Tag Archives: The Three Musketeers

The 2011 Minnie Movie Awards

Inspired by Geek Soul Brother’s splendid Mulder awards, and because Gold Globes and Naked Fellows are so last century, I take no small delight in presenting the inaugural Fluffrick 2011 Minnie Awards – the virtual awards ceremony which celebrates great nerdy things and the sleepy terriers who tolerate them (as long as they’re not too loud).

 

The Filmic Pup Who Know's What's Up - Minnie

 

Without further ado, the Minnie for Best Science Fiction Film of 2011 goes to…

Any film which gets me out of the house and headed towards a multiplex cinema nowadays is deserving of some kind of award.  Any film which has me thinking about its implications long after leaving the cinema is clearly doing something right.   Any film that has you scouring IMDB and the trades to see what all concerned are doing next is one that’s more than worth a view if you haven’t seen it already.

Runners up in this category were:

Coping with the twin demands of launching a franchise and establishing more continuity for this summer’s “Avengers” extravaganza, Kenneth Branagh had more than enough on his plate with “Thor”.  That he delivered an entertaining movie which delivered laughs, action and some quite excellent performances (Idris Elba – represent!) indicates that Branagh is a film maker to call if you want your widescreen spectacle balanced with character comedy.

and

Yes, the latest Paul Anderson movie is the polar opposite of the movie at number one.  It’s dumb, noisy and historically so bizarre as to constitute some kind of public call for better teaching of the subject in our schools.  All those issues aside, this latest adaptation of “The Three Musketeers” was quasi-Steampunk mentalism of the highest order.  Worth it just for Orlando Bloom channelling Adam Ant and confirming that sneering villainy is something that he’s really rather suited for.

Every great (or middling) film must be counterbalanced by one which isn’t so enduring.  A film which saddens and irritates in equal measure.  To wit, the next award is the Most Disappointing Movie of 2011.

As the second movie was a shrill, misogynistic, racist and overwhelmingly brain-dead effort, this third sequel didn’t have a lot to live up to.  Being in focus and not giving you a migraine might have been considered a major result,  but this film managed to make massive destruction, rocking-socking robots and jaw-loosening spectacle somehow unforgivably dull:   If a skyscraper falls in Chicago, and you’re busy checking your smartphone because the stuff on-screen is so overblown that you don’t care if anybody lives or dies, does anyone hear it?

Perhaps we were spoiled in 2010 by Christopher Nolan’s “Inception”, which balanced the demands of action cinema and arthouse style and showed us that mainstream summer movies can be pump up the adrenaline and intellect alike?  Perhaps the impressive 3D tech could have been used for a purpose other than ogling Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s admittedly compelling posterior? Perhaps we realised, at long last, that Shia LaBeouf really isn’t much of a star and why were we watching him again?

For whatever reason, the third “Transformers” movie arrived in the summer, did the predicted, gang-busting business worldwide and barely troubled the memory for longer than it took to say “Was Alan Tudyk really in this film?”  Some more questions. Why did they end up in Chicago?  Who was double-crossing whom?  Did Huntington-Whiteley really outwit a robot by appealing to its mechanoid vanity?  Is it possible to make a movie which mostly erases itself from your memory almost immediately after viewing it?  Because I believe that this franchise may well have pulled it off.

Runners up?

Ah, DC’s much-vaunted “Green Lantern”.  With a galaxy-spanning police force composed of imaginative alien creatures, gigantic cosmic phenomena/villains and decades of comics continuity to draw from, how did this film’s creative talents decide that what we really wanted to see was a piss-taking Ryan Reynolds leering at anodyne anon-o-blonde Blake Lively and a resolutely Earth-bound story.  Such a missed opportunity.  There’s talk of a sequel, but unless it’s a ground-up reinvention, does anybody really want to see it other than DC Entertainment’s accountants?

and

“Season of the Witch” wasn’t scary enough for horror fans, wasted Ron Perlman and Robert Sheehan in nothing roles and was so tired, predictable and half-hearted that I expected it to peter out rather than actually finish.  I know that we’ve come to expect comparatively little of Nicolas Cage in films these days, but “Season of the Witch” so completely drops the ball and wimps out in its final act (Hey! All the stupid, evil creatures are actually real and it’s not just man’s inhumanity and irrationality which is causing all the horrible stuff to happen to people!) that it becomes an ordeal to watch.

For shame, Dominic Sena, for shame!

A final Minnie category for now?

Most Disappointing Movie Development of 2011.

Whether you want it or not, whether it works or not, and ensuring that you have to see a movie in the format because there’s never a 2D screening when you want to see it.  The good uses are few and far between and the bad ones are seemingly stinking up a multiplex near you every weekend.

It’s here to stay, because there’s a lot of money invested in it, but it’s not my first choice for entertainment and I doubt that it’s many of yours either.

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A geeky round-up (because I’m ill)…

The dreaded lurgyMan-flu.  An outbreak of contagious yuck – call it what you will, I’m afflicted by it.  If I were you, I’d wear an anti-germ mask and disinfect yourself thoroughly before reading this post.

Mr Germ, yesterday.

Accordingly, my brain is working on about 40% effectiveness and I think it best for all concerned if I point in the direction of a few points of interest on the internet, before you catch something from me via Teh Interwebz.

An interesting round-up of a recent Femme-friendly Sci-Fi event, GirlGeekCon in Seattle, from those nice folks at the Tor Books blog.

 

Super Punch have an unboxing video for the collector’s edition of “Star Wars: The Old Republic”.

Milla Jovovich isn’t very happy about the US marketing campaign for “The Three Musketeers”…, via I Watch Stuff.

Ben Affleck may be directing the long-awaited adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Stand”, per Rope of Silicon.

Some reviews of  the “Captain America: The First Avenger” blu-ray disc at Blu-Ray.com and Crave Online.  I loved it – possibly a little more than I enjoyed “Thor” – and can’t wait to see it in glorious HD in December when it releases in the UK.

A sneaky clip from the “Ghost Rider” sequel is currently available over at ShockTillYouDrop – from last week’s Spike TV Scream awards ceremony.

Finally, Deadline.com reports that “Paranormal Activity 3” opened in the US this weekend to $55 million, making it the highest-debuting box office result ever for a horror movie.  I haven’t seen the first one, I stopped watching “Saw” movies after the first one and have seen two minutes of “Hostel”.  I freely confess that the last decade in horror cinema has completely passed me by.

 

 

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Why “The Three Musketeers” isn’t as bad as you probably think it is.

Yes, it’s another apology post for Paul W.S. Anderson‘s career – feel free to tune out if you think of him as only slightly less reviled than Uwe Boll and only marginally less hateful to cinephiles than Michael Bay.

See, he looks really nice - how bad could he be? Photo by Albert Ortega.

If I’m writing one of these posts, that must mean that he has a new film out, yes?  Indeed, and it isn’t a new “Resident Evil” installment – this year’s chip off the Anderson block is “The Three Musketeers”, an adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas novel which takes a remarkable number of liberties with the source material – a more accurate title might be “Jules Verne’s Steampunk Remix – The Three Musketeers” as the film gleefully dispenses with any real sense of historical veracity as soon as it can.

I half expected D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) to rock up in Paris in a Hybrid SUV and arrange his initial duel with the disgraced Athos (Matthew McFadyen), Aramis (Luke Evans) and Porthos (Ray Stevenson) via Blackberry Messenger.  In terms of blithely gleeful anachronism, such absurdity would have fitted nicely with D’Artagnan’s Californian accent and shaggy, classic rock tresses.

Two Musketeers, One D'Artagnan and the back of Porthos' head

This is churlish, of course.  Anderson is making a popcorn, multiplex-pleasing adventure romp and any resemblance to historical time periods, events or people would be wholly accidental.

Witness the awesome:

I flippin' love Paul Anderson. Fanboys whine, he gets on with it and goes home to Milla J - Like a boss...

Yes, that just happened. In this movie and all up in your face.  If you go to see this film you should expect duelling airships.  This is where the steampunk or Verne-ian angle comes in – whenever the script finds a problem to resolve, it does so not with the expected horses, swashbuckling or period technology.  Oh no.  We get airships, all manner of automated cannons and elaborate, multi-barrelled pistols, costumes which look like they’ve just been borrowed from Lady Gaga’s dressing room and Da Vinci-inspired security systems which perhaps pay homage to the lethal Umbrella Corporation from Anderson’s previous “Resi” films.

There’s fighting, duelling, honour, guff about France, Cardinal Richelieu and the intrigue in the Royal Court to satisfy Dumas’ fans but suffice is to say that if you value the novel at all, you probably shouldn’t go to see this film – it uses the books as a jumping-off point and the plot sweeps ahead with little if any regard for 17th Century veracity. Even the dialogue, manners and characterisation seem to be drawn very much from our time, not always to bad effect.

As Anderson and his wife Milla Jovovich are involved in this iteration of Dumas story, the role of Milady is invested with rather more action than we are perhaps used to seeing.   Think “Mission: Impossible”-style incursions, abseiling, multi-dude sword take-downs and a distinct sense that Milady could quite happily and easily kick the bejesus out of most of the Musketeers if only (A) she could be bothered to and (B) it wouldn’t mess up her frocks.

No Zombies for Milla this time, but plenty of faceless Royal Guards in need of a shoeing...

I was particularly taken with one Anderson composition in the film – it’s in the scene where (spoilers) Milady is breaking into the French Queen’s dressing room to steal her diamond necklace (spoilers end) and is posed elegantly atop a tower before abseiling from a great height.  I feel sure that it must reference a painting of the period and is the kind of iconic, stylish moment of diversion which I sometimes feel that Anderson might want to interject into his work.  He’s got the eye and works with great directors of photography – I can’t quite get behind the notion that he’s a hack without talent, as he’s displayed his visual acuity in his previous films.  Serving the story and getting out-of-the-way of the movie is one thing – giving ammunition to the more blinkered critics is quite another.

You probably know after watching the trailer whether this is your thing or not – I really enjoyed it (and the blatant set-up for a sequel which follows the initial credit title card seems like it would get rid of much of the problem inherent in adapting a classic by being bat-shizz insane from the get-go).

The acting’s serviceable (although Christophe Waltz and Mads Mikkelsen as the bad guys are gloriously nasty buggers) and the script is frequently guilty of not knowing whether to fully embrace anachronism or make a late-in-the-game effort at authenticity.  The technical credits are excellent – photography, visual effects and sound mixing are top-notch.  I was quite fond, too, of the transitions between scenes – we follow a map between locations a-la forties cinema and Anderson’s found a way to do this in 3D, which I found really nifty and which also recalled Richelieu’s oversized war game pieces in his office.  It’s like the people who make films think about stuff like this – remarkable!

I would like to talk a little about what Anderson did with the 3D in this new adaptation, as he was using the Cameron/Pace camera system to shoot with – but, unfortunately, I can’t.  Although I paid for a ticket to the 3D screening of the film – I’ve made a point of only going to see 3D films shot ‘natively’ with proper hardware and composition, not the post-converted Marvel flicks – my branch of Cineworld didn’t programme their projection set-up correctly this morning and I ended up seeing a pristine, digitally projected presentation without any 3D lens in the projection chain.

This wouldn’t be a problem but for the fact that any cinema-goer seeing a 3D movie pays a price hike for the privilege.  I made sure that I got a refund, but it makes me wonder if any less astute film fans have ever found themselves getting a headache at the cinema because the theatre hasn’t properly projected the film in the first place?

The verdict? Not a classic, but a whole heap of silly, dressed-up, swash-buckling, steam-punk fun.

 

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