MUSKETEERS Athos, Porthos and Aramis are inseparable pals who live by the motto “One for all, all for one”.
But if you’re tempted to rent or buy THE THREE MUSKETEERS (12: Entertainment One), the latest take on Alexandre Dumas’s swashbuckling tale of 17th Century heroism, romance and friendship, you may change that to “One for all, and all for nowt!”
While it divided opinion during its cinema run, the majority included it in their list of the year’s worst films.
It beggars belief that millions are spent on witless productions like this digital re-working of Richard Lester’s 1973 version. Oliver Reed would be turning in his grave.
The open-minded may enjoy the outrageous liberties taken with the story, as well as the stunning costumes and Bavarian scenery. Yet at the end of the day the movie is notable only for its Terry Gilliam-esque airborne war machines based on designs by Leonardo da Vinci. These flying galleons provide some eye-catching aerial battles, but the main problem is with the casting.
Director Paul WS Anderson opted for actors rather than stars – and Logan Lerman and Orlando Bloom come across as neither. It’s hard to see how the insipid Lerman’s callow wannabe musketeer D’Artagnan could help restore the mojos of Matthew Macfadyen’s lovelorn Athos, Ray Stevenson’s larger-than-life Porthos and Luke Evans’ jaded Aramis.
Bloom is cast against type as the dastardly Duke of Buckingham and is acted off the screen by Milla Jovovich, whose cunning Milady de Winter uses her feminine wiles and fighting skills to survive in a man’s world.
> Family drama and high-tech sci-fi adventure are an uneasy mix in REAL STEEL (12:Disney), starring Hugh Jackman as a down-at-heel former fighter in a not-too-distant future where robot boxing has become the world’s biggest sport.
As he struggles to discover a new lean, mean fighting machine to take on his robot rivals and clear his mounting debts, Charlie Kenton (Jackman) finds himself saddled with the 11-year-old son he abandoned at birth.
Real-life boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard acted as consultant on the film, which helped director Shawn (Night At The Museum) Levy stage a handful of electrifying fight scenes. Unfortunately, there’s nothing particularly ground-breaking in terms of the special effects, with the robots little more than polite, lower-league Transformers.
Father-son exchanges between Jackman and Dakota Goyo press the right emotional buttons, but the sugar-coated life lessons are predictably delivered in a movie with few surprises.
> A mismatch of criminal minds raises the entertainment value in TOWER HEIST (12: Universal), a goofy, yet topical, action comedy in which downtrodden workers seek payback from a dodgy Wall Street trader.
A typically uptight Ben Stiller plays the manager of a Manhattan hotel who turns on penthouse resident Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) after he cons the staff out of their savings.
Eddie Murphy, echoing his role in Trading Places, is a petty thief employed by Stiller to help take back the millions hidden in Shaw’s suite.
They’re joined by a hangdog Matthew Broderick as an accountant-turned-squatter and Casey Affleck, who surprisingly steals the show as the dithering concierge.
Too much emphasis is placed on Shaw’s crimes, which steals time away from the actual heist, although there’s some impressive action in and around the skyscraper.
> MISS BALA (15: Metrodome), an uncompromising expose of Mexican drug cartels, and the corruption of those entrusted with busting them, is shocking in its grim authenticity and explosive stylisation.
Wannabe beauty queen Stephanie Sigman is caught in the crossfire between American DEA agents and the infamous Star gang and suddenly finds herself at the mercy of a ruthless drug lord (Noe Hernandez).
He helps her win a pageant with the aim of using her minor celebrity to get within striking distance of a crooked general and to smuggle arms and drugs to a US contact (James Russo).
Audacious long-take shoot-outs demonstrate how far violence has become part of everyday existence in Mexico.
> Wringing the last gasps from its exhausted found-footage premise, the things-that-go-bump-in-the-night in PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 (15: Paramount) are a tedious tease until a massive boost in the mad finale.
Like Paranormal Activity 2, this is also a prequel to the first film, but goes back even further, showing sisters Katie and Kristi traumatised by an “imaginary” playmate in 1988.
Their wedding-photographer dad sets up surveillance cameras to capture the source of the late-night disturbances.