Master And Commander
(20th Cent. Fox/Miramax/Universal , 2003)
With an epic $150M budget, it took three studios to foot the bill to bring Peter Weir's breathtaking film, based on the Aubrey/Maturin books of Patrick O'Brian, to the screen with Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany in the leads. The result is breathtaking and realistic. Other than a brief view of a tribal maiden or two off South America, not a single other woman appeared in the entire movie for the balance of two-plus hours; this is the antithesis of the three-hanky chick-flick. It sets the new standard for sailing ship movies; the cast trained hard and long aboard ship extensively prior to filming, and it shows in every frame. This movie was nominated for 10 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, and had it not had the misfortune to premiere in the same year as the final installment of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, it would undoubtedly have gotten away with far more than the two it earned for Best Cinematography and Best Sound Editing. It more than recouped investments, but not by enough to guarantee a sequel. More's the pity that when Hollywood creates a cinematic masterwork, no one wants to do another one; but if they produce something better left in a cat's litter box, they make a dozen more.