What are the truly great movies that never got a sequel? One of the films that's been high atop that list is 2003's Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. That is, until now – reports are coming in that the Master and Commander sequel is finally on its way.
Director Peter Weir's Napoleonic War epic is steeped in brine and seafaring tradition, charting the conflict between the HMS Surprise and the French vessel Acheron. Adapted from three tomes in author Patrick O'Brian's book series, the film stars Russell Crowe as the fiery yet highly respected Captain 'Lucky' Jack Aubrey.
Matching Crowe's dynamism beat for beat is Paul Bettany, playing the ship's doctor and resident scientist Stephen Maturin. For a film that's so imposing in ballast and historical detail, it is, centrally, an introspective, amusing and poignant story of two friends overcoming ideological differences.
Bolstered by superb central performances, painstaking attention to detail and Weir's penchant for hypnotic, often surreal tableaux (reminiscent of 1985 classics such as Witness), Master and Commander made waves with the critics but, sadly, not at the box office. The level of the film's expense, shot partially in a massive water tank and partially at sea, was such that the movie needed to storm the box office to break even.
Sadly, it barely made back its costly $150 million budget with takings of $211 million. Given that there are 30 books in O'Brian's series, this proved to be a bitter disappointment. It was, however, nominated for 10 Oscars including Best Picture. But after years of waiting, the patience of fans is about to pay off with news of a prequel film that will focus on the origins of Jack and Stephen's friendship.
Key talent is yet to be confirmed (one would imagine that Crowe and Bettany's parts will have to be recast), although the film has secured the involvement of Patrick Ness. He's the author of the critically acclaimed A Monster Calls (adapted from an idea by the late Siobhan Dowd), itself turned into a moving 2016 fantasy-drama. Ness also adapted his own book Chaos Walking for the big screen, a movie that secured the involvement of Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley.
Excited about the prospect of a new Master and Commander movie? Let us know @Cineworld.