DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
International DVDs
Theatrical
Adult
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
XCritic.com
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Special Offer

Search: For:
Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Master and Commander: Far Side of the World (1-DVD Edition)
Master and Commander: Far Side of the World (1-DVD Edition)
Fox // R // April 20, 2004
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted March 14, 2004 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly
The Movie:

"This is the second time he's done this to me, there won't be a third."


Issues with the film aside, I must commend the studios involved with "Master and Commander" for even getting the picture made in the first place. Remarkably expensive at a reported $125 million (some put the figure higher), the picture doesn't offer an epic romance, portrays only a couple of massive battles throughout the 138-minute running time and focuses the majority of its energy on developing characters and story. It's more concerned with what it was like to call one of these ships home.

Based on the novels of Patrick O'Brian, "Master and Commander" takes place in 1805 on the HMS Surprise, captained by Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe). The ship's doctor, Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany) is the ship's doctor and, despite their differences, Aubrey's long-time friend. Their mission is to stop the French ship Acheron, which engages them first in a dense Fog off the coast of South America. The first meeting is a disaster: the Surprise is outguned and overpowered by the French ship, only escaping due to a clever plan by Aubrey to slip away.

The remainder of the film is a cat-and-mouse game between the two ships, with the chase going through the Atlantic and Pacific. Between the film's three enormous battles, we get to hear more from the characters, learn a bit about naval planning, experience life at sea and other subplots, such as Maturin's desire to find new forms of life, leading to conflict and exploration once the ship reaches the Galapagos Islands.

The issues that I had with the film upon the first viewing seem lessened on the second. When I saw the film theatrically, I felt that some of the stretches between attacks could have been tightened by a few minutes, as the pacing of the film sometimes could be a little less deliberate. On the other hand, a little more time might have allowed the film to offer a longer introduction to some of the supporting characters that are not presented with much detail.

Aside from a few moments that could have used a little bit of tightening, it's difficult to find fault with director Peter Weir's epic feature. The attention to detail is astonishing, Weir's reunion with cinematographer Russell Boyd results in some utterly stunning images, the performances are terrific, the sound design remarkable and the visual effects seamless. Supporting performances are excellent, but Bettany and Crowe (who worked together on "Beautiful Mind") are terrific in the leads, with each working with and against each other wonderfully, each offering their side of the bigger picture.

Overall, while I appreciated "Master and Commander" upon theatrical viewing, the film actually seemed to flow even a little better the second time around, and I was also able to further appreciate the film's attention to detail. The film really does remain one of the most amazing productions to hit the screen in a while, and one of the finest films of 2003.


The DVD

VIDEO: "Master and Commander" is presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen by Fox. Given the amount of soundtracks present, the film's running time and other issues, such as the occasional fog in the film, Fox must be commended for bringing together such a fine presentation. Sharpness and detail are stellar, with even low-lit scenes in the ship's quarters looking very well-defined and crisp, with fine details often apparent.

Some scenes scattered throughout the film did seem to have a slight hint of edge enhancement present, but this wasn't much of a distraction. The picture otherwise appeared smooth, with no instances of pixelation and a print that appeared in first-rate shape, with no dirt or debris. The film's naturalistic, rather dark color palette looked beautifully presented, with no smearing or other issues. Black level remained solid, while flesh tones appeared accurate.

SOUND: "Master and Commander" is presented by Fox in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1. The film didn't win an Oscar found and get nominated for another for nothing. Richard King ("Twister", "Signs") and the film's sound design team have created a remarkable experience for the audience that rarely lets up, even in the film's more dialogue-driven stretches. Surrounds are almost constantly alive with the sounds of waves splashing, crew walking or chattering, wind, the ship creaking, cannon fire, rain and other sound effects. Whether subtle or fierce, there always seemed to be some background details present in the film's sound mix.

Audio quality was astonishing, as dialogue sounded natural and unusually clear. Canon fire and other powerful sound effects sounded extremely dynamic, packing a very deep low-bass punch. The other surprising quality I noted with the film's sound is how much depth and openness there is to it. Even moreso on the DTS option, the soundtrack seems to provide an astonishing and very convincing sense of envelopment. This is certainly demo material and a terrific overall presentation.

EXTRAS: This 1-DVD edition of the film contains a brief featurette about upcoming Fox films ("Day After Tomorrow", "Man on Fire" and "I, Robot"). There is also a 2-DVD special edition of "Master and Commander", available for about $10 more. This edition provides documentaries on the making of the film, deleted scenes, galleries and more. Fans should certainly consider seeking out the Special Edition.

Final Thoughts: "Master and Commander" is a grand epic, with stellar performances and incredible visuals. Despite being a massive and risky production, Peter Weir has succeeded in delivering a very satisfying, entertaining drama. Fox's single disc edition of the film doesn't offer the wealth of supplements that the 2-DVD edition offers, but still certainly boasts tremendous audio/video quality. Highly Recommended.

Popular Reviews
1. The Equalizer (2014)
2. Ben-Hur (Diamond Luxe Edition)
3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
4. Natural Born Killers: 20th Anniversary
5. Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
6. The Long Goodbye
7. Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season Seven
8. Tales From The Crypt / Vault Of Horror
9. Running Scared
10. The Skeleton Twins


Special Offers
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Special Offers
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2014 DVDTalk.com All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use