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Master and Commander

The Far Side of the World

Despite one of the most unappealing and drab trailers of all time as well as a title that leaves you high and dry (is it a Hollywood action extravaganza, a dreary ship flick full of guys who look like they all have scurvy or even an S & M send-up?), Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is a must-see. I know - it's hard to believe, but this film really is amazing from beginning to end.

Based on acclaimed author Patrick O'Brian's series of novels and directed by Peter Weir, it tells the unassuming yet grand tale of Captain Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe) and the men on his ship, including the doctor Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany) who is also Aubrey's confidant and childhood friend, all a part of the best military unit in the world- The British Navy. Stationed off the coast of Brazil during the reign of Napoleon, the ship is attacked by a mysterious foe, sparking off a majestic adventure that takes the men all the way to the "far side of the world"- the Galapagos Islands; thus, becoming the first feature film to be shot on the amazing islands.

This directorial feat is as much based on the battle scenes, as is it on the development of its characters. Such a fine balance is a feat in and of itself. The most beautiful and complex component of the movie is the camaraderie and interaction between the men of the boat- from the lowly shipmen to the high-ranking officers to the young officers-in-training. Furthermore, the push and pull between Aubrey and Maturin only accentuates this element.

The ship is a model of efficiency with which Aubrey commands with great grace and pride. Even in the face of incredible pressure, there are always impeccable British manners being exhibited. The battle scenes will blow you away, no pun intended. Indeed, there are many moments when you will be left in awe - and that's just the first 10 minutes.

Stars: 5 out of 5