i saw the crazy new 3 musketeers today. and no, it’s not as good as the book by alexander dumas (doo-maw) upon which it is oh-so-loosely based. but that’s ok, it’s a lot of fun in a lot of ways that i really appreciate. and it’s not trying to follow the book by plot, synopsis, or cover, but in spirit; which it does wonderfully, staying true to the swash-buckling bravado and fraternal escapades of 4 men w swords. you can’t say that about all our recent re and re-re-makes. we’re at that point, after all, where the movie or story is getting made a 2nd, 3rd or 4th time! a lot of the favorites have had plenty of red carpet merry-go rounds: batman and king kong, sherlock and nosferatu. in fact, i’m sure you’ve heard that there are 2(!) live action snow whites being made, and even the girl w the dragon tattoo is getting it’s american import before noomi rapace can take off her bulldog choker and grow out her razor cut hair (to be replaced w victorian jewels and tresses so she can be in the next sherlock!).
compare these queens from the 2 new snow whites
many of those upcoming films will have morphed or entirely original plots, retaining only the characters from the source material. so does that mean they’re new properties, w no similarity to their namesake? no! because what’s important is the spirit of the thing, irrespective of even maniacal superficial changes. for instance, look – NO! – ‘consider’, romeo + juliet, baz luhrman’s neo pop rendition of the bard’s most famous tale. it’s guns and punk rock, fast cars and trip-hop-fast recitation of shakespeare’s iambic pentameter… but it’s in the Spirit of the original play. just look at the cover where the words love, despair, hope and tragedy are writ plain in letter and image:
baz, and even the film’s publicity team, want you to know it’s all still there: the ethos(setting) may have changed and the logos(plot) minutely deviated, but the pathos(spirit) remains sincere and, just like romeo + juliet‘s love, eternally devout. but this example may be cheating. you’d have to chuck the old dialog and ‘translate’ and edit and condense before you could really lose the nature of the bard’s tales. besides, his were all plays, so pissed and pacing hamlet is well designed for 2 hours of theater sitting. but musketeers is different, it’s a big, grand book, so it has to be condensed, cut, and even rearranged. therefore, how shall we judge musketeers against other adapted tomes?
since we’ve mentioned a Dane, let us address beowulf, one of my favorite surviving olde english epic poems (along w the lord of the rings and the silmarillion… those are real, eh?). beowulf is fairly light on pages (look at lotr or hp or tgwtdt in comparison) so it should translate perfectly to the screen, right? actually, this first ever big screen adaptation has almost none of the epic verse’ spirit. beowulf is about a warrior who fights for God & Country. quite literally, he’s a Geat and he’s into smiting for Christ. now, there are some serious mistakes in beowulf’s new testament orthodoxy – a midas-like love of treasure and ridiculous thirst for battle – but on the whole, he’s christian. however, neil gaiman and co-writer roger avary changed him and his world so much philosophically and pathologically, never mind the plot, that the resulting character and story no longer resemble their progenitors in the core ways, the deep ways, the ways that are important. i went into the film thinking it would be the creepy robert zemeckis animation that would drive me nuts, but i was wrong, it was the corrupted spirit of the story. by the time the credits rolled, i was almost ready to pass out from the downer you get after an anger induced adrenaline rush. now it must be noted that i get riled up by bad movies, but i also cheer for good ones. so please understand that my feeling is not one of disappointment in a technically bad film or irritation at an empirically changed plot, but at betrayal by a pathological twisting of anima, guts, and spirit. which is sad. cause i love beowulf.
so thank you to musketeer’s director paul ws anderson for making a film both visually refreshing, and in the true spirit of the material that inspired it! and i know a lot of you out there probably saw the trailer w the…
1. steam-punk airship
2. milla jovovich doing matrix-like acrobatics
3. orlando bloom in a buccaneer-cum-court ponce pompadour haircut w matching earring
4. and last but not least, an 18th century assassin using a scuba suit(!)
…and you thought: ‘that’s stupid’. but i’ve been in your position before, friend. i was watching the trailer for the 5th element and i said ‘what? that’s stupid’. then i watched the movie and i realized stupid can often be incorrectly confused w crazy. and i like crazy. not only that, i like movies that plan, predicate, and jump headlong into crazy not just for it’s own sake, but to have fun. and that’s what the brilliant but insane sci-fi masterpiece 5th element does, and to a lesser degree, what musketeers does, as well. it’s not as good, even though it also has the true maven of female action in it: milla jovovich (sorry angelina). and it’s not as hero perfect, cause even though i really like all of musketeer‘s actors, none of them is bruce willis. but it’s crazy good fun. and we all need more of that at the movies! so for all of you who scoffed at the trailer, here’s more detail than you wanted: the neo-history/steam punk flair is pulled off much better than league of extraordinary gentleman; the sword fighting is top notch; and it’s anderson’s best movie, which isn’t saying a lot, but it’s better than resident evil, which i think is a fun little film. and for all you actor nerds, it’s got the sublimely evil christoph waltz! so just remember this: movies are supposed to be fun, and they’re supposed to have swords – and the 3 musketeers has both. en garde!
in addition to snow white, ‘red riding hood’ has a just had another remake. the ‘5th element’ - yay! ‘beowulf’ - boo! and the new ‘mission impossible 4′, which i’m looking forward cause it’s directed by brad bird and cause the trailer makes it look like a lot of fun.
noomi in ‘tGwtDT’ vs the new ‘sherlock’. she still looks angry.
full disclosure: i’ve been looking to get that ‘beowulf’ chagrin off my chest for a while, but i am a fan of neil gaiman. just read ‘american gods’ or ‘neverwhere’ to get on his bandwagon. although ‘gods’ will let you in on his distaste for deities of any nature, ‘neverwhere’ (along w ‘stardust’ [not to be confused w the willie nelson album]) is an exciting and delightful neo-fantasy adventure for boys and girls alike. i even foisted it on my little sister, which vouchsafes for its good standing.