action. Max Pirkis deserves
great credit for handling such
an important minor role so
well, and Weir deserves credit
for not letting the subplot
overwhelm the story between
his two stars, Crowe and
Bettany. MASTER AND COMMANDER
contains wonderful storm
sequences and great sea
battles, with lots of action
and some violence.
Regrettably, there is one
“f” word and one GD, and
some light obscenities and
light profanities. Although
the violence is not excessive,
there are scenes of implied
medical surgery. Director Weir
cuts away from such scenes, or
views them from long distance,
before they get too gruesome,
however. On the positive side,
the movie has a very strong
moral worldview, which is
supplemented by some very
strong Christian elements,
including important positive
references to Jesus Christ,
God, and the Lord’s Prayer.
These Christian elements come
a little late in the movie to
make it a Christian worldview,
but they will help the movie
reach out to the massive
Christian audience and other
moviegoers who admire Jesus
Christ and some of his
teachings. The movie is not
preachy about these things,
however. The emphasis is on
action and personal
relationships. Some minor
negative elements take the
edge off the movie’s
positive qualities. For
instance, in one subplot, a
crewman begins to think he has
been cursed by the other
crewmembers, who blame him for
the ship’s troubles. He’s
a “Jonah” they say,
someone who has somehow
offended God and brings doom
upon other people aboard a
ship. Also, one of the main
desires of Dr. Maturin is to
visit the Galapagos Islands
and study the unique creatures
and fauna there. Captain
Aubrey’s pursuit of the
French ship keeps interfering
with the surgeon and budding
naturalist’s desires. This
plot is an oblique reference
to the work of Charles Darwin,
who developed his false theory
of evolution by visiting the
Galapagos. The movie does not
mention evolution, however,
and Dr. Maturin acknowledges
God by mentioning Him at least
once and by joining in during
one important Christian
ritual. The language,
violence, and minor negative
elements require caution for
children. MASTER AND COMMANDER
is probably appropriate,
however, for most teenagers.
As usual, parents need to take
an active role and decide
which of their children can
see this movie. Please address
your comments to: Peter
Chernin, Chairman and CEO The
Fox Group Tom Rothman and Jim
Gianopulos, Chairmen Fox
Filmed Entertainment 20th
Century Fox Film Corp. A
division of Fox, Inc. and News
Corp. 10201 West Pico
Blvd. Los Angeles, CA
90035 Phone: (310)
369-1000 Website: www.fox.com

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 138 minutes

Address Comments To:

Content:

(BBB, CCC, Pa, PPP, AP, H, LL, VV, N, AA, D, M) Very strong moral worldview plus some very strong Christian elements such as positive references to Jesus Christ, bodily resurrection, the Last Judgment, the Bible, forgiveness, the entire Lord’s Prayer, man twice says God bless you, and man says God speed to another man, and superstitious pagan content where men think one man is cursed, and they drive him to suicide, and movie strongly supports patriotism, but hero’s friend questions his personal motives and says patriotism often leads to tyranny, and one character seems to have the beginnings of a humanist scientific ideology when ship visits islands where Darwin forged his humanist theories on evolution, but character accepts the existence of God; about 12 obscenities, including one “f” word, one GD, five or six light exclamatory profanities, and sailors get seasick and vomit during one storm; strong action violence and implied medical violence includes sea battles such as shells hitting ships and hurting men, man suffers head wound, gunshot wound, implied amputation, some blood on men injured during war, man removes bullet from his own stomach, suicide, sword fights, hand-to-hand combat, sailors fire guns and rifles at one another during battle scene, and images of blood on floor while doctor operates on wounded soldiers; no sex, but captain says, “To wives and sweethearts, may they never meet” and officer commands sailor off screen to let go of woman from bay that ship briefly visits; upper male nudity; alcohol use and drunkenness; smoking; and, nothing else really objectionable.

GENRE: Historical Drama

BBB

CCC

Pa

PPP

AP

H

LL

VV

N

AA

D

M

Summary:

MASTER AND COMMANDER, which is subtitled THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD, is a rousing sea adventure set in 1805, starring Russell Crowe in another fine action role as the captain of a British fighting ship crossing cannons with a French ship serving Napoleon. Except for some foul language, violence, and minor negative elements, the movie contains great period detail, excellent direction, fine performances, wonderful effects, and strong, positive Christian references.

Review:

MASTER AND COMMANDER, which is subtitled THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD, is a rousing sea adventure starring Russell Crowe in another fine action role. Directed by Peter Weir (THE TRUMAN SHOW and WITNESS), it’s one of the more excellent features in 2003 that’s appropriate for teenagers. It’s certainly better than SCARY MOVIE 3 and TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, which have been attracting confused teenagers by the millions.

The movie opens in 1805 with the Captain of the HMS Surprise, Jack Aubrey, almost seeing his ship sunk by a French Napoleon ship, the Acheron. The Surprise has orders to stop the Acheron from making its way to the Pacific Ocean where it can find supplies and pirated booty for her French emperor, Napoleon, who controls most of Europe. The Acheron comes out of a fog to almost blast the Surprise out of the water.

After barely escaping by hiding in the fog itself, the Surprise hobbles to a nearby shoal, where Captain Aubrey intends to put his ship back into action. Aubrey pursues the Acheron around “the Horn” of South America. His best friend, however, Stephen Maturin, the ship’s surgeon played by Paul Bettany, begins to question whether Jack has not become obsessed with defeating the superior ship and her sneaky, resourceful captain.

Director Peter Weir is a master craftsman at creating atmosphere, whether it be an Amish village, a crazy reality TV show, or the strange religious beliefs of Australian aborigines. He does a superb job here of re-creating the period detail of the sea battles and human struggles during the Napoleonic Wars between England and France.

Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany, who worked together on A BEAUTIFUL MIND, have established an acting rapport that brings to life the characters from two of late author Patrick O’Brian’s 20 “Aubrey/Maturin” novels. The New York Times has called these novels “the best historical novels ever written.” On screen, Crowe plays the gregarious Captain Aubrey with his usual insightful panache, and Bettany plays Dr. Maturin with an earnest, sarcastic pensive quality. They establish the kind of respectful, friendly, but tense, relationship that made the original STAR TREK series so beloved, where the spaceship Enterprise and her leaders were often compared to seagoing vessels, captains, and officers just like the HMS Surprise. Apparently, the late Patrick O’Brian has established a similar passionate following with his own stories.

What makes this movie really take off, however, is a superb little performance by young Max Pirkis, who plays a very young midshipman named Blakeney. Blakeney suffers a personal tragedy early in the movie, and the story follows him as he recovers from that tragedy and becomes friends with Dr. Maturin, with whom he shares an interest in biology. Dr. Maturin becomes a mentor to the young midshipman, who also greatly admires Captain Aubrey, though their relationship is a little more distant. This subplot brings color and depth to all the action. Max Pirkis deserves great credit for handling such an important minor role so well, and Weir deserves credit for not letting the subplot overwhelm the story between his two stars, Crowe and Bettany.

MASTER AND COMMANDER contains wonderful storm sequences and great sea battles, with lots of action and some violence. Regrettably, there is one “f” word and one GD, and some light obscenities and light profanities. Although the violence is not excessive, there are scenes of implied medical surgery. Director Weir cuts away from such scenes, or views them from long distance, before they get too gruesome, however.

On the positive side, the movie has a very strong moral worldview, which is supplemented by some very strong Christian elements, including important positive references to Jesus Christ, God, and the Lord’s Prayer. These Christian elements come a little late in the movie to make it a Christian worldview, but they will help the movie reach out to the massive Christian audience and other moviegoers who admire Jesus Christ and some of his teachings. The movie is not preachy about these things, however. The emphasis is on action and personal relationships.

Some minor negative elements take the edge off the movie’s positive qualities. For instance, in one subplot, a crewman begins to think he has been cursed by the other crewmembers, who blame him for the ship’s troubles. He’s a “Jonah” they say, someone who has somehow offended God and brings doom upon other people aboard a ship. Also, one of the main desires of Dr. Maturin is to visit the Galapagos Islands and study the unique creatures and fauna there. Captain Aubrey’s pursuit of the French ship keeps interfering with the surgeon and budding naturalist’s desires. This plot is an oblique reference to the work of Charles Darwin, who developed his false theory of evolution by visiting the Galapagos. The movie does not mention evolution, however, and Dr. Maturin acknowledges God by mentioning Him at least once and by joining in during one important Christian ritual.

The language, violence, and minor negative elements require caution for children. MASTER AND COMMANDER is probably appropriate, however, for most teenagers. As usual, parents need to take an active role and decide which of their children can see this movie.

Please address your comments to:

Peter Chernin, Chairman and CEO

The Fox Group

Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos, Chairmen

Fox Filmed Entertainment

20th Century Fox Film Corp.

A division of Fox, Inc. and News Corp.

10201 West Pico Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90035

Phone: (310) 369-1000

Website: www.fox.com

SUMMARY: MASTER AND COMMANDER, which is subtitled THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD, is a rousing sea adventure set in 1805, starring Russell Crowe in another fine action role as the captain of a British fighting ship crossing cannons with a French ship serving Napoleon. Except for some foul language, violence, and minor negative elements, the movie contains great period detail, excellent direction, fine performances, wonderful effects, and strong, positive Christian references.

In Brief: