So...I don't know. I'm a huge fan of the books, and so far have only seen the '82 version, which I like, despite some variances from the source text. Like, I always pictured Chauvelin as the older, suave type like Sir Anthony Hopkins or something chillingly creepy like that, but Sir Ian McKellen played the part well, though he was rather young, and to quote Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel, that's "a fault which time will cure" and has.
Anyway, so there's that.
I'm reading over the back blurb on the DVD case, and it's okay until we hit Marguerite. Played by Elizabeth McGovern (I know little of her, to begin with,) but they note that she was in The Wings of the Dove as if it were an accomplishment. That movie made me scorn Helena Bonham Carter forever, and I did not like any single character in that film, at all. So now I'm dubious about a film that seems to take sides with that catastrophe. (Dark, twisted, and arguably brilliant film, but I despised it just the same, and my ire has held out for several years now.)
But but but -- the plot thickens!
Marguerite is herein Chauvelin's former lover.
Pardonne moi, you sons of bitches?
Right. It's on. Let's do this thing.
...the music over the opening credits is alright. Certainly it feels less fusty than the '82 version, which when viewed from a modern perspective seems quite dated, but whatever, Jane Seymour's a hottie and still is.
Also WTF Percy is a brunette, now? Like, I didn't mind so much when Marguerite started popping up as a brunette in 1982, because that just makes it easier to project onto her, like any good little girl swooning over period films, but PERCY? I don't even LIKE blonde men, and I want to dig in my heels at the idea of a brunette Pimpernel. I don't know why. I never said this review would be an exercise in logic--it's an exercise in extreme prejudice and carefully nurtured bias.
...this whole sepia tone thing is really making Richard E. Grant look as speckled as a toadstool. Turn down the contrast or SOMETHING, geez.
The smirking action shots are kind of...out-of-place in the credits. I dunno, even knowing the story as I do, I find I like it better when there's a bit of a lead-up where there's no hint of Percy's true nature until he lets something slip, kind of like in the book, in the beginning, where you're like "...who is this idiot?" (As long as you haven't read the summary on the back.)
STOP SMIRKING AT THE CAMERA IT'S CREEPING ME THE FUCK OUT.
Phallic pistol-barrel shot. Classssyyyyy.
They're pulling down the statue of
Saddam some French dude!
That is one puffy-ass wig, Robespierre.
Okay I'm loving Chauvelin's voice/attitude. He has FLAIR.
Camera work is certainly more fresh.
Why do these people run sideways down the steps?
...Jesus Christ, that's Georgiana from the 1995 BBC Pride & Prejudice. Only as a bouffant redhead! D:
...Percy's just not stealthy or clever at all, so far. He just keeps punching everyone in the face!
PUNCH IN THE FACE. TAKE A DRINK.
And they're shooting random innocent guards just to provide a distraction as opposed to just firing into the air. Great. So it's not so much stealth and cunning but more brute force and hot lead.
Why do they keep calling Percy My Lord? He's a BARONET. I SHOULD LIKE TO HAVE A WORD WITH YOUR SCRIPT WRITERS.
OH GOD IMPROMPTU SNUGGLES. GEORGIANA WHA
Ahaha they come to arrest Armand mid-fizznuckin' because they know she's his girlfriend and he's like "NO WAIT I ONLY JUST MET THIS TRAMP TO EXCHANGE PUBIC LICE NO WAY ARE WE ROM
And Georgiana's like "...thanks. Thanks for that."
It's unclear whether they arrest him or not, but the poor bastards who hid the refugees in their house are totally screwed.
Cut to a peaceful shot of a ship. The Day Dream, no doubt.
...man, there's enough hoyay as it is without Percy tenderly whispering to the tortured member of his posse lying abed.
Dude whispers "...don't trust her!" and then dies. Cue tremulolus music of Intense Tension and something in Percy's face twitches. GEE I WONDER WHAT THAT COULD MEAN?
(ETA: Actually, dead!guy doesn't mean Margot. For once. But how are we supposed to know that?)
First shot of Margot. Um...she's...cute, I guess. Mind you, despite Richard E. Grant having a suave kind of handsomness about him, I'd've hardly picked him to play Percy. Clearly we're playing fast and loose with the idea of what constitutes the Most Gorgeous Couple in Europe.
Obligatory ballroom scene. (TAKE A DRINK!) Lots of pastels, (TAKE A DRINK) on male (TAKE A SHOT!) and female alike.
Hmm...in this light his hair isn't so dark, but still not what I would call blonde.
PERCY USING QUIZZING GLASS. TAKE A DRINK.
AND ANOTHER DRINK.
Well, this Marguerite is amusing, at least. She's got sparkle. Not that Seymour!Marguerite didn't, but this Margot seems more likely to take action rather than be acted upon.
...The Prince of Wales is a freaking embarassment. No surprise there.
Another ballroom dance. TAKE A DRINK.
CHAUVELIN AUGH. AND THEY WERE LOVERS? I CANNOT UNTHINK THAT THOUGHT. IT WILL TAINT EVERYTHING.
Some poor bastard with a stutter being Percy's obedient lapdog. Oh dear.
Oh Jesus. Percy's ranting flamboyantly about a cravat. I think I might be warming up to the doltish side of him. Still dislike his manner of Pimpernelism, i.e. punching. If I were Margot, I'd certainly be questioning whether my husband were a not-so-closeted closet-case.
Wow, Percy and Margot seem to actually, openly, rather hate each other. HAAAAAH. Divergent from the book, but they make it work. There's so much more OH SNAP potential.
"You don't know him!" "But YOU do, don't you?" *sneer* ...I feel like he was on the very edge of hissing "ssssslut!" tacked onto the end of that. WIN.
SOMEONE GOT GUILLOTINED. JUICY. TAKE A SHOT.
They're actually DISCUSSING their feelings? I get that it cuts down on time and guess-work on the part of the viewer unfamiliar with the story, but it's also NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
Margot: SNAPPY COUNTER-RIPOSTE.
Percy: ZING! OH!
Clearly, rapid-fire public arguments are more satisfying than a bout of hot sex.
Percy's a stone-cold ass-of-all-trades in this. Wow. Not so much pretending to be an idiot as being a very real dickwad.
The story actually happens for a while, now, and all is well.
Ballroom orgy. TAKE A DRINK.
Quizzing glass. TAKE A DRINK.
Quizzing glass on naked ladies. Take a SHOT.
Georgiana is now a blonde again. I guess the bouffant red hair was a wig. And yet...she...wore it to bed? Anyway, she's still a hussy. GO YOU. She and Percy are macking on each other like whoa.
Some pup who I think is supposed to be Lord Anthony Dewhurst is being publically bathed by a bunch of scantily-clad whores. Percy giggles, watching gleefully as they strip Tony down.
Just...chug. For your own sakes.
Margot sneaks into France and gets her ass immediately arrested and dispatched to prison via Chauvelin's office.
Georgiana is swanning her slutty ass into Chauvelin's office to save the day! Or at least Armand. Margot is kind of screwed at this point.
STOP CALLING PERCY "MY LORD"! (Take a shot for this one, if you want.)
More punching people in the face. (DRINK!) He's really outed himself as the Pimpernel, now. Considering that was Chauvelin's face.
SOME GUY JUST SHOT LORD DEWHURST IN THE STOMACH. TONY DOES NOT FUCKING DIE. EVER.
Oh good, Tony's bearing up manfully.
...AAAAnd Chauvelin just shot him in the head at point-blank range.
(Also that's kind of groooooooss!)
YES YOU SHOULD FEEL TERRIBLE, PERCY. SOMEONE JUST SHAT ON CANON AND MY FAVOUR
Except Percy's like "...whatever."
I'm putting another 20 bucks on royal dickwad jerkface assbutt.
HOMYGAWD GEORGIANA YOU SLUTTY MCSLUTTERS
Every night is Guy Fawke's Night in Revolutionary France. They loves their fires and their yelling. All night. Every night.
Bahahaha okay that was the CUTEST exchange as he's being led in handcuffs out of Margot's prison cell.
Margot: "Will you join me for breakfast?"
Percy: "Lord, Madame, I'm hunting at six!"
Whoa. Go go gadget hidden pockets. Full of keys and lock picks and his boots are just FILLED with useful paraphanalia which screws together to become...a wee little sword.
That would never fly with an airport metal detector.
Percy randomly breaks a dude's neck. Chug. Because I don't recall him intentionally killing ANY of the bad guys in the books, EVER. Now he's picking them off left and right.
HE'S A KILLING MACHINE.
Some subplot with the mob descending on the prison to murder everyone inside without trial. Of course now Percy has to save them, too.
He looks like a dork running about with a cutlass.
Oh, no, the massacre is continuing uninterrupted and Margot is missing from the prison.
Georgiana appears with Chauvelin in court to argue publically over Marguerite being a traitor or not. Multiple accusations of sluttery fly about, some more proudly admitted than others.
So now they're cutting off Marguerite's hair. Guillotine-prep, you know.
She looks cuter with short hair.
Anyway, a firefight and an actual fire break out in the streets and break up the procession towards the guillotine. Another of Sir Percy's stunningly subtle plans, I presume.
Georgiana gets her comeuppance and is found dead at intermission.
In other brazen hussy news, there is idyllic sexing aboard the Day Dream. It's tame, but creeeepy as hell despite Marguerite being cute with short hair.
MY SKIN IT IS CRAWLING.
That seems a good note to end this overall travesty on. Some moments of zingy wit aside, it wasn't even that lulzy and HOLY SHIT THEY KILT LORD TONY DEWHURST, who I now see was played by the yummy Jamie Bamber, and that is SO NOT ON.