Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World premiered on DVD today in a single disc and double disc editions. The double disc is the way to go, with one disc devoted to the film, the other to presenting how it was adapted and filmed and exquisite packaging, including a fold-out map and a color booklet and period artwork. The film is certainly worth the attention, as it is masterful storytelling with great acting and an attention to historical detail (down to the more unpleasant aspects of seafaring life) that somehow manages to capture the feel of a genuine ship of war of the era.
Best Buy also has an exclusive bonus third disc, but if you miss that packaging, it is not really worth the effort. It has the trailer (which looks and sounds better on the actual set) a short EPK featurette and a set of trailers for other films.
The film, like the ship it depicts, is dependant upon its captain, and if anything, Russell Crowe's performance improves on subsequent viewing. He is able to convey the intelligence, the tenacity and the charisma of Jack Aubrey.
I found that film music enthusiasts have, on the whole, disliked this score. Many were expecting something much more traditional, which is understandable given that one of the composers on the show is Christopher Gordon, whose Moby Dick score is one of the best adventure scores of recent vintage. I found that the more modern idiom managed to convey a greater sense of realism.
Any home theater enthusiast will tell you that there are some movies that you just can't wait to get into your personal space to hear how they sound. Master and Commander was one such film, as it utilized its sound design to meld with the images to place the viewer into the story.
The exemplary DTS track has a full 360 degree soundfield, with creaks and swishes all over the place. This is definitely a demonstration disc, with detail, power and separations. Rarely has a motion picture used its sound as well as Master and Commander.
Incidentally, that music playing in the trailer is from Brian Tyler's Children of Dune score.