Covering a popular blockbuster in a space I usually reserve for the neglected and obscure is a little like filling an issue of Dungeon Master's Quarterly with discussions about how underrated World of Warcraft or Modern Warfare 2 are.
It's not the right venue, and those games don't exactly need more attention.
But in these days of endless sequels, remakes and adaptations, there's one potential franchise that deserves another look.
For Hollywood consideration: follow up on 2003's Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.
For further consideration: give me a 5 percent finder's fee.
British captain Russell Crowe has orders to bring down the frigate that could cement Napoleon's dominance in the Pacific. His first encounter with the enemy proves he's outgunned, outclassed, and possibly outwitted. He should turn back. Instead, he presses on, engaging in a weekslong game of cat and mouse with his brilliant opponent.
Judging by the detail in the ship, consumes, ship, and activities of the crew, director/co-writer Peter Weir is actually a vampire who served in 19th century navies himself and cashed in big 200 years later with a perfect reconstruction of what it was like.
If, like so many of us in this economy, you're a struggling vampire living paycheck to paycheck, you might want to follow his lead.
The characters of Master and Commander are constantly doing technical things I don't understand, whether it's hammering canvas into cracks, measuring speed with ropes, or being good at their jobs. Yet this immersive detail never interferes with Weir's ability to keep the stakes clear.
It also gives him a lot of small but real problems to deal with on the way to the big one. That's a plus, because when two ships are trying to destroy each other, they can really only do it once.
As the talented semi-ensemble cast preps the ship to reduce the enemy to a spray of blood-soaked splinters, Crowe and ship doctor Paul Bettany have a believable and interesting friendship tested by Crowe's devotion to his duty. It provides a heart to a movie that can't have a woman onboard without risking the howling wrath of the superstitious sea gods, who apparently think humanity should be reproducing through binary fission.
This leaves Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World as a rip-roaring yarn with the brains to match its swordfighting, adolescent amputation, and whanging cannonballs.
I know it's well-liked, but for one of the better action movies of the last decade, it feels strangely forgotten.
I hereby hoist a mug of grog in its honor.
* Contact Ed Robertson at firstname.lastname@example.org