The Three Musketeers
Directed by: Paul W.S Anderson
Cast: Logan Lerman, Matthew Macfadyen, Luke Evans, Ray Stevenson, Milla Jovovich, Christoph Waltz, Orlando Bloom
Running Time: 1 hr 50 mins
Release Date: October 21, 2011
PLOT: When a royal necklace is stolen from the Queen of France, the Musketeers (Macfadyen, Evans, Stevenson) and the young d’Artagnan (Lerman) are hired to retrieve the priceless piece of jewelry from England, and in turn save the relations between England and France before a war starts.
WHO’S IT FOR? This particular Musketeers adaptation is made for pre-teen boys who still have trouble recognizing action clichés, and are more likely to think this movie is based on the candy bar than an actual book.
EXPECTATIONS: There isn’t a lot to “expect” from a movie based on classic literature directed by the “other” Paul Anderson who directed Soldier and Resident Evil: Afterlife. I suppose I “expected” silliness.
Logan Lerman as d’Artagnan: Though the movie gives its title to the Musketeers it’s really d’Artagnan’s story, and it’s watered down to ways that 12-year-old boys can relate. d’Artagnan is excited by a new life in beating up bad guys, yet at the same time, he doesn’t know how to woo a pretty girl (the same problem even bothers King Louis XIII). He earns a sense of maturity by rolling with the big boys, and also by beating up men twice his age. As you can see, the path of d’Artagnan is boring. Lerman isn’t able to rescue this now-cliche character from blandness.
Matthew Macfadyen, Luke Evans, and Ray Stevenson as The Three Musketeers: The title characters of this movie are designated to one-sentence character descriptions, and are performed with little spark (they are hardly recognizable faces for supposedly lead heroes, as well). Athos is the leader, Aramis is slightly religious, and Porthos is the guy whose name doesn’t begin with an “A,” and he’s really strong. It should be sign with the intentions of this movie that the villains are much more recognizable to audiences than the good guys, especially those who are playing the classic “Musketeers” characters.
Milla Jovovich as Milady: She’s here to remind us that this is a W.S Anderson movie, as she has the same stealthiness of her character Alice from the Resident Evil movies. Thus, his presence is kind of silly, and comes with moments that are more likely to be in a Resident Evil flick than anything like this. There are TWO instances in which she maneuvers through a booby-trapped security room. Two.
Christoph Waltz as Cardinal Richelieu: One of the movie’s saddest appearances belongs to Christoph Waltz, who adds another negative performance to his slightly depressing post-Inglourious Basterds filmography, borrowing characteristics that made his Oscar-winning performance such a favorite. He’s manipulative as Cardinal Richelieu, but also a man of manners and repressed rage. This is another role from Waltz that makes his career hole deeper – we can only hope that he is liberated from such qualities with Polanski’s domestic film Carnage coming out this winter.
TALKING: Ouch. With his silly mustache and goofy snarl, Orlando Bloom says the should-be-banned line, “Look what the cat dragged in.” Musketeers does use the “All for one, one for all” motto of its title characters, but only to remind audiences they’re watching something that claims to be a Musketeers movie, not just a historically-challenged action movie.
SIGHTS: The fight sequences in the movie do have some cohesiveness – as with a movie like his Death Race remake, director Paul W.S Anderson does know how to cut together a moment of all-out action with satisfying coherency. The swordplay in this movie is probably its smoothest element overall. A large in-air battle between air-ships tries too hard and seems to go so over-the-top that it crashes on the other side of the proverbial wall. Versailles (or what is made to look like the place) looks especially exquisite with the 3D style, as they offer great depth in shots of long, wide halls or rooms. Looking at the surroundings as the characters slowly walk through them, the scenery feels more natural than anything in the script. Still, don’t see a movie in 3D just for the believable sets.
SOUNDS: The strings in the Three Musketeers score sometimes rush like they’re trying to keep up with Inception sheet music. Electric guitars are added to the score in an awkward way to marry the movie’s modern tendencies with its period action. A lame song called “When We Were Young” by Take That bores audiences as they leave the theater and walk away from their popcorn bags and candy wrappers.
BEST SCENE: The first sword fight against Richelieu’s men offers the best action, in sense of both pacing and cohesion.
ENDING: Musketeers is hopelessly open for a sequel, even though the projected size seems like it will be too much to actually justify in a second film. It does one of those, “zoom out to show hundreds of air-ships” things.
QUESTIONS: Why even force the 12-year-olds that saunter into this movie to remember the names that Dumas used? Why not drop the “Aramis, Athos, Porthos” thing and given them action names like Speed, Chev, and Tucker. One can only imagine director Anderson must’ve been tempted to do this in the middle of production.
REWATCHABILITY: Musketeers might be able to live on in chunks of re-runs on cable TV. To sit through this again from start to finish would definitely be a chore, however.
Made possible by what seems like a hundred German production companies, The Three Musketeers is a dorky popcorn movie adaptation that aims for the ridiculous side of anachronistic story telling, but lacks any of the winking wit to be even passable brain candy. With its decision to forgo much of the reality of the time in which it is set, Musketeers never acknowledges just how silly all of it is.
It’s more like Musketeers is a cliché action movie, begrudgingly set in the time writer Alexandre Dumas originally intended. Just look at the presence of “air-ships,” (ships that are turned into blimps) swords that are also guns, and booby-trapped security halls that shoot mini cannon balls to trespassers. This movie is pointlessly in its period. In fact, it’s pointlessly even a movie called The Three Musketeers.
The Three Musketeers is a ridiculous action flick soggy with clichés that takes the fun out of anachronistic storytelling. It puts the “dumbass” in Dumas.
FINAL SCORE: 3/10