“The Three Musketeers”

Still backlogged with the many goings on keeping me from posting so I can’t actually post about any of the goings on. It’s a vicious circle. Instead, have a cranky review.

I should first note that while I’m quite familiar with Alexander Dumas, The Three Musketeers is not among the many works of his that I have read. It sort of defies logic, but I don’t really have an excuse. Nevertheless, my point is that I’m rather unfamiliar with all but the most basic knowledge of this swashbuckling tale. Though, I’m not entirely sure that was a fault when it comes to this film. Certainly it was somewhat of an offset to all the negativity that greeted the film.

Movie poster

Personally, I think it would have been better received if it had been released a few months earlier as it’s the hallmark of a summer flick. All action and visual effects and very little substance. That isn’t to say there aren’t redeemable qualities and in fact the choreographed swordplay is quite exceptional. There’s certainly enough of it to keep the running time almost free of boredom.

At the very least your eyes will most assuredly never lack for stimuli. I’m not familiar with Paul W.S. Anderson at all, but I found this film almost nauseating in the amount captured on screen at any given time. There’s no one place for the eye to settle what with the gaudy wardrobe and sets that are littered with complex patterns and details to the point of distraction. I’m a great fan of period pieces, but this one is more a caricature of history than a romanticized version.

All the fussiness in the visual style does help alleviate the dreadfulness of the script, which has a grand helping of wretched dialogue and a plot that is simultaneously difficult to follow and completely transparent. I didn’t know such a thing were possible! And what the hell was up with all the accents?! There’s no point in expending the effort to bemoan the fact that no one sounds like they’re from Paris because not one person sounds like they’re even from the same place! I’ll give Orlando Bloom a bit of credit: he’s finally used a different accent than Legolas from The Lord of the Rings. But only to move so far into the stereotypical bad guy that his only misstep was to never twirl his mustache!

But for as dreadful as all that is what really bothers me is how entirely sick I have become of “bullet-time” like effects. I don’t necessarily mind the usage nor do I entirely despise these advancements being used to update these types of films, though I do admit to having a similar feeling of dissatisfaction with Sherlock Holmes. (Though, I actually liked that film.) No, really, it’s that I didn’t find their usage here enhanced anything. The fights would have been just as interesting without constantly slowing down and speeding up at random. In the end all it did was to make me feel a bit motion sick. Basically, it was like James Bond if it were a period film and lacking any British charm.

Truly, there are better ways to spend two hours.

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2”

Uschi and I are both sick. It is not how I wanted to spend my three-day weekend, but I did finally get to see the last HP film. [Read more…]

“Cars 2”

I think the world of Pixar. Their philosophy of movie-making is one that I wish more studios would subscribe to. However, while I generally am beyond words after seeing a film of theirs (and thus have never written a review prior to this) I am not a zombie-follower of their films; I don’t think they’ve had any downright flops, but I definitely have my favorites and ones that I don’t particularly care for. Given my lack of enthusiasm for real cars, it shouldn’t be surprising that Cars is not one of the films I care for. And I’m sorry but Ratatouille bores me.

So, anyway, I saw Cars 2. . . .

[Read more…]

“Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8: The Long Way Home”

Today the first issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 hits shelves. So, since I’ve been catching up on Season 8 I thought it a fitting time to review the first volume of the series.

Book cover

I was a bit wary of delving into Season 8. I’m a quite a fan of the television series — and of Joss Whedon’s work in general. But with few exceptions I haven’t read many comics that weren’t, well, comics. And what I have read that’s been transitioned and/or adapted into a comic has been resoundingly underwhelming. So, I was content to stay away from this even though it was confirmed as canon. Eventually curiosity — and many rave reviews and cast endorsements — finally cracked my resolve and I dug out my magnifier.1

The one big plus that continuing Buffy in comic form has is that Whedon has a pretty extensive history writing comics already. This means that condensing what might have been an episode in the television show is done in such a way that retains all the hallmarks of the series, including the witty, pop-culture-peppered dialogue.

Volume 1 collects the first five issues of the comic: the four-issue arc “The Long Way Home” and the standalone “The Chain.” It’s been about a year-and-a-half since the events of “Chosen,” the seventh season finale and a lot has changed for Buffy and the Scoobies now that the Hellmouth has been blown to smithereens and every Potential is now a full-on Slayer. To say the fight against evil has become epic is more than stating the obvious. Buffy now heads a command center with Xander overseeing several “squads” of Slayers and other magically-endowed fighters (witches and the like) all across the world. There’s lots of fancy tech at their disposal to help in their constant battle against a wide array of demons. And, of course, grounding things in a mystical form of reality, there’s a healthy helping of life problems including but not limited to Dawn “growing up.” Buffy also informs the reader that in an effort to keep her real location a secret from all the bad guys hellbent on her death, there are also two decoys of her out in the world. “The Long Way Home” sets all this up and introduces us to the new Big Bad. It’s a great beginning; a well-paced story arc with lots of action. But it’s “The Chain” that really stands out in this volume, which follows one of those aforementioned Buffy decoys. It’s a really great piece of writing and really shows off Whedon’s talent for mixing comedy into something dark. There’s a lot of deep meaning in this short piece about feminism, values, and social duty. I found it incredibly haunting.

The art is quite superb — especially the amazing Jo Chen covers. I was surprised how easily I was absorbed into this new medium, expecting to find the transition a bit more jarring. And while I’ve never thought of the show as a slouch in the special effects department, the comic really does allow for a much grander playground. One that’s also a bit more risque. With such a huge cast of characters and such enormous versatility in abilities, it can only grow more spectacular.

A very promising start to and a fresh new take on a truly phenomenal series. And probably the strongest endorsement I can give is that I think comic fans that aren’t necessarily fans of the television show will find this an enjoyable book to follow.

  1. Being blind makes reading comics a right pain.

“Charmed: Season 9, Volume 1”

Yes. I watched Charmed. All eight seasons. I don’t really know why I continued to watch a show that more often than not made me froth at the mouth from all the suppressed rage I felt with the many shortcomings. I can only say that I’m a glutton for punishment and honestly Sunday evenings aren’t exactly stellar television unless you’re into prime-time soaps.

Anyway, while reading reviews for Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 (which I am slowly making my way through reading) I stumbled upon a review for the Charmed comic. And long story short I decided to give it a read myself. I mean, it couldn’t possibly be as bad as the last few seasons, right?
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