The Patrick O'Brian novels about seafaring adventurer Jack Aubrey have amassed so many admirers and enthusiasts in the last 40 years, its fan base could almost easily match J.R.R. Tolkien's in both size and dedication. Small wonder, then, that the stories, rather conveniently, are finding their way onto the big screen just as the saga of Middle Earth's treacherous One Ring is drawing to a close. Could it be that movie audiences have a renewed fascination with ambitious and stylized Hollywood epics, a trend that lost significant steam in the mid-1960s? Whatever the answer, there are still reasons why such productions don't flood the market as significantly as they used to—there simply isn't room or need for all of them. "Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World," the first of an inevitable series of screen adaptations of O'Brian's famous stories, is a rather potent reminder that the most ambitious undertakings won't necessarily add much to the crop. It's an irrelevant, lackluster, dry result that does little but reaffirm the notion that the "Rings" trilogy is all the audience needs right now to satisfy those cravings for bid-budgeted Hollywood epics.