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Commander enlightens, excites audience

In typical Russell Crowe style, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, is filled with brilliant action sequences, high drama and stupendous special effects.

Bearing remarkable resemblance to Crowe’s Academy Award winning performance in 2000’s Gladiator, Master and Commander concentrates on a singular hero in the middle of the Napoleonic Wars. However, the film loses focus during non-action sequences and the plot flatlines.

Depicting the life of a British naval captain in 1805, Crowe’s ship, the Surprise, is the last remaining between Napolean’s fleet and full control of the Pacific Ocean. Crowe’s character, Capt. “Lucky” Jack Aubrey, battles against the superior French ship Acheron and its phantom commander for control of the waters on the coast of Brazil.

The movie opens with instant action, as the Acheron appears suddenly from a fog bank and severely damages Crowe’s ship. While the crew aboard the Surprise admits defeat and suggests returning to England for repairs, Crowe embarks on a personal mission of revenge against the Acheron.

Throughout the film, Crowe is driven by his pride and patriotism, two qualities that often cloud his judgment. Crowe’s desire to defeat the Acheron and fulfill his duty often greatly endangers the lives of the men he commands and his own life as well.

The decision over whether to decide to head home to England or continue to fight plagues Crowe throughout the film but, ultimately, Crowe decides the call of duty is too strong to turn back.

However, in an unexpected twist, the Acheron’s captain again outfoxes Crowe, as the Acheron appears behind the Surprise and opens fire. Only a daring escape by Crowe into the night saves the Surprise from destruction.

After these initial action scenes, the motion picture becomes enveloped in displaying the hardships of life on the sea. This concept is shown through Crowe’s surgeon on the ship, Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany), who enjoys being a “naturalist.”

However, Maturin finds himself confined by the demands of sea life and his duties as doctor, which frustrates him throughout the film and strains his friendship with Crowe.

After adeptly illustrating sea life, Master and Commander concludes with Crowe executing his plan to seize the Acheron as a prize by utilizing his masterful deception and guile.

Master and Commander succeeds because of Crowe’s ability to carry a movie through his stardom. The best aspect of Crowe’s performance in this film is how he captures the role of leader on the ship and draws the audience into the movie. The audience can feel that they are actually present on the ship and are rooting for Crowe to win. The enlightening glimpses into the life of a seaman and how Master and Commander directly relates to the audience gives this movie a B-.

Master and Commander is rated PG-13 and is showing at Edwards Stadium 21 in the Riverpark Shopping Center and Signature Theatres in the Manchester shopping center.

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