Tag: movies

The Three Musketeers


Hum, OK. Mostly I went to see this movie because friends dragged me, because it would normally be pretty low on my list of things to watch. I have to say, before we get into the snark, that the spirit of it (the ridiculous caper, casual adaptation of history to suit the plot and general sense of fun) would actually have pleased Dumas quite a bit, I think. Also, I didn’t expect to quite like Matthew Macfadyen quite that much in the role of Athos (way better than Kiefer Sutherland in the Disney 1993 version).

Now that the good is out of the way…

Well, it would have been nice if the movie hadn’t quite been so ridiculous, or quite so predictable–or, indeed, quite so creative with, you know, actual French history and geography? I don’t know where the French court is supposed to be, and clearly the movie is in a state of terminal hesitation as to whether it should be the Louvre or Versailles (the placement with regards to Paris sort of looks like a badly located Louvre, but the actual shots suggest Versailles). Which is interesting considering that Versailles was a nice hunting lodge in the middle of the woods at the time Louis XIII was on the throne.
Also, about those nice opening shots on dark green hills with huge, twisted trees that have seen many winters? All I have to say is: Gascony. As in, south of France. Sun-drenched, mild winters, wonderful light, all that is patently missing from said shots. (I think this was shot in Bavaria, and boy, does it show).
And finally, I do want to point out that “musketeers” means one definite thing that the scriptwriters chose to completely ignore: a “musketeer” is a guy with a musket. Someone who used the very first (and admittedly unreliable) firearms of French warfare. You do NOT get to present musketeers as some kind of nostalgic uber-swordsmen set aside by the march of progress. They’re not that. They were never that, and the original novel is indeed pretty clear on the fact that musketeers are called to the war front at La Rochelle, and that they must have their equipment, which includes the firearms.

Other than that… The movie was full of the usual Hollywood conceits that realism should be thrown out the window in the service of good storytelling (whatever that means): I’m sorry, but you cannot swim in the canals of Venice, and then fire crossbows in the minute that follows (your weapon mechanism is probably completely clogged by then). You do not plummet from admidst cloud-cover height into the sea and survive: at this altitude, the sea is going to hit you like a concrete block. For that matter, you do not swim in full court clothes (which would have included very cumbersome underwear in addition to all the frills).
I’ll skip over the usual casting of the Cardinal as the villain plotting to take over France, all the skimpy fan-service that the script parades in the person of Milady, because it’s only predictable from that kind of movie (if really sad); but I’ll admit some final puzzlement as to what the heck all the maps and little figurines were doing in the movie? They were grossly inaccurate in most cases (bonus points especially for the “presentation” of the European politics just after the title roll, which wins a prize for getting absolutely nothing right of the 1625-1633 geopolitics), and they made the movie look like it was made by a really clueless Warhammer adddict.

But that’s not the worst thing. No, the worst thing is the last five minutes or so of the movie, which promise a sequel.

Excuse me while I go tear my hair out, and start a search of a decent movie adaptation of the novel… (any recs welcome, btw. I could use good movies)

DVDs bought


Bandits, ’cause it was fun and I could always use a rewatch
Ladyhawke: it looks kind of cheesy, but I’ll admit I can’t resist Rutger Hauer as the good guy (for a change)

Also added to my wishlist: The Scent of Green Papaya, and possibly the Vertical Ray of the Sun. Yup, want to try out some Vietnamese movies. But first, I have a pile of stuff to watch…

Inception quick notes


So, the H and I finally got to see Inception.

OK, so I can see what the fuss is all about. It’s a neat idea, and a great cast to assemble around it (props for Watanabe, whom I love, and Cillian Murphy who for once wasn’t stuck playing a psycho). And the movie tries so hard to be clever and to go beyond the ol’ Hollywood action thriller.

But but but…

It makes no sense.

Or, rather, to be more accurate: it sets up rules in its first half or so that it then spends most of the time ignoring.

For instance: a “kick” is supposed to wake up whoever is in a dream, as long as they’re not nestled in a deeper dream. So why did the very first “kick” (the van going over the bridge, which is explicitly referred to as a kick by Cobb) fail to wake up Arthur, who wasn’t under at the time?

Why does Fischer Junior not recognise Saito? Again, it’s clear that you can remember real life during the dreams, and yet Fischer Junior (the man who has been coached to take control of his father’s empire) doesn’t recognise the competitor who is their main target?

Why does no one (Arthur or Yussuf) bother to shape the dreams they’re in more strongly? The reason that was invoked at the start is that if you make too many modifications, projections will converge on you to kill you. Er… How is that different from what is happening in those dreams? (especially Arthur, who already has the entire hotel after him).

Or how about totems–they’re brought up, and then seem to serve no purpose, other than presage the “shocking” ending.

About that ending. For me, it’s pretty clear that Cobb is still dreaming. It’s strongly implied he’s been on the run from the police for a number of years, and yet his children have not aged a day when he does come back–worse, they’re in the exact same position they have been in flashbacks during the entire movie.

Unfortunately, I was too busy going “uh?” at the movie during the last half-hour or so that the “cleverness” of the ending entirely bypassed me…

The movie had so many great parts, but in the end, it didn’t gel for me. I kept expecting there would be some kind of a better twist there (in particular, Fischer Junior felt way too naïve for who he was supposed to be, and I kept expecting he’d turn the tables on the team. But no, he was exactly as foolish as he appeared all along), but honestly, I could see what twists there were coming a mile off.

Sigh. I might be becoming too jaded for this.

Judge Dee movie, or love at first sight


Via Lavie Tidhar and the World SF blog:
Tsui Hark has directed a movie about Judge Dee/Detective Dee, called Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame. And here’s the trailer:

Isn’t it awesome? Sadly, it looks the movie never got a French release, but thank God for amazon.co.uk… Preordered my DVD today.
(I should perhaps explain that my love for all things of Ancient China started with Van Gulik’s Judge Dee stories–hence the squee)

ETA: actually, it’s getting a French release–in 10 days. *squee*

Is it just me…


…or do all Hollywood trailers look the same? I’ve just watched the ones for the new Narnia and the new Pirates of the Carribbean, and was bored about halfway through.
(only positive point in Pirates looks to be the return of Geoffrey Rush, whom I’ve always loved. I hope they don’t bungle his part).

The vanishing act


Well, I’m pretty sure I had a weekend, except it seems to have disappeared…

Aside from wedding stuff, we went to see Wild Target, a dark comedy about an ageing hitman who finds himself dealing with a young, awkward apprentice, and a con artist/kleptomaniac, both of whom he has to protect from the goons sent after them. Hilarious, well worth several watches (interestingly, learnt afterwards it was a remake of a French farce, Cible Emouvante. Might track the original down…).

Did one blog post for a guest blog, and am still working on another one. Also decided I’d had enough of not doing any actual writing (I did revisions and synopses, but I miss my first drafts), and started thinking on a new story, aka “Chinese dynasty on space station”.

Movie watching


(somewhat spoilerish)

So… attempted to watch Twilight yesterday with the BF, in English without subtitles. Gave it up after it became clear the BF was not following the English but could predict how it was all going nevertheless (a particularly hilarious remark was “are you sure Bella’s not a vampire already? I mean, pale skin, Gothic makeup, those kind of all add up, don’t they?” I had to explain the Twilight theory to him, which made him roll his eyes).

Settled instead for The Thirteenth Floor, a movie about guys who run a simulation of the real world and make an extraordinary discovery. Divergent opinions on this one. The BF liked it; I wasn’t so keen. I was ahead of the major plot points by 20-30 minutes. And I’m not prone to rewriting stuff ordinarily, but I thought my first hypothesis about the nature of the world was much more fun than what the movie turned out to be about: the Russian doll’s game of a simulation within a simulation wasn’t nearly as interesting as my theory that the simulation was bleeding into the real world and making everyone act crazy. The “oh, we all live in a simulation ourselves” was… lacking subtlety, I guess?

Still–way better than Twilight (yes, I know. Not hard).



Ok, I’m temporarily leaving this as it is–it’s readable and reasonably clean, and I have a novel to get back to 🙂
BF and I went to see “Three Kingdoms” this weekend: John Woo’s retelling of the Battle of Red Cliffs. Basically, peplum made in China, with a pretty good cast, awesome visuals and a storyline that, if not original, does turn out to be fairly gripping.

My only gripe was being unable to follow everyone’s names (I had totally forgotten who Liu Bei was by the end of the movie, which is kind of ironic when he’s supposed to be one of the main characters of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, the events on which the movie is based): for a Westerner, it’s not so easy to tell apart about a dozen Chinese people apart–all introduced at the start of the movie, all sporting more-or-less identical haircuts and having more-or-less the same bearded countenance. We later discovered that we’d only seen the abridged version: the full movie is a two-parter of 4 hours instead of the 2.5 we were shown. I’d be really interested to track down the full (Asian) version and see how it holds up. Maybe those extra characters do stick in the mind with double the screentime available.

Oh, also, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, who plays Sun Quan’s general Zhou Yu, one of the two main characters in the movie, is fast becoming one of our favorite actors (he also played in Hero and Lust, Caution, both times to great effect).