Friday, March 26, 2010

Top Ten #6 - Master and Commander-The Far Side of the World

This is a movie I initially didn't really think too highly of and didn't even really care about until I first watched it; I thought it was going to be a boring, second-rate pirate movie. I've always thought that it had bad luck in being released within a few months of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie; even though it was several months apart I still think that was one of the main reasons it didn't do as good as it should have done at the box office. It's really too bad this film didn't receive more attention, because Master and Commander is by far one of the best movies I've ever seen.

Russel Crowe and Paul Bettany play the two main characters, Captain Jack Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Mautrin, and the two interact with absolutely perfect chemistry; it really does feel like the two men have been on many long voyages together. The banter and dialogue between the characters is exquisite, and really it's a a joy two watch two such good friends interact so well.

This is in my mind, a nearly perfect movie. The cinematography is absolutely outstanding and some of the best I've ever seen in a movie; from sweeping shots of the Galapagos Islands (accompanied by Yo-Yo-Ma's masterful cello playing) to intense and violent shots of battle to more intimate close up shots of the officers of the ship fellowshipping, absolutely 10/10 for the cinematography. The music, comprised of mostly classical pieces, ranks as one of the best scores for a movie I've ever hear, period. All the acting is nothing less than fantastic, with everyone from cabin boys to the captain being portrayed as well as could possibly be.

There are some hard to watch moments here though, as life on board a ship of war is not all pleasantries. In one heart-wrenching scene the crew is forced to cut loose a man cut overboard so as to save the ship, and it definitely comes in as one of the saddest and hardest to watch scenes I've ever seen. The battle scenes are intense, violent and bloody and is again a very faithful depiction of the brutal style of combat needed for boarding a ship.

Master and Commander is a brilliant depiction of life on a ship of war during the Napoleonic era. The courage and strength of Capt. Jack Aubrey in his leadership is portrayed brilliantly by Crowe in one of his best performances. While at times a brutal and harsh movie, it also is one of the well-shot, poignant, and honest look at the strength and bravery needed to survive the life at sea, and also the strengths of the friendships and loyalty that are also forged on the wooden world of Master and Commander.

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