Customer Reviews


182 Reviews
5 star:
 (114)
4 star:
 (38)
3 star:
 (9)
2 star:
 (11)
1 star:
 (10)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


91 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even O'Brian fanatics love it!
Yes, even that strange, disparate group of people who are incapable of talking about anything when they meet other than weevils, soused pig's face and tincture of laudanum, even they love this film. I should know, I'm one of them and most of the people I know are too.
Having seen a couple of excerpts of Crowe as Aubrey, I was absolutely dreading this movie but was...
Published on 26 Feb 2004 by Mr. D. J. Marsh

versus
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Please -- NO MORE COMPULSORY TRAILERS!!
Warning! Every time you want to watch this DVD again, you'll have to waste 10 minutes of your life going through the mandatory trailers before you come to the main menu. This is marketing gone mad. The films previewed look to be mostly tat. One certainly confirms the Dennis Pennis observation that Steve Martin is no longer funny. But what really bugs me is that...
Published on 12 April 2004 by Gavin Wilson


‹ Previous | 1 219 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

91 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even O'Brian fanatics love it!, 26 Feb 2004
By 
Mr. D. J. Marsh "mr tibbles" (on table) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Yes, even that strange, disparate group of people who are incapable of talking about anything when they meet other than weevils, soused pig's face and tincture of laudanum, even they love this film. I should know, I'm one of them and most of the people I know are too.
Having seen a couple of excerpts of Crowe as Aubrey, I was absolutely dreading this movie but was totally enthralled from the outset. In fact, it wasn't until near the end of the movie when Aubrey & Maturin were walking on deck next to each other that I noticed that Paul Bettany is almost a foot taller than Russell Crowe (stilts for Crowe were in order for that shot).
It's not a word-for-word rendering of the novel onto film by any stretch of the imagination (nor should it have been) but it absolutely captures the spirit of the books and conveys life aboard the Surprise brilliantly. The detail is breath-taking from the ship itself to the behaviour of the crew and on to the wonderful storm and battle action scenes.
To give you an idea of just how pedantic I was being, I was absolutley delighted to see Maturin - like the good Catholic that he is - stopping short of the line "For thine is the kingdom..." during the Lord's Prayer near the end of the film (yes, I know it's sad to actually expend mental energy on such minutiae but, clearly, someone else did too).
My only disappointment was that no allusions were made to Maturin's secret life as an intelligence agent but I guess there's a limit to how much character exposition one can expect in, what I hope, is the first in a series of films. However, other aspects of his character - as Aubrey's best friend, as a great physician and as a fanatical naturalist - are depicted to great effect and humour.
From the outset, I forgot that it was Russell Crowe (so all credit to him) and thoroughly enjoyed his depiction of Aubrey and, obviously, David Threlfall was born to play Preserved Killick (more of him in the next film, I hope). The casting was, in fact, faultless except for one thing: the actor playing Barrett Bonden - a role for a huge, burly, pigtailed pugilist - was given to a rather small hobbit.
Far Side of the World is destined to become a cinema classic as well as a much-cherished DVD in my collection.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!, 22 Oct 2004
By 
k a f wayt (birmingham, west midlands United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Being a fan of the Patrick O'Brian Aubrey/Maturin novels, I approached this film with a little caution, as anybody familiar with the books will tell you that the film title is an amalgamation of two seperate books from the series. I am pleased to say that my fears were, for the most part, misplaced. The casting of the two main parts is inspired, both bringing to life there respective characters with a warmth and depth that becomes apparent in the books, but I doubted could be brought to the big screen, with the obvious time constraints allowing only a finite amount of time for "character building".
The attention to detail, the sound and sweeping cinematography are truly breathtaking, whilst the inclusion of several smaller plot lines from various books in the series make even the "quite" times in the film alternatly gripping and, at times, very moving. The exciting scenes of sudden battle, (with the excellent sound effects), rounding cape horn, and long sea chases are tempered by scenes of Nelsonian period surgery, loss of shipmates and the psychological stresses that months at sea could produce.
There are a couple of things that do detract a little (for me). Why was it necessary to amalgamate two fine books into the one movie, when any of the books in the series, given this kind of treatment, would make for a superb film in its own right, and why do the Americans now feel that they have to re-write historical FICTION, as well as FACT. The enemy ship being hunted in the novel The Far Side of The World is an AMERICAN frigate, the NORFOLK, as the action occurs during the war of 1812.
This aside, Master and Commander is an excellent movie, just sit back and allow yourself to be taken back in time!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great film and great value, 1 Sep 2006
By 
Like all O'Brian fans I was eager for this film to appear at the cinema, but was half expecting to be disappointed, as so easily happens when books are adapted for the screen. But I need not have worried. Every care has been taken to keep to the spirit of the books, although not the letter, and the attention to detail is astonishing.

The story itself is very simple. Jack Aubrey's ship Surprise is attacked by a much more powerful ship - the French privateer Acheron - in fog off the coast of Brazil. The ship's company manages to rescue the ship by towing her deeper into the fog, and the rest of the film involves the Surprise chasing the Acheron round the Horn to get her revenge. So, very much a "blokish" film, with no romantic interest (in fact the only time women appear is when some Brazilian boats pull out to trade with the ship, and even then they don't speak). This won't be to everybody's taste, and you will probably get the most out of it if you love the sea and sailing ships.

Put so baldly, the film doesn't seem to have much to recommend it, but its success resides in four things. Firstly the social relations on board ship, especially the friendship between Captain Aubrey and the ship's surgeon Stephen Maturin, which is as central here as it is in the books. Secondly, fine acting by the whole cast. Thirdly the astounding attention to detail. And fourthly the delight in discovering natural wonders.

And for O'Brian devotees, how does it stack up? Well, the story is very much a pick and mix of scenes and events from books throughout the series. The novel The Far Side of the World involves a chase with a US Navy ship. In the film it has been quietly substituted by a French one, presumably because nobody in the US would want to watch a film about one of their ships being knocked about by a British one. In fact, the only real connection between book and film as far as the story goes is that it involves a chase around the Horn and up to the Galapagos.

Tom Pullings is pretty faithful to the novels, Mr Allen the sailing master is excellent, and other characters are faithfully reproduced, although one or two come to rather unexpected ends. Preserved Killick and Joe Plaice could have stepped straight out of the pages, they are so real. The only two exceptions are Bonden and Jack Aubrey. Bonden looks like a 15 year old boy, rather than the hulking tattooed pig-tailed man of war's man I was expecting. Not that he's in any way bad, but just wrong for the part. And Russell Crowe as Jack Aubrey was probably the best choice for a very difficult character to portray. In the leadership role he is very good indeed. In fact I can think of nobody who could play the part better. But when not fighting an enemy or a storm, Aubrey is a rather clumsy, ham-fisted, unintentionally funny character with his mixed aphorisms, etc., and here Crowe is not so good. He can't really do humour, and his English accent doesn't sound very different from his Australian/NZ one. But I can think of no actor in the world who could have combined two such very differing sides of Jack's personality.

The "great value" in the review title refers to the extras. They are quite simply the best I have ever seen in a DVD, and when you see the lengths to which Peter Weir went in order to remain faithful to the books and the times you will be amazed. For anybody who loves sailing, The Hundred Days "making of" film is worth five stars on its own.

It merits every one of its five stars, but you are more likely to enjoy it if you have a passion for the sea and ships.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Master and Commander, 16 Feb 2005
By 
Rich Milligan (Thatcham, Berkshire) - See all my reviews
In many ways this is quite a curious film. Like many reviewers have stated below the composition of the film goes against all the rules that Hollywood have set up over the past few years and yet it still manages to come across and a most engaging and entertaining film.
Almost all the action takes place in the enclosed atmosphere of the ship, HMS Surprise, there are no sub-plots running in different locations, there is absolutely no romantic element in the film at all, in fact the only female appearance lasts less than a couple minutes. In some respects it cannot even be called an action film, as there are only two phases of action in the whole performance and these are filmed in a realistic horror fashion rather than a swashbuckling stunt-like fashion. The plot is simple in the extreme, bad ship attacks good ship - good ship chases bad ship for revenge, and yet for all this the film never gets boring.
What the film does very well, which may well be the reason it works so brilliantly, is that it mixes the factual documentary view of life on board a warship in the 1800s with the almost fly-on-the-wall story telling of the sailors' various lives extremely effectively. The attention to detail is extraordinary and it's the sort of film you'll watch for the umpteenth time and still find elements of the sets, costumes and props that you missed before.
Crowe does well as the inspiring captain but in an almost star-less supporting cast there are some fantastic performances which maybe even overshadow him. Look out for Billy Boyd as the Coxwain, that great character actor Robert Pugh and also Ian Mercer (he of Gary Mallet Coronation Street fame) as the Boatswain.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A film for a Sunday afternoon, hungover, 4 Feb 2004
By 
S. Polling (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I have had several discussions with friends about this film, none of whom seem to be able to agree on whether this is the greatest film of the year, or a collection of boring anecdotes about Lord Nelson to accompany the slowest chase film ever made. I would personally fall somewhere between these two perspectives, but I can see why Master and Commander polarises opinions - it is a very unusual film.
Several reviewers have already outlined the plot of this film in much greater detail than I intend to - a British boat, outgunned by a larger French vessel, is initially defeated and then hunts for the opportunity to gain revenge for king and country. However, the interest in the film is in the details - the relations of the seamen to their captain, the doctor as confidant and even mentor to Crowe. The action is sparse, but dramatic, and there are some memorable performances, particularly from some of the younger members of the cast.
I said that this film was unusual, because despite the large budget and Hollywood backing, I dont think I have ever seen a film like this one. The action is almost a sideshow to the personal relationships that develop, and even plays second fiddle at times to the doctor's love of zoology. The dialogue is unashamedly corny at times (I'm thinking of the Nelson anecdote again) but somehow it seems forgiveable because it is realistic at the same time - what else would you talk about with a man who had served under Nelson?
Overall, the story left me with the same feeling that I have when I have read a good book, rather than watched a Hollywood blockbuster. The pace is measured, even slow at times. It is the kind of film I would recommend to anyone who hasn't seen it, but again I could fully understand why some people would hate it. I will be buying this film, largely on the grounds that I suspect it is a film which will improve with subsequent viewings. And I may even read the book as well.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Please -- NO MORE COMPULSORY TRAILERS!!, 12 April 2004
By 
Gavin Wilson - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Warning! Every time you want to watch this DVD again, you'll have to waste 10 minutes of your life going through the mandatory trailers before you come to the main menu. This is marketing gone mad. The films previewed look to be mostly tat. One certainly confirms the Dennis Pennis observation that Steve Martin is no longer funny. But what really bugs me is that MASTER AND COMMANDER is a class film. To force viewers to sit through these rubbishy previews is a terrible miscalculation by the advertising folks.
But get past that and you have a wonderful movie before you. Where SAVING PRIVATE RYAN gave you an idea of what it was really like being the target of German machine guns, MASTER AND COMMANDER gives you the feel of cannonballs coming straight at you through the woodwork. (You really should play this on a 5.1 system with sub-woofer, by the way.) For those of you who worried that seafaring could be a tad boring, Peter Weir thankfully abbreviates the waiting-for-wind phases in between the ER-like episodes of makeshift amputations and surgery.
Paul Bettany, who first came to our notice as a slightly weird Geoff Chaucer in the altogether weird KNIGHT'S TALE, just keeps getting better and better. Russell Crowe is also excellent as the superhero commander whose only flaw is that he is too ambitious.
Coming at this from an utterly non-aquatic background, one gets the impression that the nautical detail in this movie is as accurate as it possibly can be. Weir, working from Patrick O'Brian's novels, gives you great confidence that this is exactly how it was in Napoleonic times. My only concern is how many more episodes Weir could make in this series!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


66 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Master and Commander, 12 Feb 2004
By 
Dr. Giles C. Watson (St Mary's, Isles of Scilly United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Peter Weir is one of the few directors who has, over the years, courted a mass audience whilst retaining artistic integrity. I first encountered his work whilst growing up in his own native Australia. "Picnic at Hanging Rock", while it was always rather frustrating for those who admire the scientific rationalism of a proper detective like Sherlock Holmes, nevertheless provided a showcase for the young director's eye for the beauty of the Australian bush. The timeless "Gallipoli", whilst its plot subscribed to a myth which has long since been disproven by historians, still remains one of the most poignant anti-war films ever made. After Weir's move to America, I still followed him, and was entranced by "Witness", his portrayal of a tough Philadelphia cop exiled by grim necessity in an Amish community, which combines all of the usual features of an action film with the full gamut of unanswered questions about the power of non-violence.
Weir's latest movie has all the hallmarks of similar greatness. It has an excellent pedigree, having been inspired by the novels of Patrick O'Brian, a novelist with a genuine knowledge of Napoleonic history, and of natural history too. O'Brian was capable not only of writing superb novels; he also wrote an erudite and entertaining biography of Sir Joseph Banks, one of the most intelligent of the early European-Australian pioneers. When I first watched this movie, I expected to see something out of the ordinary.
I was not to be disappointed. From the opening scene, in which the seamen slump listlessly inside their hammocks, the inventive camera angles captured life aboard a ship in the Napoleonic wars with an unerring eye for detail, from the grisly surgical scenes to the disastrous attempts to shoot an albatross. Much of it was gruesome in the extreme, and yet this realism was matched by a great beauty. Never has a sailing ship's rigging been captured by such an aesthetic eye, and in all weathers too, nor with such evocative music as a backdrop. It is possible for the viewer to spend the duration of this film feeling quite convinced that Captain Aubrey and the surgeon Maturin really are just at hand, although Maturin, perhaps, had rather more panache than he possessed in O'Brian's novels.
Do not be put off by the reviews in newspapers such as the Guardian and the Independent, written as they are by would-be film-makers who presumably didn't make the grade, and feel miffed as a result. It is not true that the only conflict in the film is over whether Maturin will get to go birdwatching on the Galapagos Islands. It is far from mere birdwatching, after all; these are the same islands that gave birth to Darwin's "Origin of Species", and Maturin is about to encounter marine iguanas and flightless cormorants. And besides, there is always the small matter of a rather formidable French ship which Aubrey is determined to blow out of the water. I hate war films, but this one so engaged me that my heart leapt when the enemy ship's mainmast fell. For me, at least, this film succeeded where C.S. Forester's epics failed.
Peter Weir has allowed only one compromise in his courtship of that mass market. Captain Aubrey's original target was an American ship, not a French one. It seems that, ever since Vietnam, at least, American audiences have become too used to being winners for them to accept an account, even a ficticious one, in which their would-be forbears end up blown to smithereens.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best Seafaring Movie I've Ever Seen, 16 Oct 2006
I never read the books but accidentally stumbled on this on TV recently.

I had expected a brain dead shoot em up "Gladiator at sea" (not wishing to be too unkind to Gladiator). I was completely wrong. Had I known Peter Weir directed at the beginning, I would have realised. This is a hugely impressive film. The script bristles with intelligence and sophistication, deftly touching upon many themes, even though the primary narrative is the pursuit of the French warship. This is course gives the film continuous momentum and suspense. But the suspense is also dervived from the simmering tension (bordering on ouright mutiny) on board the ship. There is surprisingly little in the way of action scenes and the film is all the better for it - action and violence is used only sparingly and to great effect and the concerns at the heart of the film are far more interesting and sometimes profound. The photography is beautiful, the pace and direction are perfect and at the centre of it all, Russell Crowe displays (as a Captain should) poise, composure and huge intelligence in the role - he is literally, the ballast and anchor that holds the cast together. But in the final analysis huge praise must go to Peter Weir - the guy just can't help himself from making cinematic masterpieces over and over again.

It is often said that this movie was not a huge commercial success and that therefore, there may be no sequel - that would be a terrible shame.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "For England, for home, and for the prize!",, 31 Mar 2005
By 
Kona (Emerald City) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This exciting swashbuckling epic takes place aboard the British frigate, HMS Surprise. Captain Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe) has orders to destroy, or take as prize, the French warship Acheron, off the coast of Brazil. Most of the film concerns the day to day life aboard ship and we get to know the men very well. The Captain is a warm, intelligent man who enjoys puns and playing the violin as much as he loves the sea. There is the ship's doctor (Paul Bettany) who is the Captain's friend and confidant and Midshipman Blakeney (Max Pirkis), one of many young boys who are learning about the sea and will one day be captains of their own ships. The crew engage the Acheron in battle, and the Captain asks the men to defeat the enemy for England, for home, and for the prize.
This is Russell Crowe's best role to date, and he rates a 10 on the Macho-Meter. He is gallant, brave, handsome, and kind in a very appealing performance. The story is told at a leisurely pace, allowing us to feel the rolling of the ship, the camaraderie of the men, the adventure of it all. The battle scenes are exciting, but not gory. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and recommend it to those who want heroic, sensitive characters that you care about, a literate script, and masterful direction.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping Film, 24 Jun 2004
"Imagine a movie that lasts more than two hours and during that time only shows the confrontation of two ships near the coast of South America. Sounds like a very boring premise, right? Wrong!"
When the film finished and I thought about it I realised the whole story had been set around just two ships, it's quite amazing that a film can include so much variety within a, from the outset, tight plot.
I think the realism of this film really makes it, you really can imagine two ships from great nations battling to take control of the ocean. Russell Crowe is the perfect casting for the part of Lucky Jack. He has that in command feel yet can be thoughtful when required.
If you are looking at this movie thinking it's a pirate-type movie, think again because it really isn't. O'Brian's books are based on real accounts and this is reflected in the film. There are no parrots or eye patches!
The special features offer a very nice insight into the creation of the film, I enjoyed watching them after I'd seen the film itself. I would strongly suggest you watch the Making Of featurettes after seeing the actual film otherwise the realism isn't quite so real...
This movie gets 5 stars from me, very hard to pull yourself away from watching even if nature calls!!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 219 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World [Blu-ray] [2003]
7.52
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews