Weekend Viewing Roundup: Three Musketeers (2011) & Lambent Fuse Premiere

Happy Monday all! Did you watch an Irish-related movie or were you at the cinema watching 21 Jump Street? I have zero interest in seeing it but surprisingly that movie’s a hit w/ the critics AND audiences to make #1 at the box office!

My hubby and I got Apple TV over the weekend and we absolutely love it! So instead of renting through Amazon on Demand, we now rent stuff via iTunes and the streaming quality is actually a lot better. Anyway, as is customary with most of my weekend viewings, I like to mix up different genres. I was thisclose on renting My Week with Marilyn but we wanted something with a bit more action so we went with The Three Musketeers, well suffice to say we regretted our decision within 10 minutes!

Last night my friend Astrid and I went to the Lambent Fuse premiere, the one I featured last Wednesday. We met briefly with the director Matt Cici who introduced the movie. We’re also treated with a mini concert from a local folk singer (who can rap as well as he sings!) before the movie, definitely making the $10 bucks ticket even more worthwhile!

Here are my mini reviews of the two:


As I’ve alluded to in my intro, the latest Alexandre Dumas adaptation is a dud! I actually put this on my most-anticipated of 2011 as I love the cast, but was dissuaded by the dismal reviews. But I figure it’s at least worth a rental right? Ahah, well barely.

Ok, I have to admit the three musketeers look good in tight leather 😉

I’m not even going to write about the plot as most of you certainly already know about the tale of the famous French guards: Arthos, Porthos and Aramis and the young D’Artagnan. Paul W.S. Anderson, whose films Mortal Kombat, Event Horizon, Resident Evil, etc. are definitely NOT my cup of tea, promises a re-imagining story of the legendary swashbuckling adventure. Well, this tells me to NEVER trust a film by this UK director again, no matter how good the cast!

Speaking of which, I really think it’s criminal to waste such a plethora of talents, including Christoph Waltz, Mads Mikkelsen and the three actors playing the musketeers: Matthew Macfadyen, Luke Evans and Ray Stevenson. We know all of these actors are capable of so much more given their resume, but they’re given so little to do and the inept script is practically cringe-worthy! Now, Milla Jovovich as the seductive and skilled assassin and the wildly-ornamented Orlando Bloom are right on their element here as neither of them have any business as an actor.

Oh Christoph, just what are you doing in this movie??!

The worst part of all is of course the D’Artagnan casting. 20-year-old Californian Logan Lerman is so out of his league in that role of a supposedly daring rascal, as he lacks any kind of charisma believability even for a fantasy flick like this one. To say he’s a far cry from Gabriel Byrne’s portrayal in The Man in The Iron Mask is putting it mildly. I really think that if someone with just a smidgen more talent (perhaps someone like Nicholas Hoult?) this movie might have a teeny bit of saving grace. Lerman didn’t even bother attempting a British accent, yes I know the Musketeers are supposedly French guards but at least it’d be more consistent if the actors all speak with the same accent.

The action sequences are nothing new, pretty much a rip-off of Matrix and other similarly-styled action flicks after that. Even the music sounds like a rip-off of The Dark Knight, Gladiator & those Pirates of the Carribean movies! The preposterous plot is topped with the air-ships where a lot of the fighting takes place. Logic doesn’t seem to be a factor in this movie, as these articulate & complex ships seem to have been built in a matter of days! And we’re not talking of just ONE flying ship, but an entire armada! Perhaps the director has secretly wished he had directed a Pirates movie?? [shrugs] The only decent thing about this movie is the set pieces which I thought looked beautiful, but really, set pieces alone don’t make a movie!!

Final Thoughts: Unless you are die-hard fans of any of the cast, I’d say skip this one. Seriously, it made even the 1993 version with Charlie Sheen as Aramis (ha!) seemed like an Oscar contender, at least Tim Curry looked like he had more fun as the Cardinal than Christoph did. Mr. Dumas must be spinning in his grave!

1.5 out of 5 reels


As I’ve described in detail in the interview post with director Matt Cici, this film is a character study of six characters whose decisions and life scenarios somehow get entangled with one another. Each of the characters have a certain condition that practically takes over their lives to a degree, ranging from kleptomania, deep depression resulting from a personal loss, to irrational obsession.

The film doesn’t preach about certain morality so much as presenting in a non-chronological manner, what the characters’ choices affect others and their own. As Matt mentioned in the interview, “… and audience watches this film and becomes more of a participant rather than just a viewer. They may impart judgement on what’s right and what’s not right…” and I find myself doing just that as I’m watching it.

The one character I’m taken with the most is Freddie Goone (Rhett Romsaas) who lost his sister in a hit-and-run accident one night and is overtaken by grief and vengeance pretty much wrecks his relationship with his girlfriend Allison (Heidi Fellner). I feel like his journey up until the explosive ending is the most engaging than the rest, and his encounter with the unlikely ‘enemy’ if you will is done quite well.

The nice things about watching a locally-made film is that we’re not focusing on the unknown actors and our predisposed feelings about them, but more on the narration. By the same token though, I feel that some of the actors are not as experienced and thus compromise the quality of the film. The emotional scenes between Freddie and Allison for example, could’ve been much more heart-wrenching but I didn’t really feel the connection between the two actors. The robbery scenes are whimsical and get the most laughs but again, most of these characters are so unsympathetic it’s hard to really connect with them. Speaking of whimsical, the fast-paced finale taking place at the Mpls/St. Paul airport ends up being unintentionally comical to me than I’m sure it’s intended to be. I also think the link between all these characters isn’t as strong as I would have liked it, but the concept is certainly intriguing.

Overall I think Lambent Fuse is a worthy debut from Matt Cici. Despite some of the really slow parts, there are much to be enjoyed here, and I do think the cinematography is beautiful. The use of music also adds to the mood without overpowering the story, and it’s great that he collaborates with local musicians for this film. I think the fact that he chose such a challenging non-chronological style is to be commended, the story is quite dense and hard to follow at times because there are so much going on, but I was able to digest quite a bit of it in my first viewing.
Final Thoughts: This is not a ‘feel-good’ movie, in fact it’s more of a somber, melancholy affair. I enjoyed it for the most part, and in some degree the story still lingers with me even hours after I watched it. A promising debut from Matt Cici, I hope he continues to make films in the future!
3 out of 5 reels

So what did you see this weekend, folks? Thoughts on either one of these films, please do share in the comments!

THIS JUST IN: ‘Three Musketeers’ Trailer

I’ve always had a soft spot for Alexandre Dumas’ 17th century classic tale The Three Musketeers. Now, I haven’t seen any of Paul W. S. Anderson’s movies (for better or worse), as he’s known for movies like Resident Evil, AVP: Alien vs. Predator, Death Race, etc., none of which is my cup of tea. So this’ll be the first movie of his I’d watch. Check out the trailer below:

This is one of my anticipated movies of this year, and as I said in that post, I particularly like the cast that make up the Three Musketeers themselves: Ray Stevenson, Luke Evans and Matthew Macfayden. Oh and of course there’s Christoph Waltz — as well as German actor Til Schweiger — who were both great in Inglourious Basterds. As for D’Artagnan, I’d rather see someone like Aaron Johnson in the role but I guess Logan Lerman would do, I thought he was pretty decent in 3:10 to Yuma as Christian Bale’s son. Oh, Anderson’s wife Milla Jovovich (the heroine of Resident Evil) also plays one of the movie’s antagonists. I hope both she and Orlando Bloom as the Duke of Buckingham have just a small screen time here.

Oh, and how could I forget Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, who is another reason to watch this movie! The Casino Royale baddie once again has something in his eye, donning an eye patch this time 🙂 Mads and Christoph are playing Comte de Rochefort and Cardinal Richelieu respectively.

Now the trailer is obviously way more bad ass and explosive than previous Three Musketeers‘ adaptations. I don’t have much of a problem with that, just like I didn’t mind that Guy Ritchie’s action-packed Sherlock Holmes. We’ll see if this will replace The Man in the Iron Mask as my favorite adaptation so far, but at the very least, it looks like a fun swashbuckling entertainment as the weather cools off come October. If I’m feeling generous, I might even check it out in 3D (at least it was shot in 3D, not a conversion like they did with Clash of the Titans).

What do you think folks? Would you watch this one?

GUEST POST: The Flix List – Six hack directors working in Hollywood today

By Ted Saydalavong

So what is the true definition of a hack? We hear that a lot from film critics and fans alike. Well to me, a hack is someone who works on projects solely for financial reasons, rather than creative reasons. It is not about a filmmaker who is simply bad, well let me correct myself, some directors are just plain bad. However, I believe that some directors on this list do have some talents but for whatever reasons they tend to stay in their comfort zone and some just don’t have any talents at all, besides knowing how to shoot and edit action scenes together. I’ll also name a couple of directors who thinks they’re talented but in reality they’re pretty bad at what they’re doing.

Here’s my list of hack directors, in no particular order:

1. Tony Scott
Yes, Ridley’s little brother is on this list. I didn’t want to include him at first but then I tried to remember the last good film he made within the last four or five years and couldn’t think of one. In my opinion, the last good film he made was Spy Game back in 2001, after that it’s been a downhill slide for him. Again it’s hard for me to put him on this list, he made some very good films back in the 1990s, True Romance, Crimson Tide and Enemy of the States are some of my favorites from that decade. But then I looked at most of the films he made, Top Gun, Days of Thunder, Beverly Hills Cop 2, The Last Boyscout (this one is one of my favorite guilty pleasure flicks), Domino, Déjà vu, The Taking of Pelham 123 and recently the awful Unstoppable. I truly believe that he made those films for just the money and I’ll admit some of them were very entertaining but they all lacked creativity. Some will ask what about Man on Fire? Well I like that film but I just thought it was too much style and not enough substance. Had they followed the original script, the film might’ve been great.

2. Paul W.S. Anderson
I think I won’t get a lot of disagreement over Mr. Anderson, let’s face it this man is the ultimate YES man to the studios. Whenever they need to get a movie out fast and earn some quick cash, they call Mr. Anderson. For example, he was brought in to rewrite the script for Alien vs. Predators because Fox wanted to be more kid friendly and of course Mr. Anderson obliged and made a PG-13 rated Alien vs. Predators flick! Of course the movie was awful and after that I refuse to watch any films from this man. I don’t think this man has any talents at all besides shooting cool action scenes and made his actors look good on screen.

3. Brett Ratner
Ah yes Mr. Brett Ratner, where I should begin? Well let’s start with him declaring himself to be as good as Steven Spielberg after X-Men: Last Stand earned some big money at the box office. News flash Brett, people went to see an X-Men film because it’s an X-Men film, not because of you. Ratner is another YES man type; in fact he was brought in to finish up X-Men: The Last Stand after Bryan Singer decided to do Superman Returns. The original director who replaced Singer was Mathew Vaughn, but he left the project because he told the studio he couldn’t finish the film in time for a summer of 2006 release, Fox insisted that the film opens before Singer’s Superman. After Vaughn left, Fox called Ratner and he was more than willing to come in and finish it up for them. The movie of course was a big hit but in my opinion Ratner ruined it. Fox should’ve waited for Singer or gave Vaughn more time to finish it.

I do give Ratner some credits for trying to go out of his comfort zone; he directed Red Dragon and After the Sunset. Both films looked promising when I first saw the trailers but the final product didn’t turn out so well, maybe Ratner just doesn’t have the talent to actually tell a good story; I guess he should just stick to finishing up a film for Hollywood executives and his crappy Rush Hour films.

4. Michael Bay
Mr. Bay is the quintessential hack director; in fact he admitted that he only make films for 14 year old boys and large sum of money. Most of the actors who worked with him said he would places more importance on the visuals than on his characters and actor themselves. He does very few takes of intimate character driven scenes, as he prefers to spend more time on action sequences and visually interesting moments. He would tell his writers on his films that they should just write the boring part and when the action scene starts, just write down action scene goes here.

He was given a great script, The Island, by Steven Spielberg but somehow he turned it into a boring chase movie. I saw both of his Transformers films but all I could remember from those films were people running and giant robots fighting, I don’t think there’s a plot in either film. But I guess that’s the point, people wants to see explosions and giant robots fight one another; Bay delivered and made quite a bit of money from it.

5. Richard Kelly
Now here’s one of the directors who I think doesn’t have much of a talent yet he kept getting money from studios to make his ridiculous films. I think Kelly is one of the most pretentious hack directors in Hollywood today, seriously I can’t stand any of his films, and luckily there are only three of them. He came up with all these high concept ideas and never delivered, for example The Box has a very cool concept and it was quite good until the second half of the film fizzled into sci-fi non-sense. Donnie Darko was a high concept idea and again Kelly made it into another sci-fi non-sense, same with Southland Tales<, probably one of the worst films of 2000s. With the box office failure of The Box, we may never get to see a new film from Mr. Kelly again ever and I’m fine with that. There are tons of great talents in Hollywood and the executives should spend their money on making films from those people than from this pretentious hack. Yeah I know I really despise this guy.

6. M. Night Shyamalan
M. Night started out great with The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable (one of my favorite films from 2000s, I lost count of how many times I’ve watched it). Then after the release of Signs in 2002, Time magazine put him on their cover and named him the next Steven Spielberg, ever since then it’s been a downhill for this man. The Village was bad and then after an ugly divorce from Disney, he made an even worse film, Lady in the Water for Warner Bros and it tanked at the box office.  I wouldn’t even dare to watch The Happening or last summer’s The Last Airbender. I would put him in the same category as Richard Kelly, he thinks he’s talented but in the end he’s just a hack with limited talents and somehow was able to trick the Hollywood executives to give him a lot of money to make his crappy films.

Honorable Mentions:


McG, Len Wiseman, Stephen Sommers, Peter Hyams (he hasn’t done a film for a while but he’s definitely a hack back in the 80s and 90s) and John McTiernan (his last good film wasHunt for Red October).

I was going to put JJ Abrams on this list but so far I only saw two of his films, one good (Star Trek), one bad (M: I-3), I’ll wait and see how his new film Super 8 turns out before I call him a hack.


So what do you think? Do you agree that these guys are a bunch of hacks or you think they’re talented? Feel free to discuss and list your own names of hack directors.