Robert Tanitch reviews the latest DVDs
THE MUSKETEERS (BBC). Everybody loves D’Artagnan, Athos, Porthos and Aramis and Cardinal Richelieu is everybody’s favourite villain. Adrian Hodges’ contemporary take with much younger actors may be trivial and historically absurd. Aramis sleeps with the Queen and fathers Louis XIV. (Mon dieu!) The script may be crass. The modernity of the dialogue and its ideas (such as views on slavery and women’s education) may jar. But the production, always on the move, has panache. It knows exactly what it is doing in its larky, tongue-in-cheek, swashbuckling, fisticuff, pistol-shooting way and it is a lot of fun. I am not surprised there is going to be a second series.
THE HOBBIT. THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG (MGM). The quest goes on and on and on. Will the Ring cycle never end? The second in this series is better than the first. The actors (Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman et al) all play a supporting role in director Peter Jackson’s much over-extended epic. The New Zealand scenery, the production values and the digital effects are all spectacularly amazing. One high spot is the dwarves escaping their enemies by barrels along the rapids, a bumpy comic ride. The enormous dragon (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) is the best dragon since Shrek but, of course, he’s not nearly so friendly.