The Musketeer appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, dual-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Overall the film looked pretty good, but it did provide a few concerns at times.
Sharpness generally seemed strong. Occasionally, wide shots appeared somewhat soft, but those instances were rare. For the most part, the picture remained nicely distinct and accurate. Moiré effects and jagged edges caused no issues, but edge enhancement marred the presentation at times. Onscreen text seemed somewhat fuzzy, and halos appeared around characters periodically. The edge enhancement wasn’t excessive, but it did occasionally detract from the image.
Print flaws provided no distinct concerns. During the early sequences - which took place in D’Artagnan’s childhood - the image seemed a little grainy and flickery. However, I believe this occurred for stylistic reasons, as the problems didn’t arise during the adult D’Artagnan sequences. Otherwise, the film looked fresh and clean, with no discernible defects.
Colors varied, but they usually seemed clear and vibrant. Much of The Musketeer featured lighting from fire, and those elements appeared nicely warm and lush. However, some daytime exteriors displayed less solid hues. A few of these looked moderately heavy and runny, though most of the scenes were bright and vivid. Black levels appeared deep and dense, while shadow detail seemed appropriately opaque but not excessively thick; the film’s many low-light sequences were quite well rendered. As a whole, The Musketeer offered a good image, but it wasn’t terrific by modern standards.
In regard to the movie’s soundtracks, similar thoughts occurred. As with many Universal DVDs these days, The Musketeer offered both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 mixes. As with most of these cases, I found the two versions to sound virtually identical. To my ears, the Dolby and DTS tracks provided very comparable audio; neither appeared to boast a distinct advantage over the other.
For the most part, the audio seemed good but unexceptional. During much of the movie, the track displayed a moderately heavy orientation toward the forward channels. Within that spectrum, I heard good stereo imaging for the score as well as a reasonably effective soundstage for the effects. Those elements seemed well placed within the environment, and they moved from channel to channel with solid smoothness.
As for the surrounds, they appeared a little passive at times, at least until we got to the climactic fight at the end. Prior to that point, the rear speakers largely stayed with general reinforcement of effects and score; they did well in that regard, but they seemed somewhat tame for this kind of movie. The action picked up by the end, but even then, I didn’t think the track appeared especially involving or engaging. The soundfield got the job done, but it wasn’t anything particularly special.
Audio quality appeared fairly positive. Speech sounded slightly boxy and flat at times, but for the most part, dialogue was distinct and it always came across as intelligible and free of edginess. Music offered the strongest aspect of the track. The score seemed very bright and dynamic and really added some punch to the package. Effects appeared clean and lacked any distortion, but they suffered from excessive bass. Apparently in an attempt to artificially spice up the action, the sound designers went nuts with the LFE channel; almost every punch, fall, or nose-scratch resulted in a loud thump from the subwoofer. This became very distracting and took away from the movie; it became so ridiculously over-amped that the story - thin as it may be - suffered. In the end, the soundtracks of The Musketeer still were strong enough to earn a “B”, but they left me fairly unimpressed.
The Musketeer includes a surprisingly sparse set of supplements. Two featurettes highlight the package. The Stunts offers a very glossy 160-second piece in which we hear a little from director Peter Hyams as well as actors Tim Roth and Justin Chambers. Essentially, they tell us how cool the movie is and how terrific stunt coordinator Xin-Xin Xiong is, and we watch a lot of film clips. It's a glorified trailer and nothing more.
Similarly, the second featurette also includes virtually no real information. Casting Justin Chambers very briefly tells us how the actor got the job, but mostly Hyams and Chambers just gush about the movie. More film snippets ensue in this 110-second glorler. Yawn!
A few small pieces round out the package. We get the movie's theatrical trailer as well as some short and mediocre text production notes. In Cast and Filmmakers, we discover perfunctory biographies of director Hyams as well as actors Catherine Deneuve, Mena Suvari, Steven Rea, Roth and Chambers. Though the packaging states that the disc includes DVD-ROM features, all we find are Weblinks for Universal Home Video, Universal Pictures, Universal Studios, Universal Theme Parks, and one that will let you sign up for the Universal DVD newsletter.
Would additional extras have made this set more interesting? Perhaps, but I doubt it. The Musketeer offered a dull and limp experience that never threatened to engage me. Despite flashy visuals and a loud soundtrack, I literally nodded off as I watched it. The DVD provided good picture and sound for the most part, but it lacked any substantial supplements. Unless you just have to see every adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas tale, skip this clunker.