Monday, January 28, 2008

The Greater of All Weevils

Despite my maiden surname, I have no British blood, and the closest I've been to England is having gained, via reading many Regency-era novels, the knowledge that one is supposed to refer to the mother of a duke as "Her Grace The Dowager Duchess." At the Kennedy Space Center, we educators used to fight over who got the visitors from England; when arrayed in folding chairs before a scale model of the space shuttle, they were interested, polite, tip-happy, and easily sunburned. You would have a good day on a bus full of Brits.

However, as is my wont, I waited six years for Master and Commander to souse the culture before seeing it for myself. And Master and Commander would have us believe that British people could neither master, nor command, a Clapper, let alone an entire empire.

The British navy, according to this film, is the largest collection of dumbasses, tools, and whiners ever to take to the high seas. Their strategy of eluding a heavily armed French warship is to row into the fog... and then go "YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!" And hey, is that an albatross flying really, really low over the deck? Let's shoot it!

It was fascinating to watch 18th century concepts of child care, especially in light of the fact that every single time Jim and Will The Nephews enter a car, they are ruched down and strapped in with a HANS device and five-point harness. During the Napoleonic Wars, apparently, not only were there no baby gates, but little kids were hurled onto active warships without so much as a bike helmet. By my count, one twelve-year-old on board the movie witnessed or endured the following over a two-hour period:

  • one suicide
  • one arm amputation
  • the death of a fellow twelve-year old
  • two major naval battles
  • many shanties
  • one whipping
  • the scrupulous documentation of various beetles
Daily therapy, for serious.

I do not understand the great Oscaring of this movie. Russel Crowe fails to punch anybody until there's about ten minutes left (most disappointing), and that's even before the plot gets there. The plot shows up with maybe thirty seconds to go, at which point the film immediately ends. Up until then, it's all rowing and map-staring and drawing pictures of lizards. Oh, and the shanties. It's kind of a shame we don't break out in the occasional shanty anymore, you know?

also, everybody says "seaman" a lot at:


Starnarcosis said...

Makes you feel a bit differently about all those dashing naval heroes in Jane Austen novels now, doesn't it?

'Til 2012 said...

MB, you're missing the point. M&C was like the manliest movie Hollywood's made in years. No "I/you" statements, plenty of manly bonding, and they even manage to fight the French. I think there was a woman on screen for maybe 5 seconds, and before she can get off a "look, sir, droids," Crowe shoos her off. Heck, the boat is even steered (store? what is the past tense of steer?) by one of those "MerryPippin" guys from LotR.

It's a thinking man's guy movie. Good especially on those Saturday evenings when you've already caught _Rocky IV_ on Cable in the afternoon. Plus they also say, "Leftenant" a bunch.

Cbell said...

You know, I tried to watch that movie once. I really did. I think I made it through 45 minutes before I returned the rental to Blockbuster.

Mike Marchand said...

As a general rule, I tend to avoid movies with an unnecessary colon in the title. It allowed me to dodge the steaming crapfest Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, for instance. I'd been afraid that this rule might have cost me a decent movie in Master & Commander: The Far Side Of The World, but now I know I didn't miss much.

I have MB to thank, obviously, but also 'til 2012, who's helpfully let me know there are no wenches on this ship. My kind of "guy movie" involves lots of women.

Red Pill Junkie said...

I like that movie, because of the character of Paul Bettany; it made me think of that special time of discoveries where Darwinism was a gentleman's hobby. I also like the fact that both Crowe and Bettany got to work again as friends, although now Crowe could adress Bettany openly without the ship's crew thinking their skipper had gone insane ;-)

But that scene of the little boy not crying when they cut off his arm! I guess it was the director's way of telling the male audience "We're all a bunch of sissies compared to THESE men".

MEP said...

I'm with red pill junkie . . . the movie is not my favorite by any means but I love Paul Bettany and love the friendship his character has with the captain.

Paul Bettany is a beautiful man.

Kell Belle said...

I tried to read the M&C series of books(on recommendation of how great they were) before watching the movie. I made it to chapter 3 of the first book. They very detailed and technical. Very. Like I needed to actually be a sailor on that ship to know what was going on. Far Side of the World was, I believe, book 3. After trying to read the book and not getting very far, I tried to watch the movie, figuring Hollywood could make it exciting. I made it about 45 minutes.

Perhaps, I am just not a British Navy girl but I can't imagine sitting through the whole thing and being entertained. Definately not my up of tea. But I can always say, I tried.

I still feel bad when I walk by the books in the library, I know they have won awards and are supposed to be great but....I tried, I really did and I just can't get interested.

I do agree that Paul Bettany is wonderful, but not wonderful enough to make me sit through the whole thing.


Amy said...

"M&C" was my first movie date with my then-boyfriend, now-husband.

I thought it was really good. I thought Crowe was good (he totally learned to play the violin just for his role). I thought Paul Bettany was fantastic.

But your review made me laugh.

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