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SUMMIT

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Paul W.S. Anderson
Cast:
Orlando Bloom, Matthew Macfadyen, Milla Jovovich, Luke Evans, Helen George, Christian Oliver, Ray Stevenson, Til Schweiger
Writing Credits:
Alex Litvak, Andrew Davies, Alexandre Dumas (novel, "Les Trois Mousquetaires")

Tagline:
Every legend has a new beginning.

Synopsis:
The hot-headed young D'Artagnan along with three former legendary but now down on their luck Musketeers must unite and defeat a beautiful double agent and her villainous employer from seizing the French throne and engulfing Europe in war.

Box Office:
Budget
$75 million.
Opening Weekend
$8.674 million on 3017 screens.
Domestic Gross
$20.374 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish

Runtime: 110 min.
Price: $30.49
Release Date: 3/13/2012

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Paul WS Anderson and Producers Jeremy Bolt and Robert Kulzer
• “Access: Three Musketeers” Interactive Feature
• Four Featurettes
• Deleted/Extended Scenes
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Three Musketeers [Blu-Ray] (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 7, 2012)

Apparently an unwritten cinematic rule dictates that every generation must get its own film version of The Three Musketeers. Actually, a look at IMDB reveals umpty-ump tellings of the Alexandre Dumas story, but when it comes to big-budget renditions, those tend to turn into “once every couple of decades” occurrences.

Though plenty of versions predated it, my first direct experience with a Musketeers came via Richard Lester’s 1973 hit that starred Richard Chamberlain, Raquel Welch and Oliver Reed. However, since I was only six at the time, I’m not sure I saw it theatrically. Such questions don’t confront the 1993 flick with Keifer Sutherland, Charlie Sheen and Chris O’Donnell. I know I saw that one, though beyond the cloying hit theme song “All For Love”, I’d be hard-pressed to remember anything about it.

Though I thought otherwise, that Rod Stewart/Sting/Bryan Adams single was the only really successful element related to the 1993 Musketeers. I could’ve sworn it did good box office business, but I was incorrect, as it took in a mediocre-even-back-in-1993 $53 million in the US.

At least that tops the really-bad-in-2011 $20 million earned by the most recent version. Lest I judge a film solely by its financial earnings, I figured I'd give the 2011 edition a look.

French royal guards known as Musketeers head to Italy to steal airship plans designed by Leonardo da Vinci. This group consists of Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Porthos (Ray Stevenson) and Aramis (Luke Evans); Athos’ lover Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich) also assists in the heist.

All goes well – until the victory party. At that time, Milady drugs the Musketeers and delivers the plans to the English Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom).

Fast-forward one year, and we meet country boy D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman), a young swordsman who wants to be a musketeer. Alas, by the time he gets to his destination, he discovers that the Musketeers disbanded after their failed escapade.

D’Artagnan also immediately runs afoul of the heroes we already met, as he challenges all of them to a variety of duels. During his short stay in Paris, he also cheeses off various officials and winds up in a fight with Captain Rochefort (Mads Mikkelson) and the Cardinal’s guards. An “enemy’s enemy is my friend” vibe brings the Musketeers to his side, and the four fight off their foes with aplomb.

This leads D’Artagnan into the Musketeers’ orbit, though they don’t officially start the band again. They need a cause against which to unite, and they eventually find one. Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) attempts to seize power from the young King Louis XIII (Freddie Fox). Richelieu believes – perhaps correctly – that the immature King lacks the qualities necessary to rule the nation, so he conspires to launch conflict with England to force the issue. The Musketeers attempt to set things right.

Throughout his career, Paul WS Anderson has proven himself to be a Perfectly Serviceable Director. Never better, never worse – he’s totally okay and that’s about it.

I guess it’s good that you know what you’ll get from Anderson, though it does lead to a definite diminution of expectations when you see his name attached to a project. When this happens, I feel pretty sure I’ll get a watchable movie, but I find it hard to expect anything that’ll do much to impress me.

Does this pattern hold true for Musketeers? Pretty much, though the film seems more derivative than usual, as one can easily discern multiple cinematic influences here. Heck, Anderson even appears to rip off himself, as many scenes – especially those with Jovovich – feel like they came out of Resident Evil.

This leads to a smattering of absurd sequences. Granted, Anderson openly embraces anachronisms here, as he doesn’t even vaguely attempt period authenticity. Not only will you find all form of technology that doesn’t fit the 17th century, but also we get a bizarre melange of accents. French, German, Austrian, American, British – there’s not even the slightest attempt at consistency.

One gets the sense that Anderson couldn’t care less about verisimilitude or period realism; from start to finish, he opts for an attempt at crazy action. And for a while, he kind of pulls this off, as the first act of Musketeers delivers a decent amount of entertainment. Although its lack of originality can grate – lay off the Matrix-style slow-motion, Paul! – there’s a sense of unself-conscious fun that manages to carry along the viewer.

Alas, it doesn’t last, partly because Anderson lets the movie steer away from the action. As we get involved in potentially extraneous plot details, the second act meanders. Granted, some of this material connects back to the overall story eventually, but the seeming pointlessness makes the middle of the film drag, and it never quite recovers. The Musketeers get lost along the way, and by the time they return to prominence, we don’t much care; we’ve been left adrift for too long to find ourselves immersed in the events when they come back home.

None of this makes Musketeers a bad film, but nothing here allows the movie to really prosper. We get 110 minutes of fairly mindless occasional fun without a great deal of inventiveness or creativity. It’s average action-adventure.

By the way, after I wrote the opening to this review, I remembered that another version of the story came out between the 1993 and 2011 flicks: 2001’s The Musketeer. So much for my “once every generation” theory!


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B-/ Bonus B

The Three Musketeers appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. No problems materialized during this fine presentation.

Sharpness was solid. At all times, the flick exhibited strong definition and suffered from no notable instances of softness. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge haloes remained minor. Source flaws were absent.

Like many period pieces, colors tended toward a somewhat golden feel. That wasn’t an overwhelming tint, though, so the film still boasted a variety of rich hues; in particular, reds looked rich and full. Overall color reproduction worked nicely and seemed dynamic. Blacks were deep and dense, while shadows appeared clear and appropriately opaque. Across the board, the image satisfied.

Though it boasted a loud, active DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, the audio wasn’t quite as positive. The main issue stemmed from the quality of the sound, as the track came with some concerns. In particular, speech could be a problem; the lines occasionally showed a distant feel that could make dialogue hard to understand. This wasn’t a terrible issue, but it created some distractions along the way.

In addition, the soundfield could be a bit too active, and the elements didn’t always blend together tremendously well. I got the impression the sound designers felt they had to crank things to 11 to add the film’s “kapow factor”, and this meant the mix tended to be overwhelming. Yes, it was big and bold, but the audio could overwhelm the action and stand out in an unnatural way.

Still, the soundscape could add pizzazz to the adventure when it backed down a bit and didn’t try to batter us. To be sure, the five channels got a good workout, and the track could impress; it just lacked the consistency I’d like.

Except for the speech, audio quality worked well. Music was bold and dynamic, and effects seemed clean and concise. The mix boasted strong bass response that packed a good punch. The flaws made this a “B-“ mix, though, as the minor concerns kept it from a strongly above-average rating.

When we shift to the Blu-ray’s extras, we launch with an audio commentary from director Paul WS Anderson and producers Jeremy Bolt and Robert Kulzer. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. They discuss story/character/script topics, cast and performances, sets and locations, action and stunts, various effects, music, influences and inspirations, period details/realism, costumes and cinematography, and some other areas.

The three men found here have worked together for a while and met up for a mix of commentaries. That familiarity helps add some comfort to the track, though it doesn’t ensure a particularly memorable piece. While we learn a reasonable amount about the movie, the track can be spotty due to slow spots and gaps. That said, it ends up as a competent and usually informative piece.

Footnote: someone needs to tell Anderson that Amy Adams had nothing to do with the recent Sherlock Holmes movies; I guess he confused her with Rachel McAdams.

Called Access: Three Musketeers, an interactive component pops up next. This covers six domains that look at cast, characters and performances, text trivia about the novel, history and other areas, visual design and sets, stunts and action, shooting 3D, and costumes/period details.

In the video clips, we hear from Anderson, Bolt, production designer Paul Denham Austerberry, stunt coordinator/2nd unit director Nick Powell, costume designer Pierre-Yves Gayraud and actors Matthew Macfadyen, Milla Jovovich, Luke Evans, Ray Stevenson, Logan Lerman, Mads Mikkelsen, Christoph Waltz, Freddie Fox, Gabriella Wild, James Corden, Orlando Bloom and Juno Temple. A “Musketeer Fight Meter” also provides a chart that tracks the assaults waged by the various musketeers.

Though it occasionally repeats info from the commentary, “Access” adds a lot of good new notes. We see useful footage from the shoot and get a nice take on the history involved. The “Meter” is useless but also painless, so it’s only a minor distraction. Overall, “Access” provides a quality addition to the set.

Note that “Access” comes with a much more user-friendly interface than most picture-in-picture programs. Not only does it tell you how long you need to wait for the next component to appear, but also it lets you easily skip ahead or back. This allows the viewer to zip through the piece with much less tedium and fuss than usual.

Four featurettes follow. We find Paul WS Anderson’s Musketeers (2:30), Orlando Bloom Takes on the Duke (1:59), 17th Century Air Travel (2:20) and Uncovering France in Germany (2:42). Across these, we hear from Anderson, Temple, Evans, Fox, Jovovich, Stevenson, and Bloom. These look at Anderson’s take on the story and situations, Bloom’s character and performance, sets, effects, and locations.

If you watched “Access”, these snippets will look familiar, as all of them appear there. Why are these on their own? I have no idea. If the Blu-ray made all of the “Access” video clips available in a separate place, that’d make sense, but it seems strange to do this for only a handful of them. Watch them if you don’t want to bother with “Access”, but otherwise they’re redundant.

12 Deleted and Extended Scenes fill a total of 14 minutes, 18 seconds. Almost all of these fall into the “extended” category and offer minor added character tidbits. Nothing crucial appears in them, and they don’t do anything to alter our impressions of any of the roles. Some of them are mildly fun but not more than that. Only two actual full deleted scenes show up; they’re also brief and unmemorable.

In a nice touch, when you watch the extended scenes, a marker lets you know what parts show the new footage.

The disc opens with ads for Man on a Ledge and The Darkest Hour. No trailer for Musketeers pops up here.

While no one seems likely to label 2011’s The Three Musketeers as the worst telling of that particular tale, it also appears unlikely to top any lists. The movie delivers enough action to become sporadically exciting, but it lacks the consistency to turn into anything truly memorable. The Blu-ray comes with excellent visuals, erratic audio and a reasonably good set of supplements. Three Musketeers gives us a competent action flick but not something I can strongly recommend.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.5952 Stars Number of Votes: 42
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04:
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main