||Based on a series of books by Patrick O'Brian, and directed by Peter Weir, MASTER AND COMMANDER plunges viewers deep into the story of a British Navy ship at sea during the Napoleonic war. Russell Crowe stars as Aubrey, the charismatic captain who wrestles with issues like honor, pride, duty, sacrifice and loyalty while using ingenious tactics to engage his prey--a much larger and better-equipped French Man o' War. Paul Bettany plays his friend, the ship's doctor, who cautions Aubrey about letting revenge cloud his judgment after the French Man o' War almost sinks them in an early battle. Before the incredibly intense final skirmish the men battle a raging storm, launch an excursion to the Galapagos Islands, find time for grog-enhanced merriment, and endure some primitive surgery. Weir fills the film with a rich wealth of period detail, convincing dialogue, and the same haunting, dreamlike mood that has informed his best films, such as PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK, THE LAST WAVE and THE TRUMAN SHOW. The wealth of sounds and sights on display are so evocative one can practically smell the salt air and feel the heave of the ocean. Russell is intense and inspiring as Aubrey, and Bettany proves a worthy match. MASTER AND COMMANDER is another triumph for Weir, and further evidence of his ability to fuse poetic realism with rousing entertainment.