(a review of The Musketeer (2001))
How disappointing. You wait sixteen years to see a movie that looked like it had great fight scenes, only to find out that it barely has those, and those are all it has going for it at all. The Musketeer, a very loose adaptation of Dumas’ classic serial even considering its predecessors, lacks the charm, the fun, and the general likeability of the Disney version people in my age bracket may or may not have grown up on. Trying to stand solely on its choreography, it couldn’t even be imaginative enough to squeeze more fight scenes in, whether they belonged or not.
And if I may stop to aside here, Tim Roth went out like a bitch. For a film that opens with him murdering the protagonist’s parents, I barely even noticed that the fight had ended. I thought to myself, “Okay, there’s no way he’s going to die as he “hilariously” slides down a ladder face first. Oh… Nevermind.” Most of all though this was somehow the worst sword fight in the film, a ridiculous twist on a WWE ladder match where some of the ladders are made of twigs and others made of unbreakable script armor. There was some greatness in the other fights, even a little fun in the way off-base ascension to the tower (why the fuck were there so many guards waiting for him to start climbing the side of the tower, ready to rappel down and meet him?), but the final fight, too often poorly regarded as a time to be lazy in storytelling, just did nothing right.
Tim Roth’s character Febre was an unwelcome addition to the plot anyhow, and not the only one. He was completely unable to hold a candle to the sinister Rochefort, who in this film was barely involved, and he took the role of leading antagonist away from Richelieu, better portrayed by Tim Curry than in this movie anyway, and Milady de Winter was completely absent. I remember reading that The Three Musketeers (1993) is a simplified version of the original novel’s plot, but all substance was removed completely for this rendition.
Lastly, I hated the look of the film. I know, I know, I should really learn some more terminology if I’m going to be doing this, but the damn thing looked like it was intentionally shot on a bunch of really old cameras. Overall it felt like an older film, the delivery of dialogue being quicker than would be believable and the grainy and dark picture reminding me why I don’t go further back than the 80’s unless I’m really, really interested. I wanted to like this movie, I promise I did. But at every turn I, yes I admit it, wanted to pop in the Chris O’Donnell one, because at least he, Oliver Platt, Kiefer Sutherland, and Charlie Sheen made likable fucking musketeers. And I fucking love Tim Curry and Michael Wincott.