Top critical review
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five star film but...
on 1 March 2009
... it is let down by the fact that you have to turn the disc over half way. Considering the version I have is the 2005 re-release of the film and considering it is Disney (meaning that it was initially more expensive than most films) it is a true disgrace that this was not produced on the duel layer format. This film is 100 minutes in length and, considering that duel layer has been around for nearly 20 years, could easily have fitted on one side of the disc.
Firstly, it doesn't follow the book, but - so what - I can think of many films that have ignored the text that the idea came from and have been none-the-worse for that.
We open our story with a young and brash D'Artagnan (Chris O'Donnell - the vet out of NCIS: Los Angeles, Grey's Anatomy, School Ties, Batman Forever, and the awful Batman & Robin) fending off the challenge of a duel from the foppish and outraged brother of an unseen conquest (played to camp perfection by the be-wigged Paul McGann - Withnail and I). Seeing the outraged brothers friends approaching he flees for Paris to become a Musketeer like his father.
In Paris things do not go well for the Musketeers (the King's guards) as Cardinal Richelieu (played superbly by the incredible Tim Curry - Clue, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Colour of Magic) has sent out an order for the Musketeers to stand down. The King played by a young Irish actor Hugh O'Conor, is not too happy about this but unable to raise the courage to overrule his Cardinal the Musketeers are abolished and told to turn in their swords and return to their homes, Musketeer Headquarters is raided and the emblems of the order are destroyed.
On arriving in Paris D'Artagnan heads to Musketeer HQ only to discover a man crouched by the fireplace looking though the ashes. The man tells him that the Musketeers are no more and tries to leave, D'Artagnan gets in his way and after a brief conversation about manners a duel is arranged for noon. As he leaves the building D'Artagnan sees the outraged brother has followed him and he tries to evade him, in doing so he collides with a man and drinks are spilt, and a duel is arranged for 1 pm. Proceeding along the road D'Artagnan finds he has been used to cushion the fall of a man fleeing the husband of a woman, a third duel is arranged for 2 pm.
Come the time of the first duel D'Artagnan discovers that the men he has challenged are all Musketeers. As the Cardinal's guards arrive to arrest the three Musketeers (here, one of my favourite lines of the film is delivered by Oliver Platt) and the Musketeers introduce themselves to D'Artagnan. Athos (Kiefer Sutherland - 24, Young Guns, Flatliners, etc), Porthos (Oliver Platt - Flatliners) and Aramis (Charlie Sheen - Spin City, Young Guns).
The Cardinal hatches a plot for complete control and despatches Milady DeWinter (Rebecca De Mornay - The Hand That Rocks The Cradle) to London to make a deal with the Duke of Buckingham.
So the chase begins.
Oliver Platt is a joy to behold, his comic effect seems effortless, shame the same can't be said for Charlie Sheen's efforts. Kiefer Sutherland also seems effortless in his role as the quietly spoken, deep thinking Athos. Tim Curry excels himself as the villainous Cardinal, so much so that Michael Wincott (Alien Resurrection) pales by comparison to the outstanding Tim Curry.
Interestingly during filming Tim Curry was offered the role of the Doctor in the Doctor Who Movie , due to conflict in schedules he was unable to take it and the role went to Paul McGann.
I like this film a lot; it is one of those that goes in my bag when I have to go into hospital, even if I do have to turn it over as the action starts.
Once again the US film companies show that we in the UK are second class citizens; especially insulting is the need to turn the disc over halfway through a chase seen. You do get subtitles, but nothing else - not even duel layer.