Volume 95, Issue 7
Wednesday, September 12, 2001
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Old story dies quick on screen
Musketeer's story lacks substance
There are many reasons to rush out and watch this particular film. However, none of them pertain to any particularly good aspect of the movie. Then again, you won't need to hurry to see it if you're a fan of martial arts movies, because you've seen it all before.
By no means does a movie have to contain an extremely original plot in order to excel. After all, many masterpieces have been created on some of the oldest stories. Look at Romeo and Juliet or A West Side Story, for example.
The story of The Musketeer takes place in 17th century France. It develops quickly following the death of a young boy's parents. The boy is then taken in by the murdered father's close friend and trained as a swordsman in order to one day become a Musketeer and avenge his slain parents.
Scenes quickly shift and the journey to Paris begins. Many short battles later, the future Musketeer finds himself in a centre of corruption which he must defeat. Throw in a girl wherever possible and you have the plot.
Try and guess how it ends.
Sometimes even a horrid movie can single-handedly be saved by a great acting performance. In this case, Tim Roth, from movies such as Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, fights desperately to save this film, but even his courageous efforts fall short.
Roth does deliver an excellent performance as the monstrous villain Febre. He successfully demonstrates wit, charisma, a healthy dose of creepiness and comes off as perfect for the part.
The other main character, D'Artagnan, is played by Justin Chambers. Chambers fails to portray a man with a passion for justice and truth burning inside. Instead, he appears more like a Keanu Reeves instead of delivering noteworthy lines, he just kind of stands there while the plot develops around him.
Most disappointing is Francesca, a character played by Mena Suvari. She solidly proved herself as an aspiring actress in American Beauty, so it was tragic to see her act so poorly, especially since she was not faced with a challenging role. She fails to captivate the hearts of the audience as the beautiful vixen and her character shows no development throughout the course of the movie.
It seems apparent most people will be drawn to this movie by the Matrix /Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon-style fight scenes whipped up for your eyes in the trailer. Don't be fooled though, there is little to nothing new here either.
The final battle scene involves the two main characters, Febre and D'Artagnan, leaping ladder to ladder as if gravity does not exist. This final reckoning was done with far better precision and skill in a prior movie, Once Upon A Tme In China.
Throughout the movie, one will notice scenes borrowed from better films. A couple interesting new moves don't quite come close to making this an action-packed adventure. So be careful not be drawn in by the flashy trailer. There is no substance here.
With all that in mind, add an extremely cheesy dialogue the kind you would find in a bad Saturday morning cartoon. For the most part, it's almost unbearable.
The movie has some worthwhile elements besides the brilliant performance from Roth. (The imagery is great and you never catch yourself mocking a tavern or home for not looking authentic.) The same goes for the costuming worn by all the characters throughout the picture.
Let's see now: cheesy. Boring. Repetitious. A waste of money. There, that's more like it.
Copyright © The Gazette 2001