Tuesday, August 30, 2022

The Three Musketeers Review

Muskets not Mouse-kets

Four Musky Bois

What is it about?

Tonight's nostalgia pic is "The Three Musketeers" (Disney, 1993). In the early 1600s, France is on the brink of war with England thanks to the manipulation of the ambitious Cardinal Richelieu (played by a disappointingly subdued Tim Curry). An adventurous young man named d'Artagnan (Chris O'Donnell) seeks to follow in his father's footsteps and become one of the king's personal army, known as the "musketeers." d'Artagnan arrives to a Paris in turmoil after the musketeers are disbanded only to be replaced by the Richelieu's personal guard. The ever-confrontational d'Artagnan soon picks fights with three locals, the brooding Athos (Kiefer Sutherland), the boisterous Porthos (Oliver Platt), and the cunning Aramis (Charlie Sheen), only to side with them discovering that they are rogue musketeers fighting for the king's interests. Together the four uncover a conspiracy between Richelieu, his conniving cycloptic general Rochefort (Michael Wincott), and the mysterious Milady DeWinter (Rebecca De Mornay). Can the young man and the three musketeers save France and the King?

Jeez, just ham it up already!

My first impressions

So… Why is this a bad movie? Well, it isn't: It's very adventurous, the production values are high, and while the acting is… Let's just say "questionable…" The cast is among some of the very well-known personalities and rising stars of the time. The action is plentiful, the swashbuckling is exciting, and the whole film just oozes adventure. For the most part, even the death scenes are tasteful and downplayed, making this a mostly family friendly adventure despite is large body count (be aware that there's one scene between Porthos and an ugly dungeon worker that is somewhat bloody and on-screen). The whole adventure ends on a happy note with the bad guys meeting their just rewards and the kingdom restored.

Pictured: Not Robin.

My opinion

Bad movie? No, but do you know what this is? It's a very bad adaptation. I have read "The Three Musketeers" by Alexander Dumas, and after seeing movies like this one my entire life, I was shocked at how different the book of the collected serial stories is. For one thing, character motivations between the book and this film are similar, but not the same. The character of Milady in particular is much more sinister and villainous, even killing d'Artagnan's love interest, Constance, at one point (the character of Constance lives in the film). Her execution in the book is carried out without mercy, while in the film she's a much more sympathetic character. Richelieu's plot is also more layered, involving subterfuge from a tryst between the French queen and England's duke of Buckingham, which is never a plot thread in the movie. Also, in the book Richelieu is mostly left unpunished (because the rich and powerful seldom are). The book ends on a somewhat dark note completely absent from any media adaptation I have ever seen.

This one's for "Backdraft!"


So should you watch it? Yeah sure, why not? It's far from essential viewing, cinematic gold, or even a must-see, but it is an action-packed adventure film with a lot of humor and daring-do, so if you're in the mood for a popcorn flick you could do a lot worse (but also a lot better).

"I'm Platt-man!"

Where can I find it?

"The Three Musketeers" is currently streaming on Disney+.

My Doctor-eight! Get it? Doctor eight? No?

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Man In Space

 "Hey kids! Do you want to see a color program about the history of space travel?"


"Do you want to see some humorous animations of what our American astronauts can expect from life in zero gravity!"


"Do you want to see a serious look at an actual space mission might entail?"


"Do you want to see known members of the Nazi party, well-fed and walking around freely thanks to Operation Paperclip?"

"Yea -- wait, what was that last one?"

Walt Disney at his desk
"Damn minorities."

Yes kids, tonight's nostalgic pick is "Man In Space" (Disney, 1955), a television program about space travel from a time before that existed. This was part of the Disney series of television specials back when the show was known as "Disneyland." Unlike a lot of the other Disneyland programs streaming on Disney+, someone had the foresight to upload the color version (even though it wouldn't have been seen in color during the original broadcast). It is divided into three segments: 

The first part of the program is a look at the development of rocket technology from ancient China (with a very brief and very racist segment) and gunpowder propulsion to the development of the modern liquid-fuel rocket technology. This bit is bookended by a discussion of rocket physics with Willy Ley, a German scientist who was not a member of the Nazi party.

Landing on the moon

Racist caricature of a Chinese man, circa 1955
Can you hear the music playing here?

The trajectory of a V2 rocket
Pictured: Actual science.

German (probably not a Nazi) scientist Willy Ley
German, but not a Nazi.

The second portion is a discussion of space medicine and the effects of outer space might have on a pioneer astronaut. I have to admit, this segment made me laugh (it has a lot of "Goofy" energy). This is mostly done with a cartoon narrated by known enthusiastic member of the German Nazi party and all-around human scumbag Heinz Haber (seriously, read up on the guy). 

Cartoon of a weightless man in space
Narrated by a Nazi. Seriously.

The third and final segment is a lavishly painted (but barely animated) cartoon about what the first mission to space might look like. Its… Ambitious to say the least. It does remarkably resemble a space shuttle mission from the 1980s-2000s, and is eerily accurate for predating those expeditions, but in retrospect it seems a bit like putting the cart before the horse (the mission doesn't really resemble the spacewalks before the space shuttle missions, yet the program predicts that they will preempt a moon mission). This last portion of the program is hosted by (supposedly reluctant) member of the Nazi party Werner von Braun (still an actual member of the Nazi party, though).

Werner von Braun, actual Nazi.
Pictured: Actual Nazi, Werner von Braun.

Spaceship rockets into orbit.
Short on animation, beautiful art, though.

Spacecraft in orbit.
Pictured: Not the space shuttle.

So, I'm torn on this one: On the one hand, this is a well-constructed, very informative, and absolutely prophetic vision of what mankind's first steps into space might (and in fact, did) look like. On the other hand, the cost of achieving this knowledge meant our government had to placate and cater to men associated with one of the most unapologetically evil regimes in recorded history (I suppose that's nothing new -- or past -- either). Of course, this is not at all brought up in the program, nor is there an explanatory placard at the start of the program explaining the "it was a different time" B.S. Was it the right call? I don't know, but it's enough to make me question whether or not I can recommend what should have been a slam-dunk "must-see."

"Man in Space" is currently streaming on Disney+, if you want to wrestle with morality.