The Most Underrated War Epic of the 2000s is Now on Prime

The Most Underrated War Epic of the 2000s is Now on Prime
Image credit: Legion-Media

The streaming service's library has been updated with an excellent period drama starring Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany.


  • In 2003, the period drama Master and Commander starring Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany was released.
  • At the time of its release, the movie was highly praised by critics, but it was underrated at the box office.
  • Now, many people have rediscovered this epic film and it is available on Prime.

Whether it was the fantasy franchise Pirates of the Caribbean in the '00s, the adventure series Black Sails in the '10s, or the revisionist satire Our Flag Means Death in the '20s, the media has always been obsessed with nautical fiction. It's not surprising, as these stories offer incredibly high-octane adventures.

Hoist the sails, fellow mariners! Today we're going to talk about another '00s movie, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Even by today's standards, it remains one of the greatest nautical tales ever told and has earned a cult following, especially with its recent rediscovery. All the more reason to watch it in 2023, particularly since Master and Commander is now available on Amazon Prime Video.

Epic Drama Now Available on Prime

After reading Patrick O'Brian's historical novels, 20th Century Fox chief executive Tom Rothman had the idea to adapt the story of naval adventure and friendship between the brilliant, if not perfect, Captain Jack Aubrey and the surgeon and naturalist Dr. Stephen Maturin aboard the frigate HMS Surprise.

The film was directed by the talented Australian filmmaker Peter Weir, who you may know from such masterpieces as Witness, Dead Poets Society, and The Truman Show. He also co-wrote the movie with John Collee, giving us one of the best period dramas of the '00s.

The film follows two friends, Aubrey and Maturin, played by the legendary Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany respectively, during the Napoleonic Wars in 1805. In the story, HMS Surprise was tasked with pursuing the French privateer Acheron, which led to the Surprise's multiple losses and the unconventional approaches Aubrey and Maturin took to defeat the enemy. Although events take place in the maritime environment of South America, Master and Commander is primarily set aboard the frigate, providing an excellent chamber setting with a strong emphasis on the relationships between crew members.

Some Figures

The film was incredibly ambitious, with a budget of $150 million, higher than such 2003 hits as X2, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Lord of the Rings. However, the project's ambition was out of proportion to its audience appeal: fantasy and sci-fi blockbusters were far more commercially successful than a movie based on accurate historical depictions and inspired by the relatively obscure novels of O'Brian. As a result, the film failed to live up to the hype upon its release and barely broke even at the box office, grossing $211.6 million worldwide.

In the eyes of the critics, however, only LOTR was more deserving: at the 76th Academy Awards, The Return of the King received 11 nominations and Master and Commander 10, winning Best Sound Editing and Best Cinematography thanks to the talented Richard King and Russell Boyd.

What Are Audiences Saying About the Movie?

As we said, at the time of the film's release, ordinary viewers were far more fascinated by other epic stories. Nevertheless, exactly 20 years later (the movie was released on November 14, 2003), audiences are praising the movie in retrospect.

Firstly, it is a prime example of non-toxic masculinity, with Aubrey and Maturin not shying away from their warm friendship and building a close bond and sense of camaraderie with the crew. Secondly, the film is notable for being shot in a more traditional manner, not relying on CGI, but still providing great visuals.

Overall, the movie now has a score of 85% from critics and 80% from viewers on Rotten Tomatoes, which is impressive.

So, sailors and buccaneers, waste no time and sail the seas of Prime Video for one of the best movies of the 00s!