Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World Blu-ray Review

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Reviewed by Chris McEneany
There are plenty of people out there who aren’t enamoured by Weir’s adaptation and no amount of praise from the likes of me is going to convince them that his film is a masterpiece. That’s fine, of course. But I will say that a production so elegantly mounted, so wonderfully acted, intelligently directed and so damn evocative that you can taste the salt in the air, feel the winds blowing across the stern and the swell of the sea beneath you can never, never be classed as a bore. Some claim that it is merely a history lesson in disguise. It is a history lesson – but there is certainly no disguise. This history lesson transports you back to an era that is notoriously difficult to evoke on screen with anything approaching credibility, and this conviction and dedication to detail - detail to a degree unparalleled by anything else – conveys something that most movies can never hope to emulate – total viewer immersion.</p>Fox’s long-delayed BD release – at least as far as the US and UK markets were concerned – loses out to the big guns with regards to special features, but slams a broadside into all comers when it comes to superlative audio transfers. Already mightily hailed as technical wonder of acoustic design on SD disc, Master And Commander now rules the seven seas of sound with its utterly majestic DTS-MA 5.1 track. Pure reference quality and a very high water-mark for others to follow. The image, on the other hand, is not the most scintillating available on the format, but – and this is the crucial thing – it is still very good indeed and leaves its SD cousin not quite dead, but barely conscious in the water.

Like the sea, itself, Master And Commander is a thing of rare and unpredictable beauty, ferocity and bewitching tranquillity. It is not an easy voyage, but it is one that definitely worth taking. Despite setting adrift its raft of extras from the previous 2-discer, this release comes very highly recommended. Masterful filmmaking and a commanding achievement. For fans, this is absolutely essential.
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