Much ado is made about the gay subtext, but the power of this shipbound film more concerned with character psychology than naval action lies in its depiction of the often unnoticed distinction between law and justice - an almost didactic indictment of the inadequacy of the cold letter of the law when faced against the nuances of human behavior. Among the ensemble cast, Robert Ryan stands out as the sadistic, repressed Master of Arms.
Majestic, dead-serious epic about innate decency and innate treachery in intelligent species. Character interaction betrays not a hint of foolishness - they all survived devastating tragedies and still manage to go on, even if unable to be completely happy or carefree again. A summer blockbuster tinged with melancholy.
A Roland Emmerich production this ain't.