Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

7.42 h 18 min2003X-RayPG-13
HD. Russell Crowe is a 19th-century British warship captain who leads a motley crew as they prepare to attack a superior French vessel.
Peter Weir
Russell CrowePaul Bettany
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Meyer GottliebDuncan HendersonPeter Weir
The Walt Disney Studios
PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Content advisory
Alcohol usefoul languagesmokingviolence
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4.8 out of 5 stars

7202 global ratings

  1. 85% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 10% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 3% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 1% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 1% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Jason S. TaylorReviewed in the United States on May 3, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
One of the Best
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This is one of the best movies ever made. Perhaps the best period. It shows a fine epic of naval warfare that is well worth the watch.
There are few things bad to say about it. The special effects are splendid and well crafted. The plot is great and the characters are sympathetic. It is a sophisticated movie-one which will not patronize over you with a lowest common denominator appeal. On the contrary it exercises the mind as well as stirring the heart with discussions of nautical technology, sailor folklore, music both classical and folk, and even a smattering of philosophy. But it also has as much action as any movie, without the action being stupid or cartoonish.

It has no sex(except a couple bawdy jokes). There is little swearing. The violence is as much as needed but it is not sadism porn, nor does it deceive anyone into thinking that violence is not real. It needs none of those things. It reminds people that war is not a game, but not by superfluous gore, but by showing tragedy. It does not "glorify war"; it glorifies heroism. It needs none of these crude attractions and is to fine a movie to stoop to them.

It is a very good movie for young people, for it shows friendship, honor, leadership, and a masculinity that need not be barbaric to be manly. And it shows boys growing up in an adult setting and looking for men to emulate. A boy can identify with one of the young midshipmen and be improved rather then degraded. Yet it will appeal to his natural emotions by showing how to harness them rather then repressing them or giving in to them. If he desires a role model and desires to imagine himself a hero this will go far toward showing those things in a healthy way. And if it strains the mind a bit it strains it no more then needs to be strained. It is an intelligent movie but not an overrefined one and it is a great display of the kind of tale that has always stirred humanity when done well. As I said it shows tragedy but tragedy is not the dominant theme. Heroism is.

It is also realistic. The hardships of life at sea and the horrors of Napoleonic warfare are shown well. Combat scenes look just real enough to strike home. Splinters fly when shot hits the ship, and hand-to-hand fighting bears little resemblance to Errol Flynn. And there are few historical errors and those can be tolerated.

All in all it is a terrific movie and should be watched. And watched again.
312 people found this helpful
RDDReviewed in the United States on February 14, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
A Great Film based on Excellent Books!
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"Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" adapts material from several of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series of novels set during the Napoleonic Wars. In doing so, writers Peter Weir & John Collee and director Peter Weir craft a story that's accessible for those who haven't read the book while including plenty of nice references for O'Brian fans. Russell Crowe as Capt. Jack Aubrey, Paul Bettany as Dr. Stephen Maturin, and James D'Arcy as 1st Lt. Tom Pullings are great as their respective characters with others admirably adding to the ensemble cast.
20th Century Fox released this film in 2003 and, fifteen years later, appears unlikely to adapt any of the other 19 novels. This is sadly unfortunate as the film has the right blend of action, comedy, and drama amid a faithfully reproduced historical setting. O'Brian was a stickler for historical details and this film captures that spirit. Most movies would avoid using real ships in favor of CGI, but this films real things whenever possible, which adds to the overall quality. If you haven't seen it, do yourself a treat and check it out.
66 people found this helpful
MLTReviewed in the United States on June 22, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
Huge fun. Just enough surprises to keep you wondering.
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Great retelling of the same story that at least three Hollywood movies and two series of novels were written about. O'Brian's novel, "Master and Commander" is the putative source for the story here, but C. S. Forester's "Beat to Quarters" included elements of the same real-life incidents and was the first of his Horatio Hornblower novels written). Both authors borrowed heavily from events of the naval career of Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald (the real-life officer responsible for the capture of the far-larger Spanish ship in the film and both novels).

The pastiche of thrilling adventures stitched together into the career of a single fictitious officer makes for wonderful storytelling, although O'Brian and Forester used different "patches of cloth" to make their story "quilt" the feel is much the same and this movie does a wonderful job of bringing that world of men doing manly things across just fine.
31 people found this helpful
DanReviewed in the United States on June 27, 2016
4.0 out of 5 stars
While I do love LotR, I still firmly believe this movie could ...
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Master and Commander holds a special place in my memory. Having seen it multiple times in theaters alone, I can safely say that its only real glaring flaw is the timing of its release. It was nominated for 10 Academy awards and lost the bulk of them to The Return of the King. While I do love LotR, I still firmly believe this movie could have claimed best picture had it not been forced to compete with Jackson's masterpiece. Why, however is where it gets interesting.

Set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars, it follows the story of the captain and crew of the HMS Surprise, a frigate in the royal navy tasked with hunting down a powerful French Privateer Acheron, intent on carrying the war into the Pacific. However the French ship turns out to be much larger and more advanced than the Surprise and the Surprise and her crew find themselves in a lopsided battle against a superior ship and a seemingly impossible task of taking her. Still, Captain Jack Aubrey of the Surprise will stop at nothing to complete the mission.

Perhaps the greatest thing about this film is the atmosphere. It simply oozes it. This is one of the few films that can literally take you to another place and time. It feels less like you're watching a film and more like you're watching what some time travelers recorded on a trip back to 1805. It also holds the record for the most realistic depiction of Napoleonic Wars era naval warfare. The battles are brutal slug matches and the hand combat is just as savage. The first 20 minutes of the film have sequences a step below Saving Private Ryan. If the opening sequence doesn't grab you then this film just isn't for you.
65 people found this helpful
BKerrReviewed in the United States on April 7, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
The best historical sailing movie ever.
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Without a doubt this is the best historical sailing movie ever filmed. Few movies set at sea are anything but embarrassing to those who have been at sea. Few "historical" movies bear any resemblance to the history they convey. Master and Commander nails both subjects solidly. It does so wrapped in a compelling story of daring and adventure. Sometimes we forget there are real heroes.

Captain "Lucky" Jack Aubrey is based on the real life Admiral Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald whose daring adventures actually exceeded the fictional Captain Jack's. Today our world fires brave captains for sending an email. It needn't be that way. Bravery and honor live on. We should strive to be as honest and bold as our ancestors.

Search "History Buffs: Master and Commander" on YouTube for an informative historical review of the movie. I just now watched the movie for maybe the 10th time and have a hard time not getting caught up in the narrative. Knowing the history only makes the movie better.
8 people found this helpful
N. M. SmithReviewed in the United States on February 5, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Rewatched it after 16 years and was blown away
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I discovered Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series in the mid-90's, and had read and re-read the entire series by the time Peter Weir's film adaptation came out in 2003. I enjoyed the movie back then, and I thought that it deserved the 10 academy award nominations it received. But I wasn't blown away at the time. Maybe I was too attached to the vivid images of the characters that I had formed in my mind. Or perhaps I was too close to the books and was thrown off by the way Weir and his co-writer had altered the story and combined parts from several books. Anyway, I just watched it again, this time with my teenage son, and I was absolutely gobsmacked by the skillfulness of the filmmaking, the acting, and cinematography. And the action sequences are astounding. The final boarding of the enemy French ship is a masterclass in directing. I now consider this movie to be the best historical fiction films ever, one of the best war films ever, and, quite possibly, one of the most underrated films in cinematic history. After it was over my son said "Let's watch the sequel now!" Sadly, I informed him that it never got made. Maybe some director will revisit O'Brian's series with the same passion that Weir and Russell Crowe brought to Master and Commander. Hopefully they'll do a long form TV series and start from the beginning at that fateful meeting in Port Mahon.
8 people found this helpful
The Heavy BearReviewed in the United States on January 16, 2021
1.0 out of 5 stars
"The simple fact is, we were soundly beaten."
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When Captain Jack, at 18:50 minutes in, finally enunciates that isolated sentence outside the cavern of his self-absorbed chest, he renders the greatest critique of Russell Crowe's rendition of him.
When you read the one star ratings, note how many of them complain of the audio.
This is Crowe's weakest performance, by far. In such a great drama, from such great seas and such a great novel, with all other actors clarion in their delivery, Crowe mutters his self-importance into the lap dog of his upper respiratory so that the only one who can touch tune forks to his utterances are him and him, alone. And he, Crowe, portraying a fiddler - artists above all others knowing how to broadcast sound outward from an instrument's resonant chamber.
Self absorbed, Russ! "What did he just say?" Pause.
Oh, well, since this midshipman responded with "___," the Captain must have said "_____" in the blank. Maybe I don't need Closed Caption after all to support Captain Crowe's caged muttering.
His performance, amid all of the great ones, was most feeble.
Watch this great movie again, and hear how perfectly all others project. Almost as if they were imploring him via example to: "Speak outward, broad shouldered man. Speak out!."
Soundly beaten.
3 people found this helpful
FigurineReviewed in the United States on November 26, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
Best period-piece film-making ever?
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Some reviews I've noticed manage to find umbrage with some slight historical inaccuracy, although often those complaints themselves are inaccurate. By the Hollywood standards of Braveheart and Last Samurai, this movie is a rare-gem and a blessing. Watching this movie, you can really transport yourself to 1805.

And the story, the drama, is better for it. You don't need to take "liberties" with history to tell a great story. In fact, the authenticity gives everything in this movie extra weight. For example: the disconnect between officers and crew is something that would typically feel too "aristocratic" for Hollywood writers. They would make the heroic officers "like one of the crew", to give them an every-man-persona.
Instead, this movie outlines the importance of having officers keep distant from the crew. There was a reason for that, and the movie demonstrates it clearly. And that cold-reality makes for great drama.

There are all sorts of touches to the plot, and to the setting, that really puts the audience on a 19th century man-o-war. The actors are all wonderful in their roles. Russell Crowe's "Lucky Jack" is charming and has just enough bravado to be a thrilling natural leader, without coming off as unbelievable. He is not William Wallace destroying all armies in his path. He's just a captain who loves his job.

There is a lot of harsh reality to the film. And, to me, it makes for a far more engrossing, suspenseful, joyful experience than watching the typical Hollywood heroics. I love this film, and wish there were a lot more like it.
9 people found this helpful
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