Friday, September 5, 2014

COUNTDOWN TO DRACULA UNTOLD: ReCAP: THE THREE MUSKETEERS

Hello and welcome to our whatever installment of Countdown to Dracula Untold, a project Molly Harper and Jeanette Battista started to indulge in two of their favorite things: vampires and Luke Evans. We’re recapping vampire movies AND Luke Evans movies in anticipation of the ultimate Luke Evans/Vampire movie—Dracula Untold. Join us every Friday for our celebration of the good, the bad, and the fanged.
This week’s burnt offering from Jeanette is:
The Three Musketeers (2011 edition)
I love the book so hard that it deeply upsets me to see this movie. I mean, eye candy is very nice, but this story is missing most of what makes the book so freaking great. And it absolutely ruins one of the best villains—female or otherwise—in fiction.
You see, I adore Milady de Winter. She’s amazing at what she does, which is basically lie, cheat, steal, and kill. She’s got a secret she’s forced to hide that makes her what she is (there’s a whole chicken/egg thing with the crime and her conviction and scarring). She’s a powerful female who uses any weapon at her disposal—sex appeal, knives, connections—but her most formidable weapon is her mind. Her history with Athos is a powerful, palpable thing and fraught with emotion. She’s dangerous and sharp and at her most deadly when there ISN’T a weapon in her hand. And this movie just sort of makes her a joke. So if I gloss over most of the Milady scenes, that’s why.
A Ye Olde Timey map of Europe…Matthew Macfadyen gets us up to speed via voiceover with what’s going in “history” using some really fancy GI Joes.
Next we go to Venice where some fancy steampunky weaponry nonsense is taking place and we meet Athos. He likes steampunk diving ensembles. Then Milady pops up and makes out with Athos. Whatever. Do you have any idea how polluted the Venetian canals are?
Aramis is doing his best Batman impersonation. Batamis is played by Luke Evans. He attacks a gondola. He is also quite fine. Too bad this is the most interesting he will be in this entire movie. Shame.
Porthos is singing and pretending to be drunk. He’s chained up, but not for long because he’s the Hulk of this version of The Three Avengers or whatever. He rips his chains out of the wall, brains some Italian guards, and gets one of the three keys to da Vinci’s vault.
Apparently Milady is on the Musketeers’ side. Um, no. She Indiana Jones’ her way through the trap because she’s so awesome (sarcasm noted) because she’s like magic or whatever. They are after the plans for a flying ship. Athos blows up the ceiling and the canal comes rushing in. Athos and Milady heave at each other for a little while and we cut to some fancy palazzo.
Milady shows her true colors and betrays the Musketeers with drugged wine to Lord Buckingham, played by Orlando Bloom with a serious pompadour and epic facial hair. He mocks Athos—which no one does and gets away with it—and gloats over the war blimp. Evil laughter. Ha. Ha.
In some bucolic countryside, Logan Lerman does some fancy sword fighting with his pops. He’s D’Artagnan who I will now be calling D’Umbass. He’s also about five feet tall. He’s like a pocket Musketeer. His dad sends him to Paris with a horse and cue bragging by the young idiot and blahblahblah, I don’t care. He’s the douchiest douche who ever douched. On horseback.
He enters a town and I just found a reason to care: Mads Mikkelsen is playing Rochefort and he has an eyepatch. Sweet Lord. Thank you, Jesus. D’Umbass provokes him and I really want Mads to wipe the floor with him. He shoots D’Umbass (YES!) in the inevitable manly shoulder wound trope, but before he can run D’Umbass through, Milady pops up and saves his ass. Damn. They do not, however, sleep together as they did in the book which leads to him finding the brand on her shoulder and leads to her trying to kill him a LOT. Sigh.
If you haven’t guessed, I am Team Athos and Team Rochefort. I have always been irritated by D’Artagnan’s earnestness.
D’Umbass runs into Athos, literally, while trying to catch up with Rochefort. They settle on noon for a duel. He then runs into Porthos, insults him, and sets up a duel for one o’clock. All that we have left to do is offend Aramis, who has become the French version of a meter maid. He gives D’Umbass a ticket (completely different than the book) and D’Umbass challenges him to a duel at two. God, I really hate this little pissant.
Cut to Cardinal Richelieu, aka The Red Duke, meeting with Milady. They talk about Buckingham’s Blimp and then get interrupted by the Idiot King who is more interested in fashion than running a country. The king throws a hissy over his pantaloons and trollops away.
D’Umbass and his duels. God, I hate the way Logan plays him. Or the director interpreted him. Whatever, he’s a giant douche. Athos is so over D’Umbass’ shit that he’s actually in Spain. They are interrupted by the Cardinal’s guards, so all four of them have to fight off like 800 guards. Rochefort pops up (Hey, gurrrrl) and D’Umbass goes all psycho hosebeast and decides to fight everyone. Please shoot him.
Pretty blonde girl watches. Finally the Musketeers Three decide to join in the fun and Rochefort gallops away and I rapidly lose interest in the burgeoning bromance between Athos and D’Umbass, only paying attention to Luke Evans and his fine self. D’Umbass starts flirting with the blonde from earlier and Luke Evans does something acrobatic with a wagon. And then he prays over the bodies of the men he’s killed. It’s kind of hot.
Stop judging me.
D’Umbass will be insufferable now that he’s won a fight. Blondie is named Constance and drops some Parisian shade on the poor little dimwit. The three men and the imp wander the streets of Paris. They all decide to be roomies. Athos gets his bitter on. Aramis is wearing adorable glasses and I pause the screen for REASONS. A lot of philosophy is thrown around about wars and battles and more manly angst and pain than you can shake a stick at.
Cardinal and Idiot King play chess. Buckingham is arriving tomorrow. The Cardinal wants our three Musketeers and the imp punished for brawling with his guards. The king minces into the room in a ridiculous hat. The Queen pops up, along with Constance as her lady in waiting, and pleads prettily for the Musketeers. The King decides a makeover is in order for their punishment—which if they wind up dressing like him, is quite the punishment. The Queen shuts the Cardinal down like whoa which earns her the enmity of the Red Duke.
He plans to frame the Queen for an affair with Buckingham and fills Milady in on the role she’s to play in starting war between England and France.
The parade. Mads and his cheekbones glare at D’Umbass while the shadow of the war blimp falls over the assembled soldiers. Orlando Bloom pops out like a stripper from a cake (and dressed just as garishly) and proceeds to twirl his mustache all over the place. His hair is doing more acting than he is.
Cardinal and Buckingham talk war while Milady does her superspy thing and plants evidence and steals the Queen’s jewels to make it appear as though she and Buckingham are having an affair. Milady undresses after fighting some idiot guards because it is really hard to break into a super secure vault fully clothed. As one does.
D’Umbass gets shot down while Milady vogues on top of a statue. Cut to the Idiot King asking D’Umbass for love advice. Because he must be truly desperate. Nobody cares about this C-plot.
Can we get back to sword fighting now?
After a really intricate trap involving wires and jewelry (which begs the question how does the Queen get to her own necklace with all that shit? Oh never mind, PLOT CONTRIVANCE), Milady sets off on her evil plans of EVIL. The Cardinal gives her a letter for her teacher that excuses her from class any and all actions which we’ll note for later. Off she goes with Buckingham.
One of the Queen’s serving maids discover the planted letters and goes to the King  who runs to the Cardinal. The Queen is going to wear the diamond necklace, only to discover it is gone. The Queen confronts the Cardinal over his dastardly deeds and he smarms at her. Off she goes. Tears. Please note, in the book, she actually is having an affair with Buckingham and does give him two of her diamond tags. Bad form, Book Anne.
Constance decides to find the Imp and enlists the help of D’Umbass and the Three Musketeers. D’Umbass makes it sound all dire, but we all know it feeds his ego, especially when Constance kisses him. Aramis rolls out his weapons in time for Rochefort to order their deaths.
I’m just going to marinate in Mads standing there with his cheekbones and eyepatch. Carry on.
Oh God. He has a ponytail. Damn. It’s like A Royal Affair all over again.
Something about boats and a ruse and I don’t care because I’m still thinking about that ponytail.
Blahblahblah plancakes.
Orlando Bloom, his hair, and his pantaloons get his freak on as he and Milady lie to each other handily. It’s pretty gross.
D’Umbass is the wild card. Please, Athos, don’t encourage the imp. His ego is already unbearable.
Luke Evans is adorable in his peasant cloak. D’Umbass passes for the littlest Beefeater. Seriously, the kid’s looks eleven years old. He’s captured, of course. Buckingham gets all obsessive about Athos and I’m feeling a love triangle coming on. I should really parse this movie as a gay romance.
The Musketeers steal the war blimp and Buckingham does his best Chow Yun Fat in The Killer and Athos sets everything on fire. He saves D’Umbass from falling to his death and they exchange a longing look while Buckingham screams in frustration. Yes, it reads much better as a gay love story.
Damn, the ponytail is back. I’ll be in my bunk.
Milady has the necklace. So they kidnap her carriage. She sulks. God, what a travesty. Such an amazing character and they have her sulking. I can’t even.
Athos and Milady have a lukewarm reunion for all that they were all hot and heavy in Venice. There’s more heat between D’Umbass and Athos than these two right now. You want to see heat, watch the version with Faye Dunaway as Milady. It’s slapsticky but she and Athos menace each other and sizzle in the most amazing way possible. Anyway, Athos is going to kill her (and here’s where I always get pissed off with adaptations because they NEVER do it the way it is done in the books where Athos is sick of her shit and hires the one man she can’t bribe to off her after she basically tries and nearly succeeds with her wiles with every one of the other three Musketeers in order to weasel out of death), but she leaps off the war blimp.
Athos looks constipated and says that she threw herself off the blimp because she knew he wouldn’t be able to live with himself and I call foul because that woman doesn’t have a generous bone in her body and she wouldn’t give a crap if Athos felt bad. She’d probably encourage it. And then watch. With popcorn.
Blahblahblah diamondcakes. The ball is tonight.
Meanwhile, back at the map… the war blimp is flying over some CGI.
Airship battle! Looks like Rochefort got himself a sweet ride. He’s also lashed Constance to the figurehead.
Athos and D’Umbass share a moment and I really think they should kiss right now. Anyway, D’Umbass offers a trade: himself and the diamonds for Constance. I’m fairly certain Rochefort is going to try on that necklace in the privacy of the Captain’s cabin. He likes to feel pretty.
I wonder if D’Umbass stands on a box when he has to kiss Constance. He’s shorter than everybody.
Fighty McAirFight.
Into the storm!
The Cardinal’s ship goes down as D’Umbass retrieves the necklace from Rochefort. Aramis and Porthos jump onto the other ship like crazed badgers. Athos rams their ship into Rochefort’s.
Rochefort gets the necklace back and tries to find a mirror to see how it looks on him. D’Umbass swoops down like Tarzan on meth and they fight on top of a cathedral.
And ponytail. And eyepatch. And sword. Hang on. I’ll be in my bunk.
Damn, Mads is hot when he’s choking a D’Umbass.
And then Mads is dead. I’m going to need a moment of silence for the ponytail.
It’s time for a ball! The Cardinal is losing his collective shit all over the garden when the airship lands in the middle of the party. Athos drops the note from Act II on the King and Cardinal. The Queen pops up, wearing her necklace and all is right with the world. Sure there’s some stuff with D’Umbass and Constance, but we all really know that Athos is hitting that later (with D’Umbass, not Constance).
Seriously, why was Luke Evans even in this thing? Not enough Luke Evans. Especially when he’s being all Batketeer on the rooftops. More of that, please. I have high hopes that Dracula Untold will have about 900% more Luke Evans. Oh, and did everyone see that the release date got moved up a week? Now it opens on October 10th!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Molly Harper (Author) ALS Ice Bucket Challenge



Answering the challenge of Maria C Garcia Sardinas, here is my ice bucket challenge, which I am doing with iced tea - because I can. 

I challenge Jeanette BattistaSherri Browning Erwin, Amanda Ronconi and Matt Harper. You have 24 hours!

Please go to http://www.alsa.org/donate/ to help the ALS Association fund research to diagnose and treat ALS.

Countdown to DRACULA UNTOLD: Recap: THE IMMORTALS

Once again, Jeanette Battista and Molly Harper devote our snarky attention to our favorite movies featuring Luke Evans and/or vampires in preparation for the release of DRACULA UNTOLD (Oct. 17). Today’s selection, THE IMMORTALS, is heavy on the Luke Evans, but not on the vampires. In fact, it’s only selling point is that Luke is basically running around in a gold mini-skirt diaper thing smoldering so hard, I felt sorry for his face muscles.

We open on what looks like an overdone piece of performance art in one of those galleries where you can’t sit on anything for fear that it’s an exhibit. A bunch of guys in weird gold fetish gear are trapped in a box, mouths clamped onto metal bars so they look like a life-size foosball table.  The music is very dramatic and they are growling, so you can tell that it’s an evil foosball table.

Someone shoots an electric bow and arrow into the foosball table and something explodes. A pretty lady (Freda Pinto) springs up from the futon she shares with three other women (which cannot be comfortable sleeping arrangements). It seems that the foosball table sequence is a vision. The futon dwellers are a multicultural band of vestal virgins/seers and they see that Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) wants a magical bow to set the foosball table full of Titans free.

John Hurt tells a vague and inaccurate version of how Zeus and the Greek pantheon rose to power over the Titans, trapping them in the foosball table. Once again, I’m thrilled there are so many movies being based on Greek mythology, I just wish the producers/screenwriters would read some freaking myths before they start writing. As a lifelong student of Greek myth, this was like a root canal.

Hyperion is mad at the Gods for whatever makes Mickey Rourke mad, possibly that he is running out of the slightly ridiculous  decorative masks his character has worn in success since the credits started. He plans to use the bow and the Titans to overthrow the Gods and rule the world. Because of reasons.

Meanwhile, shirtless Theseus (Henry Cavill) is chopping wood.

Just take time to appreciate the moment.

And apparently, his mom, worships a super-sized head statue filled with candles. Clearly, this movie’s art director is a frustrated sculptor with neo-classic weirdo leanings.

Joseph Morgan disappoints his VAMPIRE DIARIES fans by playing someone super-shady, but not in the charming Klaus fashion. Seriously, I don’t really understand who he is and why he’s doing what he’s doing, I just know it makes Henry Cavill sad. And to further disturb the Klaroline shippers, Hyperion stomps on his crotch for his treachery.

Ouch. Effective. But ouch.

Hyperion is being an a-hole again. Theseus whips off his cape to reveal his super-well-defined muscles and capri pants and messes the enemy army up something fierce. It’s hard to look badass in capri pants. And then Roarke kills his mom.  Hero’s wound, INSTALLED!

John Hurt is revealed not to be any ordinary old man, but Zeus! King of the Gods! Man of the hour! Luke Evans in a gold diaper/mini-skirt thing.  

You read that right. Luke Evans. Gold diaper.  The whole pantheon is covered in gold as far as the eye can see! It’s like a Versace ad and Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth had an oil-spritzed, photogenic baby. 

Zeus heads up this super-hot Justice League of gods, including TWILIGHT’s Kellan Lutz as Poseidon (also in a gold diaper) and TEEN WOLF’S Daniel Sharman as Ares (that’s right, gold diaper). The group also includes Heracles, which, not to be a know-it-all here, but Heracles was not a god. He was a demigod hero.  Too many hot actors, not enough Greek gods, I guess.

Adding to my frustration is that you can’t really tell which actor is which god or goddess. Poseidon has a trident and a weird wire head sculpture that sort of looks nautilus-shaped, but that’s our only clue. So I had to keep looking at imdb to figure out who was who. Also, Daniel Sharman’s insane Mohawk headgear was particularly distracting.

Zeus forbids his kids from intervening in any way with Hyperion’s dickery unless the Titans are let loose from the evil foosball table. Because of rules. And anybody who disobeys his edict will be killed. I would argue that’s difficult considering, you know, the title of the movie is IMMORTALS. But what do I know?

Freida Pinto’s Phaedra and her sisters happen on Theseus outside of salt mine. And when she brushes up against him, she sees all kinds of visions about his potential.  I would probably do the same thing if I ever brushed up against Henry Cavill. But I would never ever tell people what I saw. Stephen Dorff gives his best 90s idol flirt, but doesn’t seem to realize how outmatched he is.

More bad shit happens. Theseus, Phaedra and Stephen Dorff escape. Phaedra doesn’t seem all that upset that the women she shared her futon with are missing.

Oh, good God, I’m only 40 minutes into this movie.

I’ll spare you the details, but Theseus gets the magic twinkling bow.  He broods. Phaedra binds his wounds with bandages and easily predicted sex.

Hyperion and his weird crab/hyena hat attack the wall that protects the magic mountain housing the evil foosball table. Poor Joseph Morgan suffers indignity after indignity.  Phaedra’s sisters are stuck in brazen bulls.

Meanwhile, Ares and Athena intervene to save Theseus and Zeus pitches a big hissy fit over it.  He kills Ares with a whip made of fire (Dramatic much?) and yells at Theseus for things that aren’t his fault.  Noticeably, Athena is left out of this punishment, which makes me think she’s Zeus’s favorite.

Hyperion continues being super-weird.  The politicians behind the giant wall try to negotiate with him, which goes very badly.  Very, very badly.

Swordfight, swordfight, swordfight.

Theseus gives the Greek version of the Braveheart speech.

Let me just say that when fighting a well-armed army, it’s always a good idea to do it in a long, narrow, dark tunnel.

Also, I question the historical accuracy of the enormous dam that protects the magic mountain… and Stephen McHattie’s super-sparkly cape.

Theseus kills a bunch of people. Stephen Dorff wishes he’d quit smoking a long time before filming as he struggles to keep up.

Hyperion finds the evil foosball table in what looks like Joel Schumacher’s basement.  He sets the Titans free, which means the gloves are off and the Gods can step in. Meanwhile, Theseus has gone deaf and Stephen Dorff has multiple compound fractures.

No, wait. Dorff is dead.  Because the Titans are basically human-shaped jackals.

Zeus sends Theseus after Hyperion while he and the Gods take on the Titans with all of the ninja turtle weapons. Several of the Gods are killed. Not to be judge-y, but this is where having Ares, the god of WAR, would have been helpful, Zeus.  Just sayin.

Theseus and Hyperion fight in the scary, violent manner only Mickey Rourke can manage.

Athena is killed and, again, is the only one Zeus liked, because he only stops to mourn her. He climbs on top of the evil foosball table and does some crazy bicep curl to destroy the mountain over Titans’ cage. Hyperion gloats long enough over Theseus for him to kill Hyperion. Classic mistake.

Zeus zips back up to Olympus with Poseidon, the last of the Gods to survive.  The mountain collapses on the remaining Titans, just as Theseus is similarly zapped up to the heavens.

Years later, John Hurt is seen tutoring a boy who looks an awful lot like Theseus and Phaedra. He touches Theseus’s tomb (which is covered with disturbing and historically questionable scenes of naked Hyperion and Theseus wrestling) and sees a huge war going on in the sky between the Gods and yet more Titans. Theseus is there, helping out Zeus and the other Gods. It’s actually a neat image, but much like the rest of this movie, it’s so busy and over-detailed that I can’t understand much of it.

Not enough Luke Evans in this movie. And definitely not enough vampires.