Captain Alatriste - The Spanish Musketeer [DVD]
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Viggo Mortensen stars as Captain Alatriste, the Spanish Musketeer, in this tale of war, betrayal and intrigue in seventeenth-century Imperial Spain under the reign of the weak and easily manipulated King Felipe IV. Alatriste has returned to Spain to find it a very different place and life is not what it once was. As a last wish to a dying friend he agrees to take charge of the young Inigo Balboa (Unax Ugalde) and protect him from both a military career and the Machiavellian woman whom he desperately loves. Witness the adventures of Captain Alatriste as he endures great love and hatred intertwined with momentous battles and duels set in the epic backdrop of the sprawling Spanish Empire.
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On the plus side, the sets and scenery and costumes are fantastically real. No doubt when they were filming in the Palacio Real in Madrid-- they were there. If not then I am most surprised. The harquebuses, the swords, the perpetual presence of the main gauche blade-- all were required and all were present.
I only have modest Spanish so we used the English subtitles. The subtitles were sufficient. They lack the poetry of the English translation of these books, which have a fine style all in themselves; and yet they were adequate. They coincided well with the content and listening to the movie in Spanish is absolutely pleasurable and should be mandatory for the viewer. I loathe dubbing and this was mercifully not available.
Viggo was the best actor, as one might expect. The rest of the cast were fit and capable insofar as the abbreviated story structure allowed them to unfold. Unfortunately that was not as much as a reader of the series would desire. All in all then, unsatisfactory to a reader of the series but good enough to enjoy and wish for more. Another pass is highly desired!
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The actors generally performed well, the scenery was good, the costumes seemed convincing – in other words the look of, the film was reasonably convincing at the very least, although there was another aspect of this film that also let it down for me. The sound of the dialogue, which sounded like it was recorded after the filming, recorded in a studio that gave the sound of each actors dialogue the same kind of sound, regardless of whether they were in a tavern, a battlefield or a palace. The sound of the dialogue was somewhat incorrect, false or unconvincing.
Having said that, where dialogue was concerned, the English subtitles were very clear and easy to read (for anyone fluent in Spanish, the subtitles are not optional), they were the largest sized subtitles I have ever seen.
Clearly many have enjoyed this film, and if you are not put off by an incoherent narrative or poorly recorded dialogue you may well enjoy this film – unfortunately, I didn’t.
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Probably it helps if you are Spanish and have or will find deep feelings for this period of Spanish history. My knowledge of that period is mostly based on British history and the history behind French fiction such as Dumas. As I finished this movie, I realised there hadn't been a moment of humour of any kind. It really needed a few lighter moments but the gloom and problems were continual. Even the two love affairs, such as they are, are totally unsatisfying.
Many fight scenes are far far too long and monotonous. Often they do little to advance the plot and the plot is very slow-moving anyway, and worse, although I stuck with it for most of the film in th ehope something really interesting would happen other than just grindingly ugly fighting and war, grime and filth etc, in the end I lost patience and fast forwarded to see roughly what happened before the end, which really was much as it started.
There were two mild love interests if you are looking for that kind of thing but neither is cheerful. It's all really unremitting gloom.
So it really does depend what you want to see. This may be perfect for you and the movie is well made technically so far as I can see, and well acted, or it may be as I found it, a long and tedious piece of gloom. No way would I watch this again, so I'm getting rid of the DVD.
Viggo does a pretty good job as the said Alatriste,never a Cpt in rank but in experience and length of service.
Action is sparce and mainly of the one on one duelling kind although there is a couple of Battle scenes the main one of which is a very limited enactment of Rocroi but it does give a flavour of early 16th Century Combat
Allin all a good buy if you can get it cheap