and Commander: Far Side of the World
Starring: Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany, and Billy
Directed by: Peter Weir
Paul Bettany Interview
Speaking? Master and Commander: Far Side of the
World is a big beautiful bore. A snorefest-o-rama.
Captain "Lucky" Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe) has been
instructed to find and destroy French ships - England is at
war with Napoleon. But before he knows a grog fly from a dough
weevil this huge phantom Frenchie ship comes up from behind
and attacks. The ship out guns and out mans his "girl"
the H.M.S. Surprise by something like four to one
battle and chase begins
problem with this visually stunning film, in my opinion, is
none of the characters are developed. It's the feared and dreaded
1-2-3 battle, 1-2-3 battle. It's as if you're watching a multi-million
dollar game of Risk come to life. The film does stop the cannon
fire, briefly, only to serve up canned dialog 'tween shipmates
and a quicky glimpse into the strong bond between the winking
Capt. Jack and the brilliant Doctor Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany)
who begs his driven captain to take a respite (as do we by this
point) and gather specimens in the exotic Galapagos isles...
But before you can recite a bar of 'Ho Ho Ho and a Bottle of
we are all back in battle.
ye landlubbin' scrub it's gots itself all the pomp and stance
of a real gritty sea epic
though to use the word "epic"
- which conjures up delightful images of say Lawrence of
Arabia or something truly epic - may be a damnable sin.
For the first hour-something of the film we watch as endless
battle scenes between two ships we know nothing about
frolic (loudly) in the sea.
of course we know from the get go exactly where the tale is
to lead us. So, it really is just six, err, two and half hours
of watching a bunch of boys play sailor on the high seas - granted
some pretty cute boys. And for those history buffs among you
lured by the dream of a sweeping period piece glorifying sea
worthy vessels of the Napoleanic war? Yeah, you get to see great
details spring to life (thanks to William Sandell's production
design) and you can practically smell the body odor and rum.
But, there's nadda for story loving types. The cat and mouse
maneuvers between ships seem more like a good old-fashioned
ego issue with Lucky Jack then for his love of Queen and country.
And the story we are served up, is annoyingly incongruent; at
one point a man is flogged near death for being insubordinate
while another who shoots the ship's only doctor (in a
great display of moronic sportsmanship) is given the hairy eyebrow
- and nothing more!
FsotW is very authentic, in a take-some-vitamin-C-before-you-view-for-fear-of-scurvy-mate
way. The cinematography by Russell Boyd is awe-inspiring; the
costumes by Wendy Stites are odiously perfect and the music
by Iva Davies, Christopher Gordon and Richard Tognetti gloriously
fear not fans of the wonder from down under's edible physique
of pure grade A mansteak
Mr. Crowe's not really Brando-ing
after the nuptials, he simply added the VW Beetle-like poundage
to play the role of Capt. Jack Aubrey.
Aubrey, in the infamous novels by Patrick O'Brian, is as fat
as he is courageous (a slice of full-fat manlyberry pie) complete
with that oh-so-unattractive stringy high seas hairdo of yesteryear.
And alas lassies, even with about fifty-odd pounds upon him
Crowe's able to raise an eyebrow in of sinfully erotic thoughts
as you watch every grunting thrust and lunge in the name of
Crowe is as charismatic as usual; somewhat radiant really.
But M&C has no show of his acting chops that's for
rub-a-dub-dub sure. His character Capt. Hefty McHeffer flip
flops around a point so much you'll beg for someone to pull
a fire alarm or something just to be set free from the theatre.
Okay, that's cruel but it does get a bit dull and Crowe is on
the far side of his abilities here.
Paul Bettany - once again - shines like an eighty-four carat
diamond floating in the Queen's porridge. He stood out in that
atrocious crapitini A Knight's Tale,
stole scenes in A Beautiful Mind,
blew our minds in Gangster #1
and here he's the most enjoyable thing about this bountiful
film that'll have you mutinous for its end.
Speaking? Peter Weir created a big beautiful bore. From a director
so steeped in character development I for one expected a hiddi
ho more. You have to see it - if only for the sweeping battle
but don't expect to know anyone aboard any better
by the film's end.
recommendation: Oxhead soup, a pitcher of grog and egg pudding.