Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003) - Collector's Edition

Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Drama / Historical Epic / War
Fox || PG13 - 138 minutes - $39.99 || April 20, 2004
Reviewer: Elyusha Vafaeisefat || Posted On: 2004-07-15


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Peter Weir
Writer(s): Patrick O'Brian (novels), Peter Weir (screenplay) & John Collee (screenplay)
Cast: Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany, James D'Arcy, Edward Woodall, Chris Larkin, Max Pirkis


Theatrical Release Date: November 14, 2003


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:

    Disc 1:
  • Feature Film


  • Disc 2:
  • "The Hundred Days" Documentary
  • "In the Wake of O'Brian" Featurette
  • Cinematic Phasmids
  • Interactive Cannon Demonstrations
  • Deleted Scenes
  • HBO First Look
  • Multi-Angle Battle Scene Studies
  • Split-Screen Vignette
  • Still Galleries


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World was (and still is) without question my favorite film of 2003. Not to mention one of my all time favorite films as well. The film is just beautiful to look at from every angle. Russell Boyd's Academy Award winning Cinematography is stunning along with the direction of legendary director Peter Weir (who has been nominated for SIX Academy Awards and is STILL unfortunately empty handed). It really was a shame that the film only came away with 2 Oscar wins this past year. Had it not been for the Lord of the Rings phenomenon, Master and Commander would surely have won more Oscars. It is just one of those rare films that you wish would be longer or would never end.

The performances from the entire cast are simply amazing as well. Russell Crowe once again proves that he is arguably the best actor working in Hollywood. I don't think there is one type of role he is not capable of playing (which is the reason why he is my favorite actor working today). Paul Bettany's performance is amazing as well. I am still mad that he wasn't able to pick up an Oscar nomination for his performance in this film. Bettany will definitely be a star on the rise and will win an Oscar before his career is done, mark my words. The young actors Max Pirkis and Max Benitz also turn in great performances.

The authenticity and detail is just extremely well done. I know many reviewers like to say they were "taken into another world," but in the case of Master and Commander, it is very true. This film IS NOT an action film where you see soldiers fight every ten minutes. While the action scenes are spectacular to look at, they do not happen every 5 minutes. The heart of the film is about the lives of these soldiers on the ship. It is about the bonds, fellowships and sometimes splitting friendships for these men. Weir displays these relationships very well. You really feel like you are on this ship. The men on the ship look very much like a man from the early 19th century too. The screenplay was thoroughly researched so that it conveyed a realistic style in terms of its dialogue. Anyone who is interested in history will definitely enjoy the realism of the film.

I can certainly say that any true fan of film will appreciate and enjoy the amount of time and effort that was put into Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. One of the most intelligent, authentic and just plain great films I have ever seen.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The extras on the DVD are probably among the best that have ever been put together for any DVD release. Fox said that they wanted to put together a DVD that would win some awards and if I could hand out the awards myself, this one would take them all.

The first extra is titled "The Hundred Days", and it is a very in depth look at the making of the film. It runs about 1 hour and 10 minutes and is very thorough and interesting to watch. You learn about everything from the building of the ship and all the great craftsmanship that went into the film to the training of Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany for the instruments they play in the film. I would most definitely rank this documentary among the best of all time for any DVD.

The DVD also includes three featurettes. The first, "Cinematic Phasmids" is all about the miniatures and models used to create the illusion of a real ship in the film. I knew that the film used models, miniatures and CGI very much in the film but to see how well they blended these elements together to create the illusion of a ship is very interesting to look at. This extra runs about 30 minutes and is great for anyone interested in movie-making "secrets" and techniques in terms of visual effects.

The second featurette is all about the great sound design that went into the film. Sound Editor Richard King (who won an Oscar for designing the sound for this film) shows you all the techniques and detail that went into every creak and explosion in the film. It is very interesting to watch because you see all the different props used to create various sounds in the film. While you watch the film, it probably would never cross your mind how that certain sound was created. The DVD also includes an interactive cannon demonstration which allows you to hear sounds from the film.

The third featurette is the 25 minute HBO "First Look". It is pretty much a standard HBO "First Look," but still great to watch. Some of the topics they discuss are covered in the "Hundred Days," documentary, but some of the topics are new.

The DVD also includes 6 deleted scenes which run about 23 minutes total. The deleted scenes are titled: "Weighing Anchor", "Shipboard Life", "Superstition", "Dentistry", "Articles of War", and "Galapagos." Many of them are montages of new scenes cut together. For the most part, the scenes are just more footage showing the sailors in their everyday lives. Although all of them are great, none really stand out in terms of being the best. I can see why they were cut, but at the same time, it would be great to see them added in to a Director's Cut in the future.

The DVD also comes with a 20 minute documentary about the life of the writer of the 20 volume Master and Commander novels, Patrick O'Brian. Peter Weir discusses O'Brian's work as well as the different elements he took from a combination of novels to write the screenplay for Master and Commander. Definitely a great look at the life of Patrick O'Brian and the research and authenticity he looked for when writing his novels.

The film also includes a multi angle look at the battle scenes. You get to see the different set-ups Peter Weir used to capture the great "chaos" in the opening and final battles. This feature also includes a Split-Screen Vignette, which allows you to see all the cameras used at once. The DVD also includes four Still Galleries showing the conceptual art of Daren Dochterman and George Jensen. In addition, the galleries include a collection of naval art and some technical drawings.

Last but not least, the film also includes three trailers for the film. They are the teaser, full trailer and a short international trailer. The DVD also includes a collectible 28 page booklet which details the film's production. In addition to that, they have also included a fold-out map showing the journey of the H.M.S. Surprise in the film.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

The sound and picture for the DVD are simply stunning. The picture is near perfect and the sound is as crisp as you can get. I would give it a perfect rating, but I did notice 1 or 2 slight problems with the picture, but nothing major at all. For the sound options, the DVD has a perfect DTS 5.1 track, both English and French Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, as well as a Spanish Dolby Surround mix. I think they did a great job of trying to capture the sound of the film onto the DVD. I would definitely rank the video transfer and sound quality among the best I've ever seen for a DVD.



.::OVERALL::.

Overall, this 2 Disc Collector's Set is a must own for anyone who enjoyed the film. Almost any question you might have about the film is answered in the various documentaries and featurettes included in the DVD. I would say that the only thing missing from the DVD is a commentary by Peter Weir, but the 70-minute "Hundred Days" documentary as well as Weir's discussions of O'Brian provides plenty of insight into his process of making the film. With an amazing range of extras, great sound/video quality and great packaging, the Master and Commander 2-Disc Collector's Edition is one of the best DVD's ever released and a must own by any DVD collector or big fan of the film.