The Three Musketeers (2011)
O, Three Musketeers, how do I loathe thee? I’d count the ways, but life’s too short, and I’d much rather pen an 800-word critical maelstrom. I shall address you in the form of a letter. Firstly it should be stated, as to clarify my position, that on a scene-by-scene basis you’re possibly the worst mainstream film of 2011. Within your (seemingly endless) 110-minute duration there’s not a single idea which you undertake with charm, wit or grace. You are an unutterable waste of time, effort and money, not to mention human and chemical resources. The light with which you were projected is dead light. I didn’t even know light could be dead until I saw you, and yet it whimpered its final song as you belly-flopped onto screens, pathetic as the day you were conceived. I recently reviewed Abduction (Singleton, 2011), an abysmal tween thriller which my PS3 literally upchucked in protest. Luckily you were viewed on a different player, or else I fear the device would have self-combusted. I don’t care how much you plead. I don’t care how much you beg. There’s no getting out of this one. You are the black hole into which civilization has fallen. I despise you.
To call you an inaccurate adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel would be to unfairly assume that your makers had read, or even cared about that text. I find it hard to imagine how somebody could have taken a story with so much life and character, and sucked every ounce of interest from its metaphorical veins. You are a parasite, Three Musketeers – a leech on the beating heart of popular culture. You have two screenwriters – Alex Litvak and Andrew Davies. Nothing in their back-catalogue could have prepared me for the sheer incompetence with which they have delivered you to the screen. They may as well have re-titled you ‘101 Movie Clichés And How To Use Them‘, because that’s your absolute content. You contain a comic relief character played by British comic James Corden, who is fat and a little bit simple. At certain junctures, when his vapid routines engulfed and made poisonous the frame, I felt like crawling into the fetal position and never EVER breaking from it, so long as life would be continued with the odour of your decay surrounding me.
Your director, Paul W.S. Anderson, strikes fear into my heart. You, Three Musketeers, are his concept of narrative cinema. The grinding sound you hear now is not a 100-maraca procession, but the corpses of D.W. Griffith, David Lean and Steven Spielberg – storytellers whose scope you aspire to – turning in their graves. The latter isn’t even dead yet, which should speak volumes for your incompetence. Anderson’s slow-motion action scenes, involving tripwire explosives and Pirates-style airships, have made a mockery of your source. Are you not ashamed? Even in your best scenes, such as the climactic duel between D’artagnan (Logan Lerman) and Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen), you are deeply derivative of your ancestors, displaying not a smidgen of imagination or originality. Your £75,000,000 budget lays bare your complete lack of ambition – your willingness to throw stuff at the screen and see how much of it sticks. One of those things is Orlando Bloom, introduced in a drugged-out haze which makes him literally indistinguishable from the furniture. Honestly Three Musketeers, you’ve penned your own parody.
Finally we come to your assembled cast, many of them wasted (I say many, for what else would Bloom be doing?) Are you aware that Christoph Waltz could have starred in a David Cronenberg picture, but was instead lured by your riches? Do you realise how much shame he must have buried in order to accept that paycheck? Milla Jovovich plays Milady asResident Evil‘s Alice in a frock, such is the amount of screentime she dedicates to kicking people in the face. Also present here is Mads Mikkelsen, one of the finest actors in contemporary cinema. What did he ever do to you, Three Musketeers? To whom in your production did he owe enough money to warrant this dismal appearance? I’m signing off this letter now, but know that I could have continued. Know that I will never, ever forgive you, so long as I shall live. Know that even if you aren’t quite the worst film of 2011, largely for your unintentional hilarity, then you are by far the most unnecessary. There is not a person on earth that has benefitted from your creation. All have suffered.
The general presentation is perfectly acceptable, but the extras – while quite expansive, comprising a commentary, deleted scenes and three featurettes – are deathly dull.
The Three Musketeers is out on DVD & blu-ray 27th February 2012.
DIRECTOR: PAUL W.S. ANDERSON
SCREENWRITERS: ALEX LITVAK, ANDREW DAVIES
STARRING: LOGAN LERMAN, MATTHEW MACFADYEN, LUKE EVANS, RAY STEVENSON, MILLA JOVOVICH, CHRISTOPH WALTZ, JUNO TEMPLE, JAMES CORDEN, ORLANDO BLOOM, FREDDIE FOX
RUNTIME: 110 MINS
COUNTRIES: UK, USA, FRANCE, GERMANY