The Three Musketeers

26 Nov

Title: The Three Musketeers
Year: 2011
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Writers: Andrew Davies and Alex Litvak, based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas
Starring: Logan Lerman, Milla Jovovich, Matthew Macfadyen, Ray Stevenson, Luke Evans, Mads Mikkelsen, James Corden, Juno Temple, Orlando Bloom, Christoph Waltz
MPAA Rating: PG-13, sequences of adventure action violence
Runtime: 110 min
Major Awards: –
IMDb Rating: 6.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 24%


Yet another adaptation of The Three Musketeers has come our way people, this time courtesy of Paul W.S. Anderson, and even though I guess it’s good that at least this adaptation seemed to have fun with the classic source material by Alexandre Dumas, that’s pretty much the only good thing I can say about it, because everything else is pretty damn messy. Not to mention that I’m only mentioning that as a “good” thing because at least a breezy approach to the novel differentiates it a bit from the many other adaptations of it that we’ve been subject to in the past, but it also makes it look as a “for dummies” version of the book, and in every other respect it’s the same as those aforementioned slew of past interpretations.

It’s a very campy movie, you get people from seventeenth century Europe uttering the most ridiculous lines of dialogue you can imagine, a really stale combination of dialogue from every other period epic made in Hollywood with slang that was invented less than a decade ago, much less a century or four. And that’s actually a good description of how this film essentially plays out, it doesn’t know if it wants to be an old-fashioned action adventure epic or a CGI-ladden reimagining of timeless characters and a timeless plot. So, what do we get? A really shoddy attempt to pull both off, and failing at one worse than it already did at the other.

So yes, if you want to see a film try to combine the efforts of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise (as in, the great action and flamboyance of that) with those of the Sherlock Holmes franchise (as in, a new reimagining of it all with special effects and the characters having gadgets) then I guess you can go check this one out. Because, make no mistake, the one thing this one actually tries really hard to do is establish itself as a potential franchise. You even get the ending that seems to set up a second film, so you know they really want to make another one. Thankfully, though, the film has been a commercial disappointment ($120 million worldwide against a $75 million budget, but with barely over $20 million coming from the States), not to mention that unlike the aforementioned two franchises, this one has no Johnny Depp or Robert Downey Jr., no actor ready to really immerse themselves in their characters, Christoph Waltz I guess tries, but not nearly hard enough.

This time around our titular threesome is played by Matthew Macfadyen (Athos), Luke Evans (Aramis) and Ray Stevenson (Porthos), and even though in theory this is trying to be a revamp of the source material, their personalities are the same as they have ever been. And I use the word “personality” lightly, because they never are given any room to establish themselves as characters, much less establish their famous dynamic, thus making their “All for one and one for all!” motto sound fake.

Oh, and you also have Logan Lerman as D’Artagnan, the wannabe musketeer. And this to me was the most disappointing part of the film, not because I think Mr. Lerman’s unlikable and, frankly, cocky performance as D’Artagnan is what did the film in, the film would’ve still been bad without it, but because Mr. Lerman is the guy that’s been cast as Charlie in next year’s film adaptation of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, one of my favorite novels of all-time, so I’m now fearing about how he’ll treat one of my favorite characters.

The rest of the cast is filled with Orlando Bloom, as the Duke of Buckingham, one of the villains in the picture, and he’s plain bad here. Then there’s Mr. Anderson’s wife, and the star of his Resident Evil movies, Milla Jovovich as Milady who has all these battle skills that kind of match those of the Musketeers. And there’s also the aforementioned Mr. Waltz, who plays the famous villain of their story, Cardinal Richelieu, and in paper he’s a damn fine choice to play the bad guy of this story, and he’s clearly having a ball playing the role, that’s obvious here, but Mr. Anderson doesn’t let us spend much time with him and Mr. Waltz can’t really dig into the ridiculous situation he’s in and unleash the campy comedic potential of the role.

When it becomes obvious that the characters are horribly done here, the film dumps any sort of development possible with them and focuses entirely on delivering everything their special-effects budget allowed them to, not a single one of the things they come up with being particularly inspired. If you’ve read the novel, skip this film, there’s no respect paid to its source material, nor any interest paid to the history of the time. If you’ve seen some of the other adaptations, skip this film, there’s nothing here the others haven’t touched upon. If you like good movies, skip this film, this one’s not worth your money. We get a film that doesn’t know what sort of action adventure it wants to be, and instead it fails as both the lighter swashbuckling fare and the effects-heavy period epic.

Grade: C-


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