Wednesday, December 5, 2012

All For One Week: La Femme Musketeer

All for one and one for the ladies!  Today's film is La Femme Musketeer aka confusing fan-service.  Seriously, you just added a lady Musketeer- so what?  As you'll see in the next week or so, this idea was actually done a lot sooner than this mini-series' 2004 release date on the Hallmark Channel.  So what's the film about?  It's basically a rehash of the original tale, only with older Musketeers (to get middle-aged stars) and a lady in the group.  Sure glad that you made a three-hour mini-series for that reason!  The big draw of this film is the Cast, which features a bunch of notable names.  Michael York, John Rhys-Davies, Natasja Kinski and Gerard Depardieu help round out (insert fat joke here) this ensemble.  Rather than just ramble, I might as well get to the review.  To find out if this film is worth your time, read on...
Ah that classic film rule shows up once again: Tell, don't show.

Wait- did I get that backwards again?  Either that or this film did.
Bloody (literal, not British slang) War is going on.  King Louis is not exactly in control anymore, but the Cardinal (Depardieu) is.

Oh and he's not the usual Cardinal.  Just another level of silly for the film.  Joy.
D'Artagnan has trained his daughter Valentine, as shown in this scene where their doubles pop in and out.

The original Musketeers are all here, but they're not in the King's service.  Instead, they do Renaissance Festival-style shows.  No, really.
"Hi, I'm a famous French star.  As such, I'll barely appear in this film and still get high billing.  That is all."
 So here's where the film falls apart for me.  The plot is pretty simple (capture/free the Spanish Princess), but the narrative is split thusly...

* Lead henchman schemes with Kinski.
* Old Musketeers try to help.
* Random scene of Depardieu.
* Half of new Musketeers look for the Princess.
* Other half (w/ Valentine) look for aid from the rest of the French Army.
I haven't seen a film with the narrative split so pointlessly since I saw Cloud Atlas.  For ruining a Musketeer story, all I can do is make this face!
In a really contrived bit, the lead henchman kills six young Musketeers by himself earlier, but now fights D'Artagnan to a stand-still!  Fear the power of Michael York!
Naturally, everything wraps up with our heroes, King Louis and the rest.  Big shock.  The End.
This has potential, but the format just kills it.  If you want to make a mini-series, fine.  The key thing is to have an epic story that requires a longer format.  Just look at some of the more famous ones like Roots or V.  Those have some major stories with multiple arcs.  This is basically the plot of a 90-minute film, but stretched to fill three hours.  This was a bad decision.  The movie is just long and tedious.  Is it any wonder that I kept this film around for nearly a week before powering through it?  It's not a bad movie- it's just way too long.  There's not a lot of major points that I can highlight as being bad- it's just way too long.  In summary, stick with a less star-studded cast and a shorter run-time to enjoy this story.  No amount of silly faces can help me change my mind...
Up next, a 1979 Musketeers film that takes a different tale entirely.  See the star of Deadwood in a powdered wig!  Stay tuned...

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