Graphic Design: One Space or Two After a Period

Recently, I have seen two rather long Facebook discussions on whether one should use two spaces after a period or one. I learned to type on a manual typewriter in seventh grade, where I was taught the two spaces after a period rule. I clearly remember, the teacher and the class repeating, “period, space space, period, space space” when learning how to type. And if you’d asked me just two years ago, I would have said “Two Spaces!” loudly and clearly. But things have changed. I’ve been studying graphic design – learning the Adobe Suite slowly, first In Design, and now Illustrator. But I have also been buying and reading books on graphic design – in an attempt to learn whatever rules there might be to good verses bad web design and graphic design in general. It’s not my very first time trying to learn something about the mysterious world of design. I took a graphic design class in college – well, half of one to be precise – half the class was photography and the other half was design. And it was… well, I liked the graphic design half, but I found it incredibly frustrating as well. I often felt like the class was in a foreign language that I didn’t speak. Part of that may have been the inexperienced teacher, part of my confusion was certainly me – that was my first year at a major university (I started at my local community college). But the result was I had the feeling that I enjoyed graphic design, but I didn’t “get it”, if you know what I mean. I’m doing so much better in my classes now – both learning the programs, and learning design from the books and websites I’ve been reading.

Also, I’ve been writing this blog for nearly a year now, since August of 2014, and I’ve noticed that the “one space after a period” rule really makes a difference. And that difference is because of responsive design and how text flows in a blog post or on a website. I’ve actually cleaned-up some older blog posts to remove extra spaces. And I usually go through a post before I click “publish” to check for extra spaces. I’ve seen some pretty bad results when I’ve slipped back into my “period space space” habit. And it’s worth the clean look to take the time to fix it.

In her section on preparing a manuscript for print, Ellen Lupton has this to say, “Word spaces are created by the space bar. Use just one space between sentences or after a comma, colon, or semicolon. One of the first steps in typesetting a manuscript is to purge it of all double spaces.” Lupton, p. 210.

She also explains, “Design is as much an act of spacing as an act of marking. The Typographer’s art concerns not only the positive grain of letterforms, but the negative gaps between and around them. In letterpress printing, every space is constructed by a physical object, a black piece of metal or wood with no raised image. The faceless slugs of lead and slivers of copper inserted as spaces between words or letters are as physical as the relief characters around them.” Lupton, p. 91.

Lupton, Ellen. Thinking with Type A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, and Students, 2nd Ed., Princeton Architectual Press, New York (2004, 2010).

Another graphic designer, Robin Williams (no not that Robin Williams), simply references other books, “If you haven’t already, I strongly recommend you read The Mac is not a typewriter or The PC is not a typewriter. If you are still typing two spaces after periods, if you are underlining text, if you are not using true apostrophes and quotation marks …, then you seriously need to read one of those books.” p. 86, The Non-Designer’s Design Book (2nd Ed.), Peachpit Press, Berkeley, CA (2004)

Even style manuals recommend a single space. The APA Style Manual has this to say about manuscript spacing:

“Space once after all punctuation as follows:

  • after commas, colons, and semicolons;
  • after punctuation at the ends of sentences;
  • after periods that separate parts of a reference citation; and
  • after the periods of the initials in personal names (e.g., J. R. Zhang).

Exception: Do not space after internal periods in abbreviations (e.g., a.m., i.e., U.S.) or around colons in ratios. – APA Style Manual

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, pp. 290-291, Section 5.11 Spacing and Punctuation (5th Ed.)  American Psychological Association, Washington, D.C. (2001)

And, surprisingly, the Chicago Manual of Style agrees,  “Word Spacing – one space or two? Like most publishers, Chicago advises leaving a single character space, not two spaces, between sentences and after colons used within a sentence [but see 14.121], and this recommendation applies to both the manuscript and the published book.” Section 2.9, p. 29, Chicago Manual of Style

Note that section 14.121 refers to correct punctuation and spacing in a Bibliography or Works Cited section – and as that section always has special rules, apart from prose and body sections of a work, and those rules are highly detailed – I’m not going to go into them. My advice is that when you are writing a paper for college, university, high school English, or publication – look it up, and look it up in the specific publication manual used for your particular situation – that is, your school, a particular journal, etc. Also, handy tip – have a copy of the publications or style manual handy, and continuously check your formatting. Never trust that your Word Processor will apply APA or CMS styling and formatting correctly.

The Chicago Manual of Style goes on to specifically recommend that all hard returns within a paragraph be eliminated and that one should never use the space bar to indent text – ever!

“Spaces, tabs, and hard returns within paragraphs. A well-structured electronic document will never include more than one consecutive character space. To indent the first line of a paragraph or items in a vertical list, use the Tab key or your software’s paragraph indention features rather than the space bar. (Also eliminate any extra character space or tab after the final punctuation at the end of a paragraph; the hard return should follow the punctuation immediately.) To achieve hanging indentation for runover lines (as in a bibliography or index), use your software’s indent features – not hard returns and tabs or spaces [see 2.22]. A tab or a hard return (i.e., a paragraph break, generally made with the Enter key) should never appear within a paragraph. For prose extracts see 2.18; for poetry, see 2.19. Section 2.11, p. 60, Chicago Manual of Style.

Chicago Manual of Style The Essesntial Guide for Writers, Editors, and Publishers, The. (16th Ed.) University of Chicago Press, Chicago, (2010).

Why? Why the change? Well, it has to do with two things – proportional fonts verses fixed-width fonts, and responsive design. It also has to do with Kerning, and other design tricks of the final manuscript. Typewriters had fixed-width fonts. They had to, because each key manually struck the ribbon, so it had to move independently. The letter was in the center of the metal key, and a skinny letter, such as an i, took up the same amount of space as a wide letter like a w. Mechanically, the typewriter wouldn’t have worked otherwise. This is also why the qwerty keyboard was developed, it’s an arrangement of keys specifically designed so as a fast typist hits the keyboard, and the metal keys are raised to strike the ribbon and leave an impression of ink on the paper – the keys don’t stick together. If you’ve ever typed on a manual typewriter – you instinctively know this (when you learn to type on one, accidentally hitting two keys at once just happens – you unstick the keys and move on.) If you’ve only used a computer keyboard, or you don’t 10-finger type, it’s probably a bit of a mystery.

However, on a computer – most of the fonts are proportional, especially the most often used fonts (Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, Baskerville Old Face, Garamond, Tahoma, etc.) That is to say, a skinny letter (i) takes up less space and a fat letter ( w ) takes up more. One of the few fixed-width fonts included on most any computer and in most any Word Processing program is Courier New – which is used specifically for times when a fixed-width font is needed, such as samples of software computer code in the midst of a technical report. The report will be set in a standard proportional font (at my job we used either Helvetica or Arial) but the code sections would be set apart and in Courier New.

If you want to test the difference type the sentence: The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs, on a page in Microsoft Word or whatever word processor you like, then try changing the font – look at the spacing of the letters.  (If you want to make it very obvious, tack on “with the cat” after, “dogs” – the difference between the “w” and the “i” will be obvious.) If you want to see the difference, copy and paste the sentence again, and change the second sentence to Courier (or Courier New).

See below:

Proportional_Fixed-width_font_test

You can also see how much more space the fixed-width font takes, even at the same exact point size.

In professionally designed magazines, and books, as well as some websites, a graphic designer can use a program like Adobe InDesign and apply Kerning to adjust any awkward gaps or running together between letters or words due to the specifics of the actual text. Kerning is a mathematical way to adjust spacing (it’s applied by letter, but it can be used between words.) Kerning is often used in headlines, titles, logos that include words or names, or as I did in my InDesign class, when adding drop caps (capitals) to the first word on a page or in a paragraph. A drop cap is a large letter at the beginning of a word – often at the start of a page or chapter.

The second reason is responsive design. Not every screen is the same. You might read this blog post on a 17-inch widescreen monitor, similar to the one attached to my desktop machine right now; or you might read it on a 3 x 5 smartphone screen, or a 4 X 6 one, or a 7-inch tablet, 8-inch tablet, or 10-inch tablet. Apple’s introduced a smart watch. Laptops come in all different sizes – as do smart phones and tablets. Every single one of these devices has a different sized screen. If your initial website is set-up correctly, text should flow evenly and vertically so it can be read on any screen, no matter how big or how small. Other elements of the website should move around the main text. On a physically wider screen, text can stretch wider in horizontal space – but one should never, ever, ever have to scroll horizontally to read the text – but vertical scrolling is OK and expected. If your website is optimized to be responsive – the text will re-flow to fit the screen size. However, double spaces can, and do, mess up responsive design – resulting in messy text with extra indents. It can even give the impression of missing words.

So, change your habits – especially on-line use one space not two.

References

Amazon Link – Thinking with Type

Amazon Link – The Non-Designer’s Design Book (Note – this is the link to the 2nd edition, more recent editions are available)

APA Style Guide

Chicago Manual of Style (Note – website is subscription only)

Paperback and hardcover copies of the APA Style Guide and the Chicago Manual of Style should be available from Amazon.Com as well as any college or university book store.

How to Design an Engaging Infographic

This Infographic from Buzzfeed is one of the best I’ve seen, and a perfect example of why and how engaging infographics work.

First, it takes information that, if it was presented in a written article, would simply be a list of easily forgotten statistics and turns it into an image that’s interesting and pleasing to look at. Many people, for example, if they read an article comparing characters on Game of Thrones with the most screen time verses characters with the least screen time, would most certainly find their eyes glazing over from all the numbers. I know I would. Yes, pure statistics have their place – but this infographic presents all the statistics in a way that is engaging, fun to look at, and all in one place – and it doesn’t change the nature of the statistical information – which is vitally important.

Second, as noted in the previous paragraph, the infographic presents the statistics in a non-judgmental way. Going by time on-screen only, Tyrion Lannister is the most popular character, followed by Daenerys, followed by a tie between Robb Stark and Jon Snow. However, the information is presented two ways – the actual screen time in minutes and seconds, and the size of the figures – with characters with more screen time physically bigger and characters with less physically smaller. Thus, the graphic is understandable on any size screen. The numbers are also legible, even on a smartphone screen. However, this graphic, importantly, does not  draw any conclusions whatsoever about Game of Thrones from screen time. This is good.

Too often statistics are reported in error to make a point, especially popular research information. There is a difference between causality (this causes that) and correlation (these two facts come up together often but one doesn’t cause the other). There is also a difference between scientific research including double blind studies, and public opinion polls (which can be easily rigged in several ways – such as writing questions in such a way that a certain response is given the most often and then reporting not the question but the response; or limiting responses to two polar opposite choices; or even only polling people in a certain area – where a specific response is expected.) In addition, public opinion polls often fail to include plus/minus accuracy factors, methodology, full wording of questions, etc. (I actually worked for a public opinion telephone survey company one Summer – the wording of questions would shock you, especially if you have any background in science. And I have two master of science degrees as well. I’ve done empirical research.)

Some basics for putting together Infographics

1. Decide what information you want to convey. Make it simple but also useful.

2. When designing your infographic – make it legible. If your audience can’t read it, it doesn’t do any good.

3. Make sure your Infographic says what you meant and it isn’t misleading by graphics or content.

4. Don’t have content that conflicts with images or vice versa.

5. Save your Infographic as a .jpg but make it the centerpiece of an article or blog post with additional information. Think of the graphic as a quick “cheat sheet” but the article as the lesson.

6. Use good pictures or graphics. If you are a company or business, be wary of copyright issues.

7. Have fun! Who said statistics and learning have to be boring?

Upstairs Downstairs Series 4

  • Series Title: Upstairs Downstairs
  • Season: Series 4 (Season 4)
  • Episodes: 13
  • Discs: 4
  • Cast: Gordon Jackson, Jean Marsh, Angela Baddeley, David Langton, Simon Williams, Christopher Beeny, Jenny Tomasin, Lesley-Anne Down, Meg Wynn Owen, Jacqueline Tong
  • Network: ITV (UK) – Granada

Series Four of Upstairs Downstairs covers the First World War – the entire war. The season starts where the previous season at left off, in 1914, as the UK has declared war on Germany. James, who hadn’t adjusted well to leaving the army and working in the city the previous season, has already re-joined the army before war is even declared. Everyone is enthusiastic and happy, waving flags, singing patriotic British songs, and thinking the war will be over in six months. Young men rush to join up so they, “don’t miss it”.

This season of Upstairs Downstairs cleverly covers as many aspects of World War I as they can. Hudson, ever patriotic and distrusting of “foreigners” – becomes even more prejudiced, and subscribes to propaganda magazines. When Hazel, James’s wife, finds out – she’s livid and reads him the riot act. Hudson also attempts to join up several times and is rejected for his age (only 35) and “ill health” (he wears reading glasses). He, then, instead becomes a “special constable”, basically, special police. In a very strong episode, Mrs. Bridges is getting bread from a local bakery she’s used for years. The man who owns the bakery is second-generation German and a British citizen, but speaks with a German accent, as does his wife. While Hudson and the constables are protecting some building that doesn’t need protecting, a gang of “patriotic” British people, attack, vandalize, and burn down the German’s bakery. He shows up at Eaton Place with his family, including young children. The servants try to help, but in the end the baker’s wife is upset (understandably) at what happened, and even the normally happy-go-lucky baker is angry at Hudson, because he felt that the special constables should have protected his store. And remember, he may have German roots – but he’s a loyal British citizen.

Meanwhile, Ruby, the somewhat dim kitchen-maid, quits her job in service and gets a job working in a munitions plant, where she can make more money – and do her own patriotic duty (Ruby explains, “They say any woman who goes out to work is doing the same duty as a man who goes to war because it frees the man to join up instead of work.” She’s quoting a newspaper.) Ruby is absent from several episodes, but finally returns when her plant is blown-up in a zeppelin raid. Ruby gets re-hired as kitchen maid. However, in another episode when a bomb explodes very near Eaton Place, damaging the windows and the drawing room, Ruby becomes quite hysterical – obviously flashing back to being in a building that was bombed.

Daisy and Edward, marry, and then Edward goes off to war. He is injured and invalided home, suffering from severe shell shock (PTSD). He’s sent back again, but survives, and is eventually given an honorable discharge. At the end of the season, they both give notice and decide to make their own way in the world.

Meanwhile, though Daisy had talked of getting a part-time job (in addition to her duties as maid) as a omnibus “conductorette”, it’s Rose who actually does it – even though when Daisy had discussed the idea, Rose pooh-poohed her. Rose continues to work at Eaton Place, and does part-time shifts as “conductorette”. (Similar to Hudson, who works both as butler and as special constable.) She runs into her once-intended Australian, Gregory, again. He’s in the ANZACs (Australia and New Zealand corps). Running into him again, Rose realises that she made a mistake in giving him up. They get engaged again, with plans to marry after the war. Naturally, he’s killed. However, in the last episode of the season, Rose discovers she’s inherited a large amount of money from Gregory.

Georgina quickly joins up to be a nurse in London, and even though she has a few missteps, the sister in charge sees something in her and asks if she’d be willing to go to France as a nurse. Georgina had always wanted to be a real nurse helping soldiers – not merely changing sheets, and helping women in the local hospital, so she readily agrees. She turns out to be an extremely successful nurse.

James comes home on leave and complains about, well, just about everything. Hazel then uses her influence to get him posted to a safer post in the behind-the-lines officers’ station. James is not pleased about this. Hazel, trying to please him, then has him transferred back to the front. Eventually, James is reported missing presumed dead. However, he turns up in Georgina’s hospital, severely wounded and in shock. Hazel decides he should recover at home, and hires a private ambulance and nurse to bring him back to England. Both James and MP Richard Bellamy don’t approve, pretty much for the same reason – they don’t want to unfairly use their influence for personal reasons. Hazel gets what she wants. James does recover at home, but becomes increasingly sullen, depressed, and begins to show signs of shell shock, himself.

Richard Bellamy meets a war widow, Virginia Hamilton, and despite the two not liking each other at all at first – they fall in love and marry towards the end of the season. Virginia has two children from her first marriage. She had three, but her oldest son is killed in the war. Richard is also elevated to the Peerage and made a Lord. This is both an honor, and a way of kicking him out of Conservative Politics (as a Lord, he has the right to sit in the House of Lords – therefore he can no longer be an MP). Richard, though elected as a Tory (Conservative Party) through the influence of his wife’s family, had often held more middle-of-the-road and Liberal (as in the British Liberal Party) views, and had “crossed the line” when voting to follow his conscience. Needless to say, in earlier seasons of the show, his wife, her family, and even his lawyer did not approve. (Among Mr. Bellamy’s “liberal” stances – supporting universal free education, and Home Rule for Ireland. The Conservative response was, and I quote the show, “What do the poor need education for? All it will do it teach them what they don’t have.” What stuck-up nonsense.)

Series Four moves through the years of the war – dealing with a number of issues: shortages, hoarding, rationing, women working outside the home (many for the first time; others servants who found a way to make more money), Zeppelin raids, bombings in London, men coming home physically disabled, men dying, soldiers with shell shock (which was an old term for what we now call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and even women developing the same (Ruby is also clearly suffering from PTSD after being caught in a factory that was bombed). It also shows the subtle changes in attitude from 1914 when everyone was gung-ho and happy, to 1917 and even early 1918 when people felt like they were losing.

The armistice finally comes in November of 1918, and in the final episode of the season. However, Eaton Place is still not free from tragedy, as Hazel succumbs to Spanish Flu.

Read my Review of Upstairs Downstairs Series 1.

Read my Review of Upstairs Downstairs Series 2.

Read my Review of Upstairs Downstairs Series 3.

Agile Update – Week 20

This week was pretty average, with a lot less getting done than I should have done.  I’m back into the routine of taking a class, this time Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.  I did go to the computer lab every day to work on my class and homework. And I had my night class on Tuesday.  But I only exercised twice this week – one 20-minute Pilates workout and one 20-minute Yoga workout. Since I normally do 30 minutes of Yoga at a time – this was a step backwards.  I also only posted two blog posts. I did spend some more time working with Inkscape and Draw, practicing my skills with graphic design. And one of the two posts was a movie review, so that project is moving along.  I hope this week will be better. I want to at least get back to exercising three times a week and writing three blog posts. The good news on my Movie Project blog, though, is it is definitely moving forward. I might not be getting through the originally planned three or more reviews per week, but I’m getting at least one review per week done, and that’s something. It’s slow and steady progress.

Thunderbird 6

  • Title:  Thunderbird 6
  • Director:  David Lane
  • Date:  1968
  • Studio:  MGM, United Artists
  • Genre:  SF, Action, Children
  • Cast:  Peter Dyneley, Sylvia Anderson, Shane Rimmer, Jeremy Wilkin, Matt Zimmerman, David Graham
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format:  R1, NTSC

Thunderbird 6  is based on the Gerry Anderson Supermarionation series, Thunderbirds, and was made at the same time. For more information on the television series, see this post. The film opens with a secret meeting at the New World Aircraft Corporation, where the designer of the Thunderbirds, Mr. X, addresses the group. He suggests New World Aircraft should build an airship. The men at the meeting literally laugh at him, but build the ship anyway.

Once the ship is build, Alan Tracy and Tin Tin fly to England in an antique Tiger Moth Biplane to meet up with Lady Penelope and Parker. The four travel to the air field at New Word Aircraft. FAB 1, Lady Penelope’s pink Rolls Royce is loaded on the airship, and Alan, Tin Tin, Lady Penelope, and Parker, all go aboard the lighter-than-air craft for the around-the-world maiden voyage of Skyship One as it’s called.

However, all is not smooth sailing. Prior to the arrival of the International Rescue crew members, a group of men had gotten into the ship. These men kill the ship’s captain and the entire crew, and take their place. Skyship One is completely automated, and the crew is only there to serve the passengers and in case of emergencies.

With the International Rescue members aboard, and unaware that the crew isn’t the real crew – Skyship One lifts off, and begins it’s around-the-world cruise, stopping at many famous sites, and even making ports of call where the passengers can see the sights. They visit New York, the Grand Canyon, Los Angeles, Niagara Falls, Switzerland, the Pyramids, and other famous tourist locations.

Meanwhile, Jeff Tracy has told his engineer Brains (also the mysterious “Mr. X” who suggested that Skyship One be built in the opening scene of the film) that International Rescue needs a Thunderbird 6. Jeff gives no explanation of what he wants, nor does he explain why he thinks it’s so important. Throughout the film, Brains develops machines for Jeff, showing him various models, and Jeff rejects all of his designs and hard work. This becomes the “B plot” of the film, while the around the world tour on Skyship One is the “A plot”.

During the tour, Lady Penelope discovers she is being bugged. Alan, Parker, and Lady Penelope all investigate – and discover only Lady Penelope is being recorded. Meanwhile, it’s revealed that the substitute crew have written a message from Lady Penelope to Jeff Tracy at International Rescue – they plan on recording Lady Penelope saying all the words of the message, the re-arranging and editing together the words she says, so it sounds like she is sending the message herself. The message will then be sent, so Jeff hears it and thinks Penny sent it. Additionally, the message, which essentially sends Thunderbirds 1 and 2 to a disused airfield south of Casablanca, also tells Jeff to not acknowledge the message.

And that is exactly what happens – Alan, Parker, and Tin Tin discover recording equipment, and realize what is going on, but not before the message is sent. Penny calls Jeff directly using her compact-phone, only to find that Thunderbirds 1 and 2, and their pilots have been sent to the co-ordinates in the message. Lady Penelope warns Jeff it’s a trap. Jeff contacts his sons, and they blow the heck out of the buildings at the airfield, destroying everything with guns.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to round-up the false crew as the ship approachs Dover in the UK, there’s a gunfight in the “Gravity Compensation Room” (an impressive model set full of silver spinning things). The gravity compensaters are damaged, and the airship begins to slowly sink. Tin Tin, however, is taken hostage by one of the false crew and the International Rescue team is also taken hostage.

Meanwhile, Thunderbirds 1 and 2, fly to the location of Skyship One to find out what’s going on, and to rescue Lady Penelope, Tin Tin, and Alan.  As he gets close to where the airship should be, Scott has trouble finding it – then notices it is cruising at a much lower altitude than it should be. Skyship One then hits and becomes entangled in the Interceptor Towers at a missile base on the British coast. The ship is in a dangerous and precarious position. Scott has the missile base evacuated and in the meantime tries to effect a rescue of the people aboard Skyship One, with the help of Virgil in Thunderbird 2.

Unfortunately, because Skyship One is so light, and the tower isn’t steady, Thunderbirds 1 and 2 can’t get close without causing the ship to start tipping or crashing. They use lines to try to stabilize the ship but are unsure how to effect a rescue of the people. They contact Tracy Island Base for ideas.

Brains comes up with a solution – they will use the 2-seater Tiger Moth to rescue people from the Skyship one at a time. This would be difficult enough, but when the small biplane lands on the huge airship, Brains is quickly taken hostage – and Foster, the captain, tries to escape by himself, only.

However, Brains, Parker, Alan, and Tin Tin are able to overcome the false crew and get on the Tiger Moth. It isn’t straight forward though – other members of the substitute crew get on the Tiger Moth, there’s a gunfight, and eventually all of the false members are killed, including Foster who is in the pilot’s seat of the Biplane. Lady Penelope ends up in the forward seat of the Biplane, and Parker in it’s undercarriage – and the plane’s engine is shot and losing fuel. Lady Penelope is the only one of the group who doesn’t know how to fly a plane. Alan carefully moves along the exterior of the plane from where he had been hanging on the wing to the cockpit. He tries to talk Penny through a dead-stick landing but she can’t quite get the plane down. So Alan has her pull-up, roll the plane to get rid of Foster’s body, then gets into the second cockpit himself and eventually lands the plane (without fuel he ends up in a tree – but no one is hurt, not even Parker).

Meanwhile, once everyone has left Skyship One via Biplane, and the missile site is evacuated, Scott and Virgil let go of their lines supporting the doomed airship. It crashes into the missile base and there’s a series of really big explosions.

Later at Tracy Island, Brains introduces to Jeff the completely built and field-tested Thunderbird 6 – the Tiger Moth.

Thunderbird 6 does feel much more like an extended episode of the television series, and the plot holds-up together better than Thunderbirds Are Go. However, it’s still very slow moving. The world-wide cruise of Skyship One just seems to take forever. The film also has two problematic issues with it – first, it’s very violent, especially for Thunderbirds.  The entire crew of the airship (granted, its only four people, but still) is ruthlessly slaughtered. When Jeff tells Scott and Virgil that their rendezvous at the airfield south of Casablanca is a trap, the boys simply annihilate everything in sight. What if the Black Phantom’s cronies had taken people hostage at the airfield? I mean, sure, it was abandoned – but that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s no one there. And then, in the midst of the actual rescue, the entire substitute crew, who were, granted, up to no good – are killed. It’s remarkably violent for a kid’s movie. And the second issue is the film is pretty sexist. Of course, it’s Tin Tin who’s taken hostage. Of course, Lady Penelope can’t fly a plane or follow Alan’s instructions for landing it. I mean, yes, that would be difficult – but this is Lady Penelope!

Still, overall, the film is better than Thunderbirds Are Go, simply because the plot holds together better, even if the movie moves very slowly.

Recommendation: Recommended for fans of the original show only
Rating:  3 1/2 Stars out of 5
Next Film:  To Catch a Thief

Agile Update – Week 19

My new class finally started this past week Tuesday. It’s a true night class, 6:00 – 10:00 pm, once a week, so much closer to what I’m used to, and it’s only 7 weeks – so quite compressed. The class is in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Much to my surprise – we started with Illustrator, Adobe’s Vector Graphics program. I’m also finding that I enjoy working with Illustrator – I had a lot of fun in the computer lab just playing with the program, and the various backgrounds, fills, effects, textures, and “symbols” (what Illustrator calls clip art). So, for professional development I attended class on Tuesday, then worked in the lab every afternoon Weds through Friday. Unfortunately, the lab isn’t open on the weekend. On Friday, I did get the main homework assignment completed though.

However, even with class and homework – exercise wasn’t forgotten. I exercised three days this week, two 30-minute Yoga sessions and one 20-minute Pilates session. I probably should have tried to exercise once over the weekend, but it didn’t happen.

What I did do over the weekend was research and download free graphics software. I downloaded Inkscape , an Open Source version of Illustrator with a GNU license. I played with it on both Saturday and Sunday and had a lot of fun. It’s going to take me awhile to get used to it – and it doesn’t have every feature that Adobe Illustrator has, but it’s a good program, and fairly intuitive. I’ve had GIMP for awhile (It’s an Open Source version of Photoshop) and I’ve bought a book for it. Plus, once I actually go through the Photoshop unit of this class, I’m hoping GIMP will make a bit more sense.

Then I discovered a company called Serif. They have their own versions of the entire Adobe suite, and you can download the programs individually. The programs are:  Page Plus (InDesign), Web Plus (Dreamweaver), Draw Plus (Illustrator), Photo Plus (Photoshop) and Movie Plus (movie editing). Unfortunately, the software is not open source, and to do more useful things, you need to purchase the full version of each program. The good news is the price for the full version is reasonable, under $100 each (like $95 – $98 for Page Plus and Draw Plus – each), and because the software is downloaded separately, you can prioritize and pay the upgrade fee over time and only for the programs where you might need the full version. I also had trouble installing both Photo Plus and Movie Plus, and will have to try again at another time. But Page, Draw, and Web Plus installed just fine and those were what I most needed. It does seem like the upgrades are pretty much required. Page Plus has a limit of four pages – so it can’t be used for e-books or even longer magazines (the full version removes this limit), and it only saves in it’s default format – no exporting to .pdf or EPUB (again something the full version has). Draw Plus also has limitations. Still, it’s nice to know there are alternatives out there, and Page Plus was much nicer than Scribus (open source desktop publishing but a major disappointment). If anyone has recommendations for other free or low cost Graphic Design programs, please mention them in the comments – with a .url if possible. One cavaet, for me personally – it must be downloadable software (or something you can buy on DVD/CD) I cannot use Cloud software because of my satellite Internet – it’s literally impossible. Even if I could afford the outrageous amounts of money Adobe wants – their “Creative Cloud” is impossible for me to use on my machine because of my Internet.

My writing and blogging didn’t suffer either. I think having a definite schedule helped. I posted three posts to WordPress this week, including two movie reviews on both Blogger and WordPress, as well as my regular weekly Agile post. My movie project is coming along. It’s interesting, what was originally meant to be a one-year project reviewing 166 movies, is well into Year Five, but the upside is that the entire project will over over 200 movies. I’m also putting together my reviews into an EPUB book for myself at least. That started as a portfolio piece for InDesign, but it’s grown – and it’s why I would really like to find a good InDesign alternative I can afford and use. I also wrote a book review on GoodReads, see the widget on the lower left of this blog to find links to all my book reviews.

So for this week the plan is to exercise 3 – 5 times this week, continue working on my new class, write 3 – 5 blog posts, plus an additional one for Nix Studios, and even try to play with the design software I’ve downloaded. Additionally, I have a STC magazine to read. All and all, things are going very well!

Thunderbirds Are Go

  • Title:  Thunderbirds Are Go
  • Director:  David Lane
  • Date:  1966
  • Studio:  MGM/UA
  • Genre:  SF, Children
  • Cast:  Shane Rimmer, Peter Dyneley, Sylvia Anderson, Jeremy Wilkin, Matt Zimmerman
  • Format:  Technicolor, Widescreen
  • DVD Format:  R1, NTSC

“OK, boys, Thunderbirds are go!” – Jeff Tracy

“Well, clearly, there’s life on Mars. But I guess it’s not life as we know it.” – Jeff

Thunderbirds Are Go is based on the Gerry Anderson Supermarionation TV series, Thunderbirds and was made at the same time. The movie is very much like a bigger, more complex and meant to be more exciting episode of the series. And that is where the film falls down, unfortunately. The film opens  with the control center for the Zero X, a manned flight to Mars. A saboteur inside the vessel is able to sabotage it, and the ship crashes into the ocean. The crew, however ejects and is rescued by normal air/sea rescue.

Two years later, there is a discussion of the crash in the wake of a 800-plus page report detailing exactly what happened. The conclusion of the report – sabotage!  However, Earth is again in position to try for Mars. The proposal to do so meets with one negative vote. The captain of the previous mission asks that International Rescue be called in to provide security and be on-hand in case anything goes wrong. The head of the space organization isn’t happy about asking for help, and refuses to do so.

Meanwhile on Tracy Island, the boys are eagerly standing in front of Jeff Tracy’s desk. Though he points out that International Rescue does not normally respond until they receive a request for help, he tells them that rules are meant to be broken and sends Scott in Thunderbird 1 and Virgil in Thunderbird 2 to Glenn Field to monitor and assist. Alan is dispatched in Thunderbird 3 to monitor from space. John is of course, on Thunderbird 5, and will only monitor communications as normal. Gordon is left at home with nothing to do. Once the boys have left, Jeff calls Lady Penelope and asks IR’s London agent to also go to Glenn Field to investigate and route out any saboteurs.

Lady Penelope, undercover as a journalist, asks one of the scientists on the mission a question, then gives him a St. Christopher medal, with a transmitter/homing beacon inside. Later, once everyone is meant to be on the ship for takeoff – she runs a check and realises Dr. Grant is not on the ship. Scott goes to investigate and unmasks a phony and saboteur. Penny locates the real Dr. Grant who is unharmed and returned to the aircraft before it takes off. Penny and Parker also chase the saboteur in FAB 1, Lady Penelope’s pink Rolls Royce. The chase includes the car turning into a hydrofoil and continuing the chase on water, and finally bringing down the saboteur’s helicopter with machine gun fire.

Meanwhile, Zero X takes off as scheduled and without difficulty. Thunderbird 2 escorts it as far as rarefied atmosphere, where Thunderbird 3 takes over and sees that the ship safely leaves Earth’s atmosphere. Alan returns in Thunderbird 3 to Tracy Island. Meanwhile, rather than returning immediately to Tracy Island, Scott and Virgil join Lady Penelope at a new nightclub called the Swinging Star. The Thunderbirds are left under guard at Glenn Field.

Back at Tracy Island, Alan isn’t happy to have heard that Scott and Virgil are going out for a night on the town. He asks Jeff for permission to go to the mainland with Tin Tin, but Jeff refuses.

That night, Alan has a dream – Lady Penelope picks him up and takes him to the Swinging Star nightclub in space. There’s instrumental music and Alan wear’s a medium blue suit, while Lady Penelope wears a stunning blue dress with a white feather boa. After the first musical number, Cliff Richards Jr. and the Shadows come on and play an elaborate number which includes them playing on FAB 1 in space, and on a giant guitar and other effects. After his musical interlude, the dream gradually becomes slightly nightmarish and Alan is woken up by his father, after he falls out of bed.

thunderbirds-are-go-5

Next, the boys, Jeff and Tin Tin are relaxing by the Tracy’s pool. Jeff notes the Zero X is now on Mars.

The film cuts to Mars, which is grey and rocky – like the moon. The Martian Excursion Vehicle rolls along the surface, while the scientists inside talk of collecting samples. The scientists and astronauts notice some unusual rock formations. They then decide to fire on one to break it down for easier collection.  This is a bad move, as the “coiled rocks” are living creatures. These “rock snakes” attack. The group in the MEV call for immediate pick-up and learn it will be a short time before the rest of the ship is in position for rendezvous. The MEV tries evasive maneuvers. Finally, the MEV takes off before the rendezvous check time. However, they safely reconnect with the ship.
On Tracy Island, Jeff and the boys discuss the amazing discovery on Mars and that the ship will return in six weeks.

Six weeks later the Zero X runs into trouble on it’s return journey.  International Rescue is called in. Not only is Zero X crashing, it’s heading for a small city, and access to the escape unit is jammed.

Scott heads to Glenn Field in Thunderbird 1 to oversee the rescue operation in Command and Control. Virgil, with Gordon and Alan, responds in Thunderbird 2. Once Thunberbird 2 gets closer to Zero X, Gordon oversees the rescue winch and Alan attempts to get aboard the Zero X to fix the escape unit system.  Brains, the engineer, reads a circuit diagram to explain to Alan what he needs to do.  Alan adds a transistor to the broken/burned out unit, and starts to re-wire it.  The pilot sends his co-pilot and navigator to the escape unit, but continues to fly the plane – such as it is, since it’s crashing.

Although Alan drops his screwdriver, and the ship is skimming the treetops, Alan’s able to re-wire the machinery. The pilot gets to the escape unit and the unit is safely ejected. Alan also ejects but isn’t able to get directly to Thunderbird 2. He is, however, safely lowered to the ground, where he’s picked-up by a waiting Lady Penelope in her pink Rolls Royce, with Parker acting as chauffeur. Lady Penelope promises to take him to the Swinging Star nightclub.

Meanwhile, the crew of Zero X are safe, including the pilot – who got into the escape unit at the last moment.  The plane itself, however, crashes into the city – presumably without harming anyone on the ground since the area was evacuated.

At the Swinging Star, Alan is wearing a fake mustache disguise. He soon learns that the rest of his family, including Jeff, are at the next table also in disguise. They congratulate Alan and toast him as an hero.

Thunderbirds Are Go has a few problems. First, for a movie that should be about a fantastic rescue – it isn’t really. The first Zero X goes down, but the crew are rescued by conventional means. When the Thunderbirds go to escort the second Zero X, other than routing out a saboteur, there’s no need for them to be there because the launch goes off perfectly. When the Zero X gets into trouble on Mars, they are too far away to call International Rescue – even Thunderbird 3, and they rescue themselves. And finally, the actual rescue at the end seems rushed. Alan does get to be the hero, but he’s also a seasoned professional (if anything Gordon and John get slighted in the story). Also, although the crew is rescued, always the most important thing for International Rescue – rescuing people; one really has to wonder about the wisdom of allowing a very large spaceship to crash into a city. I mean, Did they really think it would be completely evacuated?  And then there’s the fantasy dream sequence. The whole film is slow, clunky, and feels like two or more Thunderbirds TV episodes cobbled together.

The positives are of course the model work, which is really good, even though the models do scream that they are, in fact, models, and not something realistic. It’s worth noting that Derek Meddings, who did the model work for the series, this film, and many of Gerry Anderson’s other series; also worked on Doctor Who, the James Bond feature films, and had a distinguished career in special effects. I have this and Thunderbird 6 to round-out my collection of Thunderbirds DVDs. I also have the entire TV series. But other than as a collectible, it’s not really worth it.

Recommendation:  Skip it
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars
Next Film:  Thunderbird 6

Thunderbirds

  • Title:  Thunderbirds
  • Director:  Jonathan Frakes
  • Date:  2004
  • Studio:  Working Title, Universal
  • Genre:  SF, Adventure, Action, Children
  • Cast:  Brady Corbet, Bill Paxton, Sophia Myles, Ron Cook, Ben Kingsley, Anthony Edwards, Genie Francis
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format:  R1, NTSC

“Alan, This equipment’s only to be used in an emergency! [Tin Tin and Alan look at each other] I guess this qualifies.” – Fermat

“It’s the children. They have it.” – The Hood
“No way. They’re dead. No one could live through something like that.” – Mullion
“I did.” – The Hood

“Alan? He’s just a kid.” – Gordon Tracy
“He’s a Tracy.” – Jeff Tracy

Thunderbirds is a live-action children’s adventure film based on the ITV Gerry Anderson Supermarionation series of the same name. For more information on the original television series see this post. The film is an origin story of sorts, set early in the career of International Rescue and the Thunderbirds. Jeff is very much an active part of the organization, and Alan – the youngest Tracy, is still at school, attending Wharton Academy, an all-boys boarding school, with Fermat, Brains’ young son.

Alan dreams of the day he can leave school behind and join his brothers in International Rescue as a full Thunderbird.  In this film, the Thunderbirds are the pilots of the machines as well as the machines themselves. Alan’s at school when he’s caught daydreaming by a teacher – and is given an extra report to write during Spring Break. However, soon all the students are watching a news cast – the Thunderbirds respond to an fire at an oil rig in Russia and rescue the trapped men, despite heavy rain and other problems. Alan and Fermat watch with the other students, but Alan, far from being worried about his older brothers and father – mimes their actions and wishes to be with them.

Lady Penelope, the family’s London agent, arrives at Wharton and picks-up Alan to bring him home to Tracy Island, because the rest of the family is obviously busy. Not only does she arrive in her 6-wheeled pink Rolls Royce – but Lady Penelope’s entire wardrobe is pink. Once she, Alan, Fermat, and Parker have driven away from any traffic the car turns into a flying car – and Parker pilots it to the Island.

Unbeknowest to Scott Tracy, however, when he and Virgil drop off the rescuees at a local hospital, one of them shoots a tracking compound onto Thunderbird 1. Scott doesn’t notice. At dinner, Alan asks his father when he can become a Thunderbird, and Jeff rebukes him saying he’s too young.

Alan and Fermat sneak into Thunderbird 1 where they accidentally start the launch sequence. The sequence is stopped without incident, but Jeff is so mad at Alan’s behavior he doesn’t give Alan a chance to tell him about the tracking goo he and Fermat found. (At this point the children don’t realize what the goo is for.)

John’s on Thunderbird 5, a manned satellite and communications station. He reports to Jeff on a couple of minor problems but his report is it’s basically a quiet night. Then, suddenly, and without warning, The Hood (Ben Kingsley) fires a rocket into Thunderbird 5. The satellite is crippled and John is in trouble.  Jeff, Scott, Virgil, and Gordon take Thunderbird Three, the giant, red rocket ship into orbit to rescue John/fix the satellite.

Meanwhile, The Hood invades Tracy Island.  Alan, Fermat, and Tin Tin see his sub – but are unable to stop the attack on Thunderbird 5.

The Hood bursts into the house on the island, looking around he recognizes Jeff’s picture. The Hood’s vendetta seems personal. The Hood forces Brains to activate command and control. Jeff and his boys enter Thunderbird 5, but The Hood locks the door so they can’t get out.  Jeff handles the emergency on Thunderbird 5 well, and finds and cares for his injured son, John.  However, the five men are unable to escape the satellite because The Hood’s locked and jammed the door from Command and Control.

Alan, Fermat, and Tin Tin (Kyrano’s daughter) go the Thunderbird Silos – they use the Firefly and the Thunderizer to escape The Hood’s henchpeople, Mullion and Transom.  They slide down an exhaust pipe into the Ocean surrounding the Island, then get to shore. The three need to come up with a plan. They decide to cross the Island on foot, through the jungle to the Island’s satellite dish to try to contact Jeff on Thunderbird 5. After a few adventures, they make it.  They have some difficulty with the transmitter, but eventually get it working.  Alan asks what to do – but Jeff tells him to follow protocol and get to Lady Penelope.

Alan would rather have an more active role. He finds one of the family’s old hover-sleds, and builds a sidecar-like device so he can carry Tin Tin and Fermat as well behind them. They are chased by the Hood’s Henchpeople, Mullion and Transom.  Fermat and Tin Tin are caught, and put in a freezer with their fathers, Brains and Kyrano.

Meanwhile, Alan is still free, and he sees Lady Penelope and Parker arrive. He follows and sees them challenge and fight the henchpeople in the Tracys’ living room.  Although the British agents fight extremely well, they are no match for The Hood’s mind control – the are caught and put into the freezer with everyone else.

The Hood, Transom, and Mullion head off to the Bank of England in Thunderbird 2 – having gotten the guidance computer chip Fermat had taken out of the machine.

In the freezer, Parker remarks that he can open the lock if he had a small piece of wire. Lady Penelope offers him the underwire from her bra. Everyone had discretely turned away as she retrieved it.

The group manages to rescue Jeff and the boys on Thunderbird 5 just before the satellite burns up in a decaying orbit, as well as reversing the sabotage to the satellite airlock door to Thunderbird 3. Then, the group, including Lady Penelope take Thunderbird 1 to London.

The Hood lands Thunderbird 2 in Jubilee Gardens, near the London Eye.  They take the Mole and dig a route under the Thames towards the Bank of England, their route cuts the supports of the monorail – causing a disaster.

Meanwhile, Jeff and his boys head directly to London in Thunderbird 3.

Alan arrives in Thunderbird 1 – he lands and uses Thunderbird 4 (the yellow sub) to rescue the monorail car, with help from Tin Tin who secures the line around the monorail, which is then lifted by Thunderbird 1.

Jeff watches his youngest son in action, and is proud of how his handles himself. He lands Thunderbird 3 in Jubilee Gardens next to the other Thunderbirds.

Once the people from the monorail are safe, the Thunderbirds and Lady Penelope go to the Bank of England to stop The Hood.  Lady Penelope, thanks to The Hood’s special powers, and Jeff end-up locked in a vault.  Alan, with the help of Tin Tin’s use of her own special powers, defeats The Hood.

At a celebratory beach party, Jeff gives International Rescue pins to Fermat, Tin Tin, and Alan – and welcomes Alan officially into the family business.

Thunderbirds is a fun family movie. It always makes me smile whenever I watch it, from the opening animated sequence, to the ending credits theme tune by Busted, “No strings to hold them down,” indeed.  Yes, it’s a kids movie, and Jeff and the older Tracy sons are basically stuck in Thunderbird 5, completely helpless for the majority of the movie. The movie emphasizes Alan – and shows us his journey from teenager, to full-fledged International Rescue member. Jeff Tracy does come off as an, excuse the expression, bit of an hard-ass, but explanations are given. The Hood hates him because when International Rescue responded to the collapse of his illegal diamond mine – he wasn’t rescued, but stranded. Being trapped led him to develop his mental powers. When Alan asks if The Hood’s story is true – Jeff tells Alan, yes, it is, and that sometimes you can’t save everyone, even though International Rescue saved 600 people that day. Alan then asks, “What was Mom like?” To which Jeff replies, “She was like you.” Jeff had been inspired to start International Rescue after his wife was killed in an avalanche.

There are some notable differences from the TV show the movie is based on – one of the most notable is that the International Rescue members, that is, the Tracy boys who pilot the Thunderbird machines call themselves Thunderbirds as well. In the series, their organization was always International Rescue, the machines were Thunderbirds, and the pilots were the Tracys. Though, as it was a secret who IR was – I could easily see the public also calling the pilots Thunderbirds rather than members of International Rescue as they do in the TV show. Also, in the series, Alan is an adult – an astronaut who is also famous as a race car driver (which was almost a hobby for him). And Alan’s a competent member of International Rescue, and the pilot of Thunderbird 3 – who splits space monitor duty with John, aboard Thunderbird 5.  Jeff leads his boys from the ground as base commander. And Lady Penelope doesn’t wear so much pink. Though I must admit her wardrobe in the film, is fantastic.

Still, even with the shift of focus to Alan, Fermat (a new character for the film), and Tin Tin, the film is fun. It’s an excellent family film. And I always enjoy it every time I watch it.

Recommendation:  See It! Especially appropriate for families and pre-teens.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Next Film:  Thunderbirds Are Go

Agile Update – Week 18

Last week was another OK week. I’m so glad classes start up again tomorrow – it should keep me busy and more on track.

Anyway – I only managed to exercise twice last week. Thirty minutes of Yoga one day and twenty minutes of Pilates on a different day. Still that’s fifty minutes for the week, so not too bad.

I did get three posts written on WordPress, including a movie review on my Blogger blog as well as on WordPress. I reviewed a mystery on GoodReads.

I’ve continued to copy my older reviews from GoodReads to my LiveJournal account. This is more to keep that account active, as well as to keep a backup. It’s still best to see my GoodReads page to read my reviews. See widget to the lower right of this page. So I cross-posted a total of six reviews to LiveJournal.

I do find that using this Agile-based program to track my progress is a good thing. I do need practice at setting goals, and my three areas are:  professional development, exercise, and writing – this blog, my movie reviews, and even the occasional column for other websites. It is good to make myself balance everything well. The Agile program emphasizes planning (Weekly Vision), daily outcomes (positive reinforcement of what you did each week), and weekly reflection (a weekly list of accomplishments) – the reflection should be positive but can also point out areas that could be better.

The Three Musketeers

  • Title:  The Three Musketeers
  • Director:  Stephen Herek
  • Date:  1993
  • Studio:  Walt Disney Pictures
  • Genre:  Adventure
  • Cast:  Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland, Chris O’Donnell, Oliver Platt, Tim Curry, Rebecca De Mornay, Gabrielle Anwar, Paul McGann
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format:  NTSC, Region 1

“You go back, and you tell the Cardinal, we will continue to perform our sworn duty, which is to protect the King, and we will use every means in our power to fight him.” – Athos

“A remarkable woman – the most beautiful I’ve ever known, and the deadliest, which would explain my attraction.” – Cardinal Richelieu

“D’Artagnan, would you be so kind as to redistribute this wealth? [D’Artagnan looks confused] Throw the coins, man, people are hungry.” – Aramis

“This world is an uncertain realm filled with danger, honor undermined by the pursuit of power, freedom sacrificed when the weak are oppressed by the strong, but there are those who oppose these powerful forces, who dedicate their lives to truth, honor, and freedom. Those men are known as Musketeers.” – the King

Disney’s The Three Musketeers is a fun, adventurous, romp. Although there are lines here and there referring to the sorry state of the people of France, and the assassination of the previous King of France (the new King’s father), it’s not dwelt upon – at all. The result is this is a fun, light, frothy adventure film.

With the death of the previous King, and a very young new King on the throne of France, the evil Cardinal Richelieu is posed to take over France, and even aims to become King himself. Richelieu is played with considerable relish, and some chewing of scenery by Tim Curry, so you know it’s going to be fun. Richelieu’s opening move is to dismantle the Musketeers the King’s personal and private guard. Told of the disbanding of the Musketeers, the men ceremonially burn their blue tunics and turn in their swords.

Three Musketeers refuse to give in, however, and become outlaws.

Meanwhile, Chris O’Donnell plays an arrogant young man who is on his way to Paris to join the Musketeers like his father. He gets into a duel with Girard, who believes he wronged his sister. The duel is, however, swiftly broken up and the young man, D’Artagnan, heads to Paris. Upon arriving he find a man in the destroyed former HQ of the Musketeers. Assuming the HQ has merely been moved, he asks for the new location. D’Artagnan learns that the Musketeers have been disbanded. He manages to get Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, upset with him and ends up with appointments for duels with each of them – at 12:00, 1:00, and 2:00, respectively.

When he arrives, late, for his duel with Athos, he meets the other Musketeers as well. The three are surprised to learn D’Artagnan has arranged duels with them all. And D’Artagnan is shocked to learn the three men he’s agreed to fight are Musketeers. He finds no joy in killing a Musketeer. But there will be no killing – the Cardinal’s guards attack and the four men fight back. The Three Musketeers are surprised by the young D’Artagnan’s skill. They defeat the first group of the Cardinal’s guards, then another group attacks. Athos urges D’Artagnan to leave and go home.

D’Artagnan, doesn’t leave, gets separated from the group and is captured. But he frees himself from the dungeons and hears the Cardinal meet Mi Lady D’Winter – and hears their entire plan. Richelieu plans to betray France to England by signing a treaty with Lord Buckingham – his payment for this will be the throne of France. Mi Lady D’Winter will carry his terms, and the treaty to Calais. Somehow, though he hears the entire plan, D’Artagnan doesn’t see Mi Lady D’Winter, or forgets who she is when he meets her later.

The Three Musketeers rescue D’Artagnan from the chopping block – literally, and they escape in the Cardinal’s own coach. The four drink the Cardinal’s wine, eat his food, and give his coin to the poor as they leave Paris. D’Artagnan tells the Musketeers of Richelieu’s plot – and the Musketeers realize that if they can stop the spy and get the treaty, they will be able to prove Richelieu’s a traitor, as well as saving France. Unfortunately, the Cardinal knows that D’Artagnan knows about his plot – he orders a 1000 gold coin bounty on the heads of him and the Musketeers. This makes getting to Calais difficult.

To make their travel less obvious, and to double the chances of finding the spy – the four split into two groups. Athos and D’Artagnan are attacked by bounty hunters. D’Artagnan offers to stay with Athos (until the bitter end, because they are outnumbered by men with guns, or at least, muskets), but Athos orders him to go on to Calais, knowing that finding the spy, stopping Richelieu and rescuing the King are more important than a single Musketeer’s life.

D’Artagnan takes the surviving horse and heads off but eventually falls asleep and falls off his horse. He’s picked up by a woman in a carriage – a woman he doesn’t recognize. She’s Mi Lady D’Winter. They go to the ship for her meeting with Buckingham. But Porthos and Aramis have reached the ship first, and have knocked out or killed the crew. The Musketeers end-up with the treaty, and D’Artagnan is again, rescued. Mi Lady D’Winter turns out to be Sabine – Athos wife, whom he kicked out and thought dead. Athos had regretted his decision to kick out his wife (he thought her an enemy of France and a murderer, she professed her innocence, he exiled her anyway.)

The next morning she’s to be executed. Athos had tried to get her to tell him the rest of Richelieu’s plan, but she refuses. At the execution, Athos stops the ax-man. Sabine reveals that Richelieu plans to have the King assassinated at his birthday celebration, that Friday. She forgives Athos for not believing in her all those years ago, then kills herself by jumping off a cliff.

The Musketeers and D’Artagnan rush to Paris, leaving “All for one and One for All” markers everywhere in their wake. At the birthday celebration, the four try, desperately, to find the assassin. He gets a shot off, misses, and the plaza fills with Cardinal’s guards and Musketeers. D’Artagnan, meanwhile fights the assassin on a nearby rooftop. The battle moves inside as Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and D’Artagnan, try to find and rescue the King and Queen from the Cardinal. They succeed, the Cardinal is captured, and the King admits D’Artgnan into the Musketeers.

Again, this is fun, light, adventure film. There’s no serious violence. No one gets killed. The good guys win and the bad guys lose. In the middle there’s lots, and lots, of sword-fighting to enjoy – as well as chases. The film’s score is excellent, and the cast is good – if a bit young. The filming is gorgeous – and especially the greens just pop off the screen. The whole film has a very storybook quality to it. It’s highly enjoyable, and not too deep. I recommend this, especially for families.

Recommendation:  See it!
Rating:  Four Stars
Next Film:  Thunderbirds