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Hornblower as Superman
on 28 October 2007
In terms of story and acting, the Hornblower series can stand side-by-side quite easily with the likes of Hollywood's "Master and Commander", but the effects and realism present in the latter blow the Hornblower series below the waterline. Having said that, though, the series is a worthy effort at portraying life aboard His Majesty's ships during the time of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.
This particular episode is one of the later ones, made in 2002. The story is believable in outline, the effects and photography are good at a stretch, but I am constantly reminded that I am watching British TV and not a Hollywood blockbuster. Ioan Gruffudd is convincing as the valiant Hornblower, and everyone in front of and behind the camera is trying so hard. But then, and then ... they blow it! They push credulity too far, as Hornblower morphs into superman and the story becomes hopelessly unrealistic. For example, with the French lined up like a firing squad, facing the sea, and ready to shoot Hornblower and his party, somehow all these Frenchmen fail to see the British party rowing in to rescue their comrades! Another example is Hornblower's blowing up of the French fort: it looks like it had enough explosives to create an atom bomb and yet Hornblower, our hero, barely has a dirty jacket let alone any serious injuries.
Ah well, so long as them Frenchies are beaten, what do we care! But for just a little more consideration of the storyline and a little less bombast and heroics, and this episode might have been almost perfect in concept and execution.