When a movie does poorly at the box office, there are a few good explanations for why it did. It was released at the wrong time, it didn't get enough word of mouth or it just wasn't good. In the case of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, it was probably the second one.
The year is 1805. Europe has fallen to Napoleon, and only the Royal Navy stands in his way to total victory. Off the coast of South America, a new conflict is brewing. Captain Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe) of the HMS Surprise is under orders to sink or capture the French privateer Acheron, which has been deployed to the region. After seven weeks of uneventful sailing, the Acheron strikes first, all but crippling the Surprise in an engagement in which Aubrey realizes his enemy's ship is nautically superior to his own. Along with his close friend and confidant Stephan Maturin (Paul Bettany) who also happens to be the ship's surgeon, Aubrey is now faced with the choice of retreating to England and admitting defeat or remaining at the Acheron's mercy. Aubrey must now do the impossible if he is to survive, repair his ship, catch up to his enemy and defeat the Acheron -- somehow.
This is one of those movies where I wondered why it didn't do so well commercially. It's actually really good. The cinematography is stunning, the acting is really good and the action is awesome. The direction of Peter Weir, whose previous works include Dead Poets Society, The Truman Show and Witness, is excellent. Is this one to miss? Nope.
My Rating: ****1/2