Master And Commander

Review Date:
Director: Peter Weir
Writer: Peter Weir, John Collee
Producers: Peter Weir, Samuel Goldwyn Jr., Duncan Henderson, John Manulis
Russell Crowe as Capt. Jack Aubrey, Paul Bettany as Dr. Maturin , Billy Boyd as Barrett Bonden
It’s 1805 and the British ship “Surprise” is looking for the French ship “Acheron”. When they finally meet, the stronger and more modern French ship delivers heavy damage onto the Brits. So what do the English do in return? Well, they keep on truckin’ as Captain Lucky Jack pumps his crew up in search of the French ship once again. The audience, on the other hand, falls asleep.
Can you say “boooooooooooooooooooring”? Yeah? Well, now repeat it for about two hours and you pretty much get the gist of what I felt like while watching this movie. Yipes! I don’t mind uneventful movies as long as they have something interesting to say, but this flick didn’t even have that! They should have renamed its already cruddy title to “One Week Aboard a Ship with a Bunch of Boorish Men Who From Time to Time Run into the Enemy and Do Battle, but Mostly…Don’t Do Much” Consider the length of the film, which runs over two hours but brings very little to the table. Consider the old-time cheesy dialogue, which on top of being hard to understand at times, was just plain stale (“You have more chances of finding an honest man in Parliament”? Pleaaaaze) Consider the characters, many of whom are interchangeable, other than the two leads and two kids, with folks dying here and there, and me not caring, there and here. And finally…consider the plot, which I could have drawn out for you before even stepping one foot into the theater. Unexpected…it is not. Even Russell Crowe, whose characters usually command any screen, bored me with a decent showing of a dreary captain who ultimately comes up with a strategy of attack from a source so ridiculously stupid, that I can’t believe folks actually let that pass through the rewrites. Top that with a dry score, a handful of “battle scenes”, the last of which is about unmemorable as my last four dates combined, with choppy editing and little originality, and the film just sits there, staring at you, hoping that you might give a shit about a bunch of guys who slowly float across the ocean, with stops to drink, eat, play violin, eat some more and feature one too many close-ups of one guy’s fingers that read “Hold Fast” while ultimately bringing very little of interest or excitement to the forefront.

The film wasn’t so bad as it was just a “technically sound” re-creation of days gone by and to credit it for that, would be something, if it was actually created as a documentary, which is what it often felt like. Human drama? I didn’t feel it. Exhilarating action? Not here. Well-developed characters? I beg to differ. And if Crowe’s uninteresting character wasn’t the whole ball of wax, consider Paul Bettany as the doctor/naturalist whose apparent hobby for collecting newfound insects takes over chunks of the film. Is this supposed to engage me? I don’t know, maybe this film is just out of my age range, maybe you’re supposed to be “into” the whole battleship thing and care to stare at a bunch of smoke and ropes or listen to bellows and grunts for two hours+, but in the world in which I live (and no, I’m not on the Far Side of it-maybe that’s the problem!), you actually need to give me a reason to give half a rat’s ass about the characters on the screen, or at the very least, toss some memorable action sequences in there, or interesting personalities, etc… Looking back, the film looked pretty, the opening sequence was a jolt, the time period was recreated authentically and even the performances were good enough to consider worthy of praise, but I was looking for depth, something interesting, some reason to keep watching and yeah…an answer to how an 8-year old child can be given command of a ship at the drop of a hat! Needless to say, this film did very little to impress me and instead, provided me plenty of rest, plenty of questions about its actual purpose and plenty of reasons NOT to recommend it to anyone who, like me, isn’t interested in spending over two hours with a bunch of half-assed characters traveling through one dull sea adventure (and I use the term “adventure”, loosely).

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian

Master And Commander