Because Pixar is known for so reliably hitting balls out of the park, every time, it’s hard to think of what possible angle to take in a review as its latest slugger, Up, trots merrily around the bases of the multiplex, dances its way toward the hefty box-office returns that await at home plate, and basks in the warm glow of the adoration of millions of fans. For three years now, there have been stories in the financial press alleging that Pixar’s latest is due to underperform because a) nobody wants to see a silent movie about a lonely robot; b) children don’t want to play with plush rats; or c) nobody loves old people and fat kids. That’s one reason why it’s such good sport to watch the movies rake in the dough year after year.
Angélique (Michèle Mercier) roars back to life in this lively third installment in the five-film series, which sees her becoming a crucial instrument in the affairs of Louis XIV, and thus the subject of much palace intrigue. When Angelique accepts a diplomatic assignment to the Persian ambassador Bachtiary-Bey (Sami Frey), she’s rewarded with Peyrac’s estate — now she has two manors — but ends up as a kind of political prisoner, the captive of Bachtiary-Bey, who intends to rape and perhaps murder her. Rescued in the nick of time (by a Hungarian prince!), she returns to the king’s court, where she’s regarded with dismay by the king’s wife and actively scorned by the king’s current mistress, who senses impending obsolescence. The second half of the film is the most brashly inventive part of the series so far, including one recurring character’s death, another’s return from the grave, multiple attempts on Angélique’s life, and even a black mass.