The Films of Peter Hyams
Goodnight, My Love
The Star Chamber
End of Days
The Musketeer (September 5/01)
With The Musketeer, Alexandre Dumas' novel The Three Musketeers returns to the big screen for this umpteenth adaptation. But aside from a few creative wrinkles, this is just the same old story - as the film follows D'Artagnan (Justin Chambers) as he finds himself caught up in a complex story of intrigue and danger. Directed by Peter Hyams, The Musketeer certainly looks like no other adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' classic ever has. Nothing is pretty in Hyams' world - bedrooms are dirty, tunnels are dank, and pubs are downright unsanitary. And to make all these places look even grungier, Hyams' has chosen to use natural lighting for most scenes. A sequence that finds the Musketeers skulking in a pitch-black tunnel has been lit only with the torches carried by the characters on screen. The style of this movie is almost more compelling than the content. When you get right down to it, though, this is just a talky drama. Aside from a few brilliant action sequences, The Musketeer often resembles one of those low-budget historical chamber pieces you might find on PBS. The acting is uniformly good - Tim Roth, cast as an evil henchman, steals every single one his scenes - with the only real weak spot acting-wise being the lead. As D'Artagnan, Chambers is competent - he delivers his dialogue without fail and can leap about real good - but there's no fire in his eyes. This is a character that watched his parents die in front of him; he should be incredibly emotional and reckless. But as played by Chambers, all these amazing events that are occurring around him seem to have the same effect on him as a slice of cake. But those action sequences - the movie is almost worth seeing just for the final duel between Chambers and Roth - are stunning. Much has been made of the fact that the action choreographer also worked on The Matrix. But there's no obvious wire kung-fu here, just some kinetic, ballet-like action scenes. The Musketeer is an ambitious failure. With its booming score by David Arnold and sweeping camera shots, it's obviously Hyams' attempt at an old-fashioned swashbuckling adventure. And while it mostly doesn't succeed, the few sword fights make this worth a trip to the theatre on a Tuesday.
A Sound of Thunder
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (May 18/11)
After a run of disappointing efforts like The Musketeer and A Sound of Thunder, Peter Hyams bounces back with an entertainingly absurd thriller that boasts several genuinely exciting interludes and an expectedly riveting performance from Michael Douglas. The film follows struggling reporter C.J. Nicholas (Jesse Metcalfe) as he becomes convinced that the local district attorney (Douglas' Michael Hunter) has been planting evidence to secure his convictions, which eventually leads C.J. to frame himself as a murder suspect to catch Hunter in the act. It's an almost jaw-droppingly ludicrous premise that is, for the most part, employed to better-than-expected effect by Hyams, there's little doubt that the movie does take a while to wholeheartedly get going - as Hyams offers up an underwhelming, thoroughly meandering opening half hour that's exacerbated by the film's palpably low-rent atmosphere (ie it's rather obvious that Hyams didn't have a tremendous amount of money to work with). The less-than-engrossing vibe persists right up until C.J. begins setting his plan into motion, after which point it becomes more and more difficult to resist the inherently compelling nature of the film's unabashedly outrageous narrative (ie the viewer is essentially forced to abandon all logic and embrace the ridiculousness of Hyams' screenplay). And although the movie does run out of steam towards the end as C.J.'s lawyer girlfriend (Amber Tamblyn's Ella Crystal) launches her own investigation, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt generally comes off as an above average thriller that seems to have been unfairly dismissed by most critics.