Movie column 

Crowe returns in another epic war film

With Remembrance Day behind us, it’s about time to jump into a serious epic war movie. This week's offering is Master and Commander: The Far Side of The World.

Set in the Napoleanic war (that's around 1805) this $100 million-plus seafaring epic stars Russel Crowe as captain of an English warship sent out to slaughter, burn, sink or steal as many French ships as possible. Crowe's frigate gets surprised and spanked in the beginning by a bigger, more bad-ass French ship and he spends the rest of the film playing cat and mouse, dancing the line between rationality and revenge-fueled bloodlust.

Australian director Peter Wier (Gallipoli, The Truman show) displays an incredible attention to detail that allows us an in-depth look at life on the high seas and what it’s like to have a cannon ball rip someone to pieces.

The action scenes, massive ship-to-ship battles or death-defying fights with the perfect storms of Cape Horn, are all superbly shot and exciting but the movie doesn't offer much in the way of deep characters or any real personal drama.

The media hype for Master and Commander is calling it an Oscar contender, hoping to clean up the way Crowe did with Gladiator, and it might. But this two and half hour epic is just a good adventure, not the dramatic masterpiece it wants to be. Don’t hold your breath.

I'm all about backing Canadian actors, and although Brendan Fraser was born in the States and lived all over the world (his father, a Canadian government employee, was always on the move), I consider him a Canadian actor.

I don’t, however, consider him a good Canadian actor. His movies generally suck: Blast from the Past, Monkey Bone, George of the Jungle, Dudley Do Right. The only movies he was tolerable in are Encino Man (which really wasn't that good) and Bedazzled (watchable, thanks to incredibly talented Elizabeth Hurley).

This week, for good or ill, we get another dose of Fraser in Looney Tunes: Back In Action. The movie puts classic Warner Brothers’ characters in a real world setting, kind of like that shameless Nike ad campaign movie Space Jam. This time it’s a little better though, featuring a story where Daffy Duck snaps (surprise) and gets fired. Fraser is supposed to escort him off the lot, but they end up on an adventure that takes them to Las Vegas and the surrounding desert searching for a mysterious diamond and trying to save Fraser's father from the evil Mr. Chairman of Acme Inc. All the regular Warner cartoon characters make appearances, and Bugs Bunny saves the day of course.

It's a kids’ movie, filled with lots of filmic references in an attempt to keep adults entertained. Pretty stuff but not that bad if you liked those characters as a child.

Or you can check out Meg Ryan naked in the raw, explicit, Jane Campion movie In the Cut. Not for kids but probably the best movie out this week.

At Village 8 Nov. 14-20

Brother Bear, Kill Bill, Elf, In the Cut, Scary Movie 3, Mystic River, Matrix-Revolutions, Master & Commander, Looney Tunes: Back in Action

At Rainbow Theatre Nov. 14-20

Underworld, Under the Tuscan Sun

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