I came to this movie with maybe a different perspective than a lot of people.
#1, like many, I'm a tremendous fan of the books, which I am still reading. I made an effort to read The Far Side of the World before seeing this movie, and so many of the people and some (but far from all) of the events were familiar.
#2, I am *not* familiar with Russell Crowe. That is, I've heard of him, and I've seen his face, but I just happen to not have seen any of his movies until now. So, the very sexy man I saw on the screen was Jack Aubrey and no one else. (Yeah, I know Crowe's a bastard in Real Life. I just don't care.)
I assume that most people are familiar with Russell Crowe's work and are less familiar with the books.
So. The movie is, from a rather nitpicky bookfan's perspective, excellent. It is not faithful to the books - it's ten years too early and they were chasing an American around the Horn, not a Frenchman, and Holom's fate was murder, not suicide, (a love triangle - there were wives on board), although he *was* a Jonah, and while the various midshipmen lost hair or teeth or toes (scurvy and frostbite), none lost a hand. But, you know.
None of that mattered *at all*. I got myself in a *fanfic* mood, where what mattered was not the plot, but the characters, and the characters were, well. In character. They did what and said what the characters would do and say. Jack was *Jack* - loving, loyal to his King, his crew and his friends, a rake devoted to his wife, big and strong and capable of killing and of making impossible decisions, and equally capable of mourning the results of those decisions. A man who hates the lash, but will use it if he must, who nurtures the boys aboard his ship in lieu of the son he never sees. A dedicated musician, and a mangler of platitudes and a teller of bad jokes badly. A fully rounded and complex man as open as a book, who doesn't know how to be devious.
Yeah, I love Jack.
I also love Stephen, who will take off a hand to save a life, but doesn't do it for glory. Who sails with a fighting vessel and knows what that means, but hates that it does fight, and the patching up he must do. He's a spy, who carries secrets the way others do loveletters. He dresses badly himself - he doesn't care what he looks like - but he is generous to those he loves. He often spies for favors for Jack - a ship, a lawyer, a means of getting the prize money he's earned. Also a musician, who doesn't realize Jack plays down to his level.
It's their relationship that drives the books and the movie - the love behind their disagreements. The books are *not* slashy, as it happens. O'Brien has gay characters - often they're presented as unhappy because they deny this - but he also has off-hand remarks about both men's celibacy at sea.
The movie, on the other hand. Wow. They interact like a long married couple when they aren't fighting; when they are, there palpable pain in their apartness. When they play music together, it's almost like sex, and during one harrowing scene, when Stephen was operating on himself, it shone so strongly I wanted to cry for it. Stephen was holding on to Jack's hand as a source of strength and stability, and Jack was barely keeping himself together. And Stephen, in pain and shock, asked how *Jack* was doing,and...
In other points - the sea battles were exciting but bloody and awful, and the ships themselves - beautiful, beautiful ships. Beautiful, beautiful men, too. And there was humor and kindness and pain and death and I loved it all.