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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    English
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Featurette - Making The Stunts
  • Animated menus
  • 6 Interviews - Peter Hyams, Tim Roth, Justin Chambers, Catherine Deneuve, Nick Moran, Mena Suvari

The Musketeer

Magna/Magna . R4 . COLOR . 104 mins . M . PAL

  Feature
Contract

The Musketeer had a brief stint in the cinemas in early 2002, and has quickly wound up on DVD. Never actually seeing the ’90s version of The Three Musteteers (“what?” I hear you say) this film does deliver a high entertainment level.

The fight sequence choreography is from Xin-Xin Xiong, a Hong Kong martial arts legend, and director Peter Hyams wanted to bring across the western feel of the movie to an eastern influence, and bring across the eastern influence into the western, to create a film in between these two extremes. The fight sequences are nothing new – recently seen in mainstream films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The Matrix - but are still entertaining to watch, with some new ideas used, and surrounding props used much like in a WWF wrestling match.

Hyams also was the cinematographer and he has captured some truly beautiful scenes of Europe. Camera angles and techniques such as mounting the camera on props and the like looks great for this genre of film, and adds tension to the fight sequences. But hey, the film isn’t all about fighting. The dialogue is reasonable, with some predictable one-liners, but enough to keep the audience amused. This film is nothing terribly brilliant, but still quite entertaining nonetheless.

D’Artagnan witnessed his parents’ murder when he was a boy, and from then on had two aims in life – one, to become a Musketeer like his father, and two – to avenge the slaying of his parents. This introductory sequence then follows D’Artagan, now a young man played by Justin Chambers, and his quest to fulfil his two aims in life. But his parents' killer, Febre (Tim Roth), is still creating evil mayhem committing murders and mad plans and must be stopped. It is up to D’Artagan to slay Febre before Febre destroys France.

  Video
Contract

The video is presented in a widescreen aspect of 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

For the duration of the film, the image is reasonably sharp, and only softens on the odd occasion. This isn’t terribly distracting, but is more noticeable during the dark scenes, which there are many of.

Speaking of dark scenes, mention must be made of the blacks. This disc really shows off the do’s and don’ts of DVD so well. Firstly at times the blacks are solid and rich. Then, at other times, the blacks are blue. And we’re not talking about black with a hint of blue, at 28:32 they are a deep mess of black with a blue wash. And then the blacks get worse (if that can be), with messy solid blacks that appear to bleed. They are too deep and don’t fit in at all with the rest of the picture. Rather than having a figure walking around covered in a shadow, there is a black blob moving around with no definition. It is bearable to start with, as we all remain hoping things will change. But alas, no change comes. These blobs continue to dance around on the screen, and this just detracts so much from the action, and the dialogue, on screen. The shadow detail that accompanies these blobs is very poor, with absolutely no definition. OK, so there we have a clear 'don’t' – watch the blacks!

The colours that are seen are bright and rich, including crisp reds, deep blues (not the black/blue) and lifelike greens with absolutely no sign of bleeding. And there we have a really big 'do'. The only thing to watch is the luminousity of the blues – at 36:04 on the feather on a hat, the blue feathers scream “fluorescent” and this doesn’t exactly fit into the period of the film. So there we have another 'don’t'.

Throughout the film there is some minor aliasing occurring on and off. The usual culprits are there such as rooftops and the introductory text at 52:05 and 0:10 respectively. These are fairly minor cases, but are apparent nonetheless. Another 'don’t' of DVD.

The film has an very slight grain over the entire image, which is not at all distracting and is barely noticeable. This is a really big 'do'. Film artefacts are similar, with only one or two black flecks whizzing past as the film runs past. Not a totally clean transfer, but still very good all the same. There are one or two small cases of MPEG artefacts, notably at 24:07 on the pillar and 46:42 on the red backdrop. These aren’t terribly annoying, but just apparent as they occur in fairly busy areas of the frame.

There is one subtitle track, and that is English. The subtitles are fairly accurate, and are clear with a white font and black outline. Being a dual-layered disc there is a layer change... somewhere. That just shows how good it was. This is also a very big 'do'.

  Audio
Contract

There are two audio tracks supplied for the film – a Dolby Digital 5.1 English and a Dolby Digital 2.0 English. The 5.1 track is easily the best to listen to, as it offers a richer, more enveloping sound. However, the 5.1 track doesn’t come without its problems.

While listening to the 5.1 track, three small faults can be heard. These faults consist of the audio quickly dropping out, just enough to create a small stutter. These occur at 36:50, 40:51 and 60:20. They repeatedly occur after rewinding and watching again and again, and only occur on the 5.1 track – not the 2.0 track.

Other than that, the 5.1 track sounds great – except for the surrounds. Often surrounds are incredibly quiet and subdued, but these are full on. They are both discrete with different effects flying at you from all angles, and that is a good thing. But the bad part is that they are too loud. Even after turning the surrounds down, they are too loud, and then after turning them down again, they are still too loud. They carry superb effects, but just distract so much from the front end of the soundstage and more importantly from the on-screen action. This is a big 'don’t' of DVD. The subwoofer is great, but at times you can’t help but think that the soundtrack relies too much on it. Rather than the odd effect here and there to create an atmosphere, the subwoofer is used to carry horses hooves and coaches and props like that which just rumble away the entire film. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but just, well, personally the subwoofer should add to the present sound effects, not make the couch move.

The 2.0 track has no apparent flaws, but just sounds very flat and hollow. After switching from the 5.1 track to the 2.0 track, you can really hear the difference.

The dialogue is reasonably clear throughout, with some quiet phrases during the action sequences.

  Extras
Contract

The open sequence to the main menu is very reminiscent of Village Roadshow titles and looks superb – the best effort seen to present from Magna Pacific. The menu is incredibly slick and is 16x9 enhanced.

The extra features are reasonably poor, with nothing standing out as anything terribly special. The Theatrical Trailer is good at telling the story, and advertising the stunt sequences. It runs for 1:59 and is framed at 1.85:1, but is not 16x9 enhanced. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0. The Making the Stunts documentary is poor and runs for 2:40. It appears to be an Internet feature that advertises the film more than anything else. It is presented in a full frame format of 1.33:1. The Cast and Crew Interviews are the longer versions of the edited interviews in the brief documentary. The numbers in brackets refer to the length of the interviews. Interviewees are Justin Chambers (1:55), Tim Roth (1:22), Nick Moran (1:05), Catherine Deneuve (1:32), Mena Suvari (1:31) and Peter Hyams (2:17). They are all presented in a full frame aspect and feature Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

  Overall  
Contract

This film is worth a hire, perhaps then you can decide if you would like to purchase it. The video is appallingly poor, and the audio is reasonably good, but the extras are not special at all.


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      And I quote...
    "...This disc really shows off the do’s and don’ts of DVD so well..."
    - Martin Friedel
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Nowa DS-8318
    • TV:
          TEAC 68cm CTV
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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