The Three Musketeers in 3D - Review
Review by Rob Carnevale
THERE’S a great line in The Shawshank Redemption where an inmate inadvertently picks up a copy of one of Alexandre Dumas’ books and refers to the author as ‘Dumb-ass’. It comes to mind when considering Paul WS Anderson’s revival of The Three Musketeers as this is definitely a film that puts the ‘dumb-ass’ in Dumas.
Anderson has, of course, contributed to some of cinema’s worst films of recent years, whether it’s the never-ending Resident Evil franchise, the horrid Alien Vs Predator spin-offs or the new Death Race franchise. But even he couldn’t have gone too far wrong if he’d stuck to the [tried and tested] template laid down by Dumas.
Instead, the director seeks to ‘embellish’ the Musketeers’ tale with action sequences more befitting a Matrix movie, corsets that would be better suited to James Bond’s high-tec gadgetry and – worst of all – airships… lots of airships.
And all this despite insisting to the press that this is one of the most loyal adaptations in screen history by virtue of the fact he has cast age-appropriate actors in the key roles (D’Artagnan and King Louis in particular) as well as extensively researched the various weapons on show to heighten the period authenticity.
The plot is, by now, familiar to many as a young hot-head named D’Artagnan (Percy Jackson’s Logan Lerman) hooks up with the legendary Three Musketeers (Matthew Macfadyen’s Athos, Ray Stevenson’s Porthos and Luke Evans’ Aramis) to provide swashbuckling assistance to young King Louis (Freddie Fox) against the devious, nay treacherous likes of Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz), M’lady De Winter (Milla Jovovich) and the one-eyed Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen).
To spice things up still further, there’s another adversary in the form of the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom) who is not only responsible for those airships, but one of the worst on-screen quiffs in movie history!
It’s fair to say that little or nothing about this particular Three Musketeers revival works, from the opening introduction to D’Artagnan that feels ripped straight out of Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars to the Venice-based opening sequence that borrows heavily (dare I say steals?) from Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Indeed, by opting to put his own inimitable stamp on proceedings, Anderson has well and truly trodden over the memory of past Musketeers incarnations from Oliver Reed to Kiefer Sutherland via the animated Dogtanian and company.
The action scenes are blunted by the dizzying camera work, which actually enables viewers to see where punches have been pulled, while the performances feel lazy or half-hearted at best.
The musketeers themselves are fine but all too often overlooked in their own film but Lerman’s D’Artagnan is bland and looks ill-suited to the task at hand. You never really believe for one instant that he could hold his own in a fight with anyone.
Waltz, meanwhile, phones in another of his villainous roles, Bloom and Mikkelsen also feel deprived of quality screen-time to make their characters more interesting, and Jovovich is allowed to roam about the place as if she’s time-travelled in from one of her own Resident Evil films.
James Corden, on the other hand, offers a pale and unfunny imitation of the much-loved Roy Kinnear role of Planchet from Richard Lester’s version and crops up just as you think things can’t get any worse.
Admittedly, the production values are lavish but even they pale against the overall shoddiness of proceedings, which end in a protracted airship battle above Paris that seems to ignore the one basic rule of bringing down an airship!
The final insult, meanwhile, comes in the form of an open ending that sees Anderson setting things up for the inevitable sequel – inevitable only because this guy seems to be able to keep creating franchises with no critical backing at all.
Running time: 110mins
UK Release Date: October 12, 2011
- Read our review
- Matthew Macfadyen, Luke Evans & Ray Stevenson interview
- Paul WS Anderson interview
- The Three Musketeers Photo Gallery