The Musketeer (2001)

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"As you've never seen it before!"

Reviewed by James Holloway

Director: Peter Hyams
Stars: Catherine Deneuve, Stephen Rea, Tim Roth, Mena Suvari, Justin Chambers

Bad Movie Mecca Keywords: So bad it hurts, Senseless waste of solid potential, Incomprehensible, Unnecessary pathos/angst, pitiful attempts at cool, unacceptable pretensions

    90% of all bitching about this movie could be based on its total lack of resemblance to the novel. Discard those here; it's like shooting fish in a barrel. It's "based on" the novel in that one of the screenwriters maybe once rested a drink on a copy of the book. Ahem. So: young D'Artagnan (this appears to be his first name, since his parents call him that, even though it's presumably their name as well) witnesses his father and mother cruelly murdered by the Joker - er, sorry, by Tim Roth. His father's servant, Planchet, trains him to be a Jedi like his father before him, and off they trot to Paris where the Musketeers are out of favour with the crown, and ... oh, the hell with it. He meets a girl, he gets caught up in intrigue, they stage a daring rescue, Richelieu plots to assassinate the Queen, D'Artagnan rallies the dispirited musketeers, they stage another daring rescue, and everyone lives happily ever after.
    But you know what? It kind of makes sense when you say it like that. Trust
me, it doesn't in the film.

What's wrong with it?

    Horrible, horrible, painfully horrible acting and dialogue. Gibberish nonsense plot. Lack of distinction between supporting characters. Macho silliness.

What's right with it?

    Some of the fight scenes, including one in which a bunch of guys on horseback chase a fleeing coach, are kind of cool - they're done wuxia-style, which is a little incongruous. There's a mildly funny joke about an alligator in the Paris sewers.

How bad is it really?

    Painfully bad. Particularly the very beginning and the very end, with the painful-awful dialog. And the opening credits, oh the opening credits.

Best bit:

    Uh, hmmm. hem. Mm. Maybe the coach-chase thing.

What's up with...?


Production values: costumes and sets actually look pretty OK. 8

Dialogue and performances: this is where it falls down. Godawful. Talented actors phoning it in, and an untalented lump of soap-opera buttsteak trying his hardest. 18.

Plot: not much of one. 15.

Randomness: high. In particular, Planchet pulls out some piece of secret-agent gear whenever it's needed. Odd. 15.

Waste of potential: I think there may never be a good film of the Three Musketeers, but I was hoping for a little better than this. 15.

Overall: 71%


DNA (1997)

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"Don't mess with Mother Nature"

Directed by
Starring Mark Dacascos, Jürgen Prochnow and Robin McKee

Bad Movie Mecca Keywords: So bad it hurts, Blatant knock-off, Incomprehensible

    Dr Carl Wessinger (Prochnow) comes to a remote clinic in Borneo, to find Dr Ash Mattley (Dacascos). Mattley - who was, of course, raised by a local tribe and taught their kung fu - once almost developed an enzyme that would cure all diseases, but could not replicate it. Wessinger claims he can, but that he needs one of the beetles Ash extracted the enzyme from in the first place to do it. Ash takes him to the site where the beetles live in an ancient temple to a towering demon-god named Balacau, where Wessinger double-crosses him (Jürgen Prochnow! The bad guy! Never!) and leaves him for dead.
    Flash forward three years, and Ash is still a remote jungle doctor (because despite being evil, Wessinger was not thorough), only now with long and unhygienic hair, and local people keep getting their spines ripped out by a mysterious assailant. Enter a snooty CIA field operative Claire Sommers (McKee, playing the least convincing field operative in history), who tells him that Wessinger was working for them, but has gone rogue and intends to sell his genetic research to the highest bidder. Cut to some very Jurassic Park-y bits of Wessinger's team trying to recapture their creation, and Ash and Claire set off to find him. To cut a long story short, they do, and are then all stalked by a bit monster that looks like the Alien, except it's apparently stole the Predator's cloaking device. Oh; it also looks just like the Balacau statue, and is an alien, which Wessinger resurrected using the beetle enzyme.
    The bad guys all get killed - as does the token cute small child - and Ash has to go mano a talon with the beast, getting kitted out with warpaint and fightin' axe, then shooting it in the face with a grenade launcher.

What's wrong with it?

    Any good idea this film has is ripped off from somewhere else: Alien, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, and especially Predator, from which almost the entire last fifteen minutes is lifted whole cloth. The stuff they do seem to have come up with themselves - namely the magic beetle juice - just makes no damned sense. Prochnow phones it in as his stock Euro-baddie character, and the other actors universally suck. Intercutting with stock footage means that frequently helicopters change model two or three times while landing.

What's right with it?

    Absolutely nothing that springs to mind.

How bad is it really?

    It is not as bad as Sanctuary, but that's about the best that can be said for it.

Best Bit

    Once Wessinger has his beetles, he turns and shoots Dr Ash. We dared to hope.

What's up with...?


Production Values - The invisible alien is about the same level of special effect as Predator; which is worrying given that the film is about ten years older than this one. The lack of care given to the use of stock footage is also notable. 12

Dialogue and Performances - With Prochnow phoning this one in, there isn't a decent performance in the film. the dialogue is dire, and really deserves no better than it gets. 16

Plot and Execution - My God, what a pig's ear. The plot is all over the place, frankly looking for all the world as if they've just taped together pages from an assortment of other scripts. The direction is also second rate, and everything is either underlit or overlit. 17

Randomness - The whole damn plot is randomness. My goody-God but it makes no sense. With the beetles, and the mystery alien and all. What the hell? 16

Waste of Potential - The material in this film could - and lets face it, did - make several good movies. 15

Overall 76%


Split Second (1992)

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Directed by Tony Maylam and Ian Sharp
Starring Rutger Hauer, Neil Duncan and Kim Catrall

Bad Movie Mecca Keywords: So bad it's good, Incomprehensible, Violence, Big guns.

   Maverick US cop Holly Stone (Hauer), assigned to the Metropolitan Police Force in a flooded London, plagued by huge sewer rats, is haunted by the death of his partner and the serial killer he never caught. When he believes the killer has returned, he is partnered with clean cut, tight-buttoned, Oxford psych graduate Detective Dick Durkin (Duncan) to catch the man. Thing is, as hearts with giant tooth-prints in them start being delivered to the Police Station full of British character actors, it looks increasingly as though the killer is not a man at all.
    With time running out, and the late partner's widow, Michelle (Catrall) - also Stone's ex-lover - complicating things, the two mismatched plods must conquer their mutual antagonism, load up on caffeine, sugar, and really big guns, and go down into the flooded Underground to kill the beast that would be Satan.

What's wrong with it?

    Well, Rutger Hauer for a start, acting as wooden as ever, bless him. Also Kim Catrall; much the same. The plot is a little spotty, and the big monster isn't really explained at any point (unless it is Satan).

What's right with it?

    The transformation of the buttoned-down Durkin into a highly-caffeinated bundle of neuroses like Stone is a joy to behold. The film is sharp and funny, and the support playing - by the usual pack of British character actors, including an about to be famous Pete Postelthwaite - is actually pretty good. There are also big fucking guns.

How bad is it really?

    If you don't own this film, you should buy it. Seriously. It's trash, but it's just so good.

Best bit?

    Where to start? There's the hysterical Superintendent (Alun Armstrong) asking if they want an APB put out on Lucifer, or Dick Durkin trying to shoot the rat with an assault shotgun ("You shot my kitchen, that's what!").

    Or there's the exchange:
    "I'm surprised you don't have a grenade launcher."
    "Couldn't get a permit."

    But ultimately, the prize must belong to the "we need bigger f*@king guns" scene, as our heroes get hyper on coffee and chocolate and tool up for a showdown with evil.
    "Now, we get bigger guns."

What's up with...?


Production Values - Actually pretty shiny, if not too excessive. The monster just looks like a guy in a big rubber suit, but isn't on display too much. 8

Dialogue and Performances - The dialogue is actually pretty snappy. Hauer and Catrall both have the delivery of a cricket bat, but for what it's worth, Catrall give a career best, and Hauer only tops this performance with Blade Runner. Neil Duncan really steals the show as Detective Dick "That wasn't a him, that was a f*@king it!" Durkin, closely followed by Alun Armstrong's harried commissioner. 7

Plot and Execution - Better than most by a considerable margin, although the direction does tend a little towards the dark and invisible. 11

Randomness - Enough that the film stops making sense about half-way through, but also the right kind that you stop caring at pretty much the same point. 10

Waste of Potential - Hell no. This is - without question - the single best film ever made about angry, hyperactive cops chasing a giant, Satanic rat-mutant that has been terrorising a flooded London in the aftermath of global warming. 0

Overall 35%