The Bombs: The Musketeer (2001)
I was drunk when I rented this. No, wait, I don't drink. My real excuse is that I was between Netflix movies so, in the mood for a screening, I went to our local video store with the daunting task of finding a DVD my wife wouldn't want to see (she had gone to bed) but that would still entertain me. It wouldn't have been so hard except I've become addicted to the widescreen presentation, and my local shop really only carries new releases on DVD. So, with some trepidation, I rented The Musketeer. It was very, very bad.
But before I get into how bad, there was one good thing to come out of this. I've finally codified how bad a movie has to be to be included in my "Bombs" series. The criteria is simple: if I can't imagine how ANYBODY could like a particular movie, even guiltily, I'll include it.
Since Kevin Thomas (LA Times) and Michael O'Sullivan (Washington Post) liked it, and since Roger Ebert waffled way too much in his negative review, The Musketeer is fair game.
Granted, a movie like this only needs to shuttle us from action scene to action scene, which shouldn't be too hard. But when the transitions are so painful to watch - awful dialog delivered badly -- even that simple purpose breaks down.
And how 'bout those action scenes, arguably the film's only saving grace? The opening fight starts promisingly enough, but quickly makes use of the worst of wire-fu, with our hero impossibly suspended between two rafters fighting off several enemies below who have to deliberately move too slowly to avoid stabbing our hero and ending the movie prematurely (or right on time, depending on your point of view). Then there's the scene where our hero fights off at least a dozen attackers from a moving carriage. Those blows that aren't badly cut obviously don't land with any force, and yet the recipient still goes flying. The climactic battle? Shamelessly ripped straight our of Once Upon a Time in China. Theft or homage? You be the judge.
Peter Hyams acted as his own cinematographer, which doesn't seem to be cause for celebration here. The movie looked like a made-for-TV special shot in widescreen. Some of the set design was fine, but the camera-work was shockingly static far too often.
A note to Hollywood: you've used up all your chances to make a modern musketeers movie. Remaster the early 70s versions, put them out on a special edition DVD, and then back away slowly.