Movie Review: Master and Commander

December 15, 2003

In short: Good flick, go see it. A British captain, commanding HMS Surprise, is sent out after a new French ship-of-the-line, Acheron. After being out-maneuvered twice by the French captain, Crowe's character develops a bit of an Ahab complex in his pursuit.

Keeping this action-oriented captain in check is his chief surgeon (this sound familiar to any geeks out there?), who would rather be cataloging the new species of the Galapogos than repairing the damage wrought by a full-on broadside attack.

As the Brits are the good guys, and the French are the French, Acheron is eventually captured after a long, dangerous cat-and-mouse game.

I know I'm showing myself to be a major geek by saying this, but this movie struck me as a 19th-century episode of Star Trek in many ways. The dialog between the captain and surgeon could have easily been written as Kirk-McCoy exchanges, right down to the nature of the arguments. The events leading up to Surprise's capture of Acheron had me leaning forward in my seat like the Enterprise-Reliant confrontation at the end of Wrath of Khan. Even the final scene could have been lifted nearly word-for-word from the Kirk-Spock-McCoy banter at the end of an episode.

That all made me enjoy the movie even more -- even though the setting was different the feel was very familiar -- I don't think anyone else in the theater was disappointed with it. All in all, it's a very good way to spend $8.50 and 130 minutes.

Before I finish, though, I'd like to deliver a big, hearty fuck-you to the MPAA. Recently they've started adding a series of red dots, about a quarter the diameter of a change-reel marker, in patterns across the middle of the screen. Like a change-reel they only last for a few frames but these are dead-center on the screen instead of in the corner.

Their purpose is to allow the MPAA to view a bootleg copy and know which theater the pirated copy was recorded at. What it did for me was to interrupt a very well-done scene and pull me out of the movie for a few seconds. Not everybody can see them, but if you can it's irritating.

So, to sum up: Movie, good. Red dots, bad.If you're the type who doesn't see the change-reel marker you won't notice the dots, so go ahead and give it a look. If you are going to see the dots it can still be worth it, but like I said it can pull you out of the movie for a sec. But even with that, I don't think this is one you should wait to see on DVD.

December 12, 2003December 16, 2003