A/V Room









Master and Commander - US reaction

Compiled by: Jack Foley

IT MAY have been dubbed ‘Gladiator on the High Seas’ as part of the hype ahead of release, but Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World looks set to become a classic in its own right, now that it has finally set sail in American cinemas.

Critics across the pond have been queuing up to heap praise upon the movie, which is based upon Patrick O'Brian’s classic novels, and which opens in UK cinemas at the end of this month.

Leading the fanfare is the Chicago Tribune, which hailed it as ‘probably the best movie of its kind ever made’, while Entertainment Weekly wrote that ‘this apt and sensitive introduction to O'Brian's ripping maritime tales manages to make a period-piece saga feel modern - capturing something timeless in the characters of all men’. It awarded it an A-.

The New York Times felt that ‘Master and Commander hums with humor, passion and life’, while its LA counterpart opined that the film ‘intends to be an intelligent epic, but it's the epic qualities more than the intelligence that hold us’.

The Dallas Morning News, meanwhile, predicted that ‘Mr Weir will possibly get his fifth nomination for Oscar gold, but everybody - from costume designer, Wendy Stites, to Australians, Iva Davies, Richard Tognetti and Christopher Gordon, who composed the classic-pop score - deserves three cheers’.


Furthering the goodwill was Rolling Stone, which referred to it as ‘a rousing high-seas adventure that sweeps you into another world’, while the New Times hailed it as ‘Weir's finest film since the brilliant The Mosquito Coast’, adding that ‘[Paul] Bettany is terrific’.

Variety described it as ‘rare proof that a gigantic production in contemporary Hollywood can possess a distinctive personality’, and noted that ‘Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World proves as bracing as a stiff wind on the open sea’.

CNN, meanwhile, felt that it is ‘a masterful and majestic film that leaps off the screen’.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, meanwhile, felt that ‘every frame seems to communicate the grandeur, power and fatal pull of the sea’.

And Hollywood Reporter wrote that it is ‘a constantly compelling picture that pays as much attention to the quieter aspects of character motivation as it does to those rousing action sequences’.

There was the odd negative notice, posted, however, with LA Weekly noting that while ‘the mechanics of shipboard life are lovingly elaborated, for an adventure tale there's little enough action’, and Slant Magazine referring to it as ‘unfortunately dull’.

But the general feeling was summed up by, which described it, simply, as ‘extraordinary and award-worthy’.

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