The Three Musketeers (2011)

The Three Musketeers in 3D will probably make Alexandre Dumas, père, roll in his grave for the heavy tweaking that’s going on in the story of the Musketeers and the usage of random American and British accents instead of French. But fortunately for me, I got it.

The Paul WS Anderson version of Dumas’ tale of bravery and loyalty is mindless, outrageous and highly irreverent to the original source and its predecessors. It has way too much Milla Jovovich and not enough Musketeers. It also features Orlando Bloom with eyeliner and costumes that are bigger than an airplane, Christoph Waltz with a very poncy wig and Mads Mikkelsen with an eye patch that I wish had been in place when he played that one-eyed guy in Valhalla Rising. There’s also Logan Lerman as D’Artagnan who, in his American accent, dares to demand Luke Evans’ Aramis to speak “in French!” (I can easily affix the word “dude” right at the end there.)

Despite all this, I spent the entire two hours sitting in the cinema thoroughly entertained by the movie. It defies logic: how can a campy take on a solemn story be so much fun to watch? But as much as purists and Dumas scholars and pompous critics will try to convince me otherwise, I can’t help but appreciate the direction Anderson & Co. took in handling the material for the movie. I think I would’ve been indignant and disappointed if they tried to make a solemn movie with full-fledged drama that matched the 1993 Disney version starring Chris O’Donnell and Kiefer Sutherland (or any of the previous versions that had been made before–take your pick, each generation does have its own Three Musketeers). I’d rather not see a diabolical Richelieu from Waltz as Tim Curry had played him because I grew up with that version and I loved it and I didn’t need another version like that.

Or worse, what if they tried to match the book and failed? That would’ve been catastrophic and I would’ve been even angrier. Mind you, this sort of catastrophe had happened before. It’s called Clash Of The Titans. I definitely wasn’t looking forward to see another one like that.

This 2011 edition never claimed to be ‘the definitive’ or ‘the original’ Three Musketeers. Even before the movie was released, it’s already been marketed as a version of the tale that “your parents or grandparents have ever seen before”. It’s made in 3D – one of the best uses of the technology in movies that I’ve seen this year – and it has steampunk influences. Think more ‘sci-fi’ than ‘period drama’ and you’re on the right track. I, for one, prepared myself more for a Resident Evil-esque fare than a Marie Antoinette-like dish so the movie came out exactly as I wanted and that’s how I managed to catch all the tongue-in-cheek humor of the film and end up gushing about it with my friend for two full hours after walking out of the cinema.

It’s a film that I call an “eye candy film”. If all else fails, you will at least still be treated to a highly good-looking cast (watch out for Luke Evans; he’s a far sexier Aramis than Charlie Sheen ever was), beautiful costumes (you will envy the Duke of Buckingham’s collection of shoes) and gorgeous set decoration/production design. The action is fast paced, and enhanced by the flawless 3D, and the choreography fluid and dynamic. The under-25 portion of the cast – Lerman, Gabriella Wilde, Juno Temple and Freddie Fox – are showing massive potential that I hope will make them stars in the future. Fox, in particular, stole the show from everyone. If his portrayal of Louis is not evidence of a great huge talent, I don’t know what is.

I never thought I would say this but I sincerely hope Anderson will considering making a sequel. One Three Musketeers movie where the fighting is done in corsets and fancy tailored suits is definitely not enough.

Warrior

Has everyone seen Warrior, the movie starring Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte? If not, you should. Because this movie is one of the best movies I’ve seen this year, if not the absolute best.

It’s a lot like The Fighter in that it’s a movie about two brothers who play the same sports and goes through a little bit of sibling rivalry and comparisons are inevitable. I haven’t watched The Fighter so I don’t know which one is better but I can safely say that Warrior will probably come out on top in my list of favorites.

The story is full of sports movie cliché of two underdog fighters who beat the odds and reach the top. There’s family drama along the way that’s meant to give the story emotional depth and substance. There are dramatic moments that some may accuse of being cheesy and over-the-top. It’s probably not going to win any Best Original Screenplay at any award shows.

But the execution of this cliché, linear and familiar story? FLAWLESS.

Director Gavin O’Connor presents the story at a leisurely pace since the beginning, taking the time to build up the situations, the characters and the action. Each one of his characters – Brendan, Tommy, Paddy – has a dark past but all of them live in the present. What happens in their past is never fully explained and that’s the beauty of it – O’Connor lets us, the audience, figure it out on our own. This in no way means the movie is cerebral, though. It’s more like a gesture of faith from the filmmaker’s part, trusting his audience to think for themselves instead of spelling it out for them. His storytelling is masterful and stylish… he tells a feel-good story with an arthouse/indie-esque sensibility.

Before watching this movie, I read that O’Connor wanted to make a movie where the audience ends up rooting for both of the Conlon brothers even though they’re rivals. He managed to do exactly this. Brendan needs to win because he wants to put a roof above his family’s heads. Tommy needs to win because he has a high sense of honor and duty. Brendan is the poor teacher whom life treats unfairly. Tommy is the tortured superhero-like war vet who breaks the law. They’re both flawed, very much so (there’s a scene where they both treat their father Paddy with so much disrespect that I wanted to slap them both), and yet they’re both equally sympathetic. If you watch this movie and see how Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton play their characters, you will understand. Both actors are extremely good, have a strong chemistry with each other despite appearing in only a handful of scenes together, and it will be quite impossible to say which I like more. I don’t have one that I like more; they really are equal in my eyes and yes, I end up rooting for them.

Which is why I never stopped crying for the third of the movie. I literally had tears running down my cheeks for at least half an hour toward the end of the movie. It was that emotional.

By the way, Nick Nolte? If he doesn’t get an award nod at least once for playing Paddy, I will be very disappointed. He’s amazing!

And although I previously never had an interested in mixed martial arts, I have to admit, it’s a very sexy sport. I think I would’ve still said this if Hardy and Edgerton never played characters who were involved in MMA. How do you say this? The combination of various disciplines of martial arts make for one thrilling fight choreography and O’Connor definitely knows how to shoot the fights to make them look interesting. There’s also something very sensual about two male athletes with god-like physique battling each other in a tangle of limbs and sweat. It’s not at all revolting as I’d previously thought it would be.

But to tell you what makes Warrior works as a movie as a whole is going to take me dozens of paragraphs and I doubt I can be coherent at explaining what it is. It’s not just one thing, but a lot of things. Each key scene is a big picture with an underlying minor moment that wrings out a reaction out of you – laughter, tears, gasps and whatever else it is it demands from you. An excellent performance by the actors is accompanied by either an intense fighting act and/or solemn, triumphant score that raises the goosebumps on your skin. A particularly bloody and brutal fight has humorous commentaries and may reveal a facet of the characters’ personalities. The movie is a combination of a lot of good things that is neatly presented as a wonderful package. Perfection.

Livejournal: They Did It Again

Livejournal did maintenance. Then at 6.40 AM GMT (13.40 Indonesia time) it said it was experiencing site slowness due to traffic. But downornot.com says it should be UP. Which is probably a lie because people are complaining on Twitter.

On the one hand, I expected this kind of fiasco would happen. At least this time they warned us they were doing maintenance, so we could anticipate some errors.  On the other, I wonder why they can’t just run smoothly forever without frustrating their users. Oh well.