Universal acclaim - based on 42 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 42
  2. Negative: 1 out of 42

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Critic Reviews

  1. 100
    Isn't just a fabulous seagoing spectacle. It's one for the ages.
  2. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Master and Commander is to movies what Russell Crowe is to acting. With subtlety and power, it explores the complexities of men at war, even with themselves. It puts the passion into action, and the thrill into thought.
  3. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Rare proof that a gigantic production in contemporary Hollywood can possess a distinctive personality and its own approach to storytelling, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World proves as bracing as a stiff wind on the open sea.
  4. One of this year's best films--a classic, even, like a C.S. Forester "Hornblower" story on steroids.
  5. As magnificent as a high-masted 19th-century British warship, as explosive as a Napoleonic-era ocean battle seen above the cannon's mouth... probably the best movie of its kind ever made.
  6. 100
    Stupendously entertaining.
  7. This is a rip-roaring adventure combining edge-of-your-seat battle scenes with vivid historical details and more fascinating characters than most action movies dream of. Add heartfelt acting and Russell Boyd's atmospheric camera work, and you have the adventure movie of the year.
  8. 100
    Magnificent and heartfelt.
  9. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Just as Aubrey's authority springs from skill and knowledge, so does the film's power. They don't make movies like this any more because few people know how to make them.
  10. 100
    Like the work of David Lean, it achieves the epic without losing sight of the human, and to see it is to be reminded of the way great action movies can rouse and exhilarate us, can affirm life instead of simply dramatizing its destruction.
  11. 100
    When it comes to the oft-doomed genre of seafaring adventure, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is a spectacular throwback and a great leap forward.
  12. 91
    It's a wonderfully crafted work, handsome, lively, stirring and utterly convincing in its depiction of the perils and thrills of sea life. But I'm not sure that my personal enthusiasm for it will translate entirely for viewers whose favorite movie about the high seas is, for perfectly good reasons, "Pirates of the Caribbean."
  13. A story in full billow; it sails through stretches of bloody battle, anxious waiting, wine-soaked relaxation, and marvelous scientific discoveries by the remarkable Maturin (Paul Bettany, well matched again with his ''A Beautiful Mind'' costar).
  14. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    Master and Commander hooks you from its nifty opening salvo to its nifty closing punch line.
  15. The epic adventure, set during the Napoleonic Wars, boasts at least two artists at the top of their respective games -- namely filmmaker Peter Weir and actor Russell Crowe.
  16. 90
    On a production of this magnitude, few actors have the presence to assert themselves above the cacophony, but Crowe carries the film with the rare combination of charisma and brute masculinity that has made him a star.
  17. Few actors can be as convincing as leaders of men, and to see Crowe as Capt. Jack Aubrey in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is to see a consummate performer doing what he does best.
  18. Reviewed by: Jason Matloff
    Weir consistently proves that he can take any kind of material and adeptly make it his own.
  19. 88
    Crowe -- fierce, funny and every inch the hero -- gives a blazing star performance.
  20. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    And novel insights notwithstanding, this is a plain old good movie, too.
  21. An intimate epic of infinite grace.
  22. As gorgeous and gripping as it is faithful to the spirit of Patrick O'Brian's celebrated series of historical novels.
  23. 88
    A thoughtful, rousing and beautifully crafted epic.
  24. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    The opening 15 minutes of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World are so well crafted that they restore your faith in commercial cinema.
  25. The music, art direction and camerawork blend together with an integrity and scope that's wonderfully exhilarating. Every frame seems to communicate the grandeur, power and fatal pull of the sea.
  26. 78
    A humanistic adventure film that's both rich with characterization and concussive cannon bursts, Master and Commander is, surprisingly, some of the best work either Crowe or Weir have ever done.
  27. 75
    For those with any interest in 18th and 19th century seafaring or naval warfare, this is a must-see motion picture. For others, it's an enlightening and entertaining experience.
  28. They've made a thrilling traditional nautical picture from untraditional books.
  29. 75
    What makes Master and Commander so bracing and transporting -- what makes the movie feel unlike any adventure film you've seen before -- is the precise detail and care with which Weir places us aboard the HMS Surprise.
  30. In this journey, [Crowe] wears the uniform, the accent and the derring-do with consummate panache. Have him strike a muscular pose on the ship's prow, which Weir does more than once, and the manly sight puts that wussy DiCaprio to titanic shame.
  31. 70
    The best boy’s adventure of the year.
  32. 70
    Persuasively re-creates the experience of sailing aboard a British man-o'-war during the Napoleonic era, but its story never attains comparable grandeur.
  33. The New Yorker
    Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    What the novels leave us with, and what emerges more fitfully from this film, as if in shafts of sunlight, is the growing realization that, although our existence is indisputably safer, softer, cleaner, and more dependable than the lives led by Captain Aubrey and his men, theirs were in some immeasurable way better. [17 November 2003, p. 172]
  34. The director of "Gallipoli" and "The Year of Living Dangerously" has muffled the rage and darkness of his best work in favor of an antiquated pleasingness. Master and Commander is a too-comfy classic.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 504 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Sep 6, 2010
    For all those who gave this film a negative review and for those people wondering about watching it I say this: If you think that moreFor all those who gave this film a negative review and for those people wondering about watching it I say this: If you think that more explosions = more fun and you think that Transformers (Good film) and Transformers 2 (Horrible film) are the height of movie making then DO NOT watch this film. It is NOT a traditional action movie. It is for people who appreciate the art of storytelling and of watching a wonderful script from a classic book series woven into an artfully built crescendo. A story where the characters are not simply 1 dimensional but are given time on screen to build depth so that you truly feel for them when both wonderful and tragic things occur. Some people call this boring. THEY ARE WRONG. They simply have the attention span of a moth. This is a rich & rewarding movie experience for those with patience and a true appreciation for the craft of epic moviemaking. Full Review »
  2. Mar 3, 2012
    This film masquerades as a high-adventure war picture, but is actually at its heart, a simple and perfectly-told story of friendship andThis film masquerades as a high-adventure war picture, but is actually at its heart, a simple and perfectly-told story of friendship and camaraderie. The pursuit of the French vessel, magnificent as it is, is just the backdrop to this elegant, emotionally stirring and intellectually powerful narrative. Easily one of my top ten favorite films of all time. All of the haters can go watch something that appeals more to their intellectual level, like Transformers 2. Full Review »
  3. Jul 1, 2012
    The type of people below who say this movie is boring and uninteresting are the same type of people who can not appreciate art. They citeThe type of people below who say this movie is boring and uninteresting are the same type of people who can not appreciate art. They cite things such as boredom, because they are not intelligent enough to watch the little details that went into making a film of this caliber. This is an excellent film by Peter Weir with an extremely interesting premise and great historical authenticity for a film. It's a very historical movie based in the Napoleonic Wars. So if you're not into history you may not like it so much...but to call it boring, uninteresting, and ill-written is an utter disgrace. It's okay to call something that is **** exactly that. But just because your mind is tuned to follow more formulaic and "explosive" movies with complete bull**** does not give you the right to call a finely tuned, acted, written, scored, and directed piece of art such a moniker. Shame on all of those who have done such a thing here, may you forever rot in the sullen lethargy that is your narrow intellect. tl;dr-- Screw you if you don't like this **** **** movie. Full Review »