Win The Three Musketeers goodies!
When D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) heads off to Paris to join the King’s famed Musketeers, he finds the order has been disbanded as the evil Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) sets his eyes on the throne. The young man chances upon the luck trio of Athos (Matthew Macfayden), Porthos (Ray Stevenson) and Aramis (Like Evans) as a plot emerges to trick the naïve King Louis XIII (Freddie Fox) into taking on the English forces led by the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom). Oh and there’s much flailing around by the often nefarious Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich).
Paul W.S. Anderson helms this latest adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ much filmed novel and predictably enough the director behind Resident Evil and Aliens vs. Predator isn’t content with a straight period film, upping the action ante and introducing all manner of changes which are sure to drive purists mad.
But the truth is the embellishments by Anderson and writers Andrew Davies and Alex Litvak take the premise we’re all overly familiar with (at times it feels like a total retread of the starry 1993 Disney version) and peppers it with things you wish actually existed in 17th Century France – like machine guns, rebreathers and… air-ships. The latter gives the filmmakers the chance to take to the skies for a series of aerial battles, full of cannon fire and pyrotechnics, that gives the film enough scope and verve to set it apart from the other adaptations.
The action is frequently over the top and often errs on the side of the improbable, particularly when it comes to the bullet dodging ridiculousness of Jovovich’s escapades. Another unique element is the use of 3D and Anderson proves once more, as he did in Resident Evil: Afterlife, that he has an affinity for the system, providing plenty of moments of presence and depth as well as the current holy grail of extra dimensional movie-making – properly lit scenes.
The rigours of 3D filming are not without issue though – the film sometimes has a plastic sheen which diminishes the effect of the strong production design. And while the openly over the top tone – complete with touches like introducing the main characters with freeze frame comic book panels – is certainly enjoyable, it never quite decides how much of a parody it wants to be. While there are dark elements to be found here, like the tortured character of Macfayden’s Porthos, they’re too often neutered by overly comedic moments – particularly the insufferably broad James Corden. Perhaps he’s merely meant to be a blatant nod to Roy Kinnear’s character from the 1973 version but his presence weakens the production.
The surprisingly well appointed cast does what it can with pretty limp material – Macfayden is memorable, Stevenson is amiable as ever and young Freddie Fox does well with the character of King Louis. Less successful is lead Logan Lerman, who seems confused as to how he landed the part, and a mis-cast Orlando Bloom, while Jovovich’s performance is alarmingly erratic, perhaps her husband didn’t dare give her notes.
The action is frequently enjoyable, though prone to the usual over-editing and the set pieces are certainly of a larger scale than we are used to in these adaptations. You may think The Three Musketeers looks utterly preposterous, and you would be right, but the end result is more entertaining than you might expect.