Paul W.S. Anderson may be the director with the highest number of utterly awful movies on his resumé. In fact, after the extreme disappointment of last year’s Resident Evil: Afterlife, I had pretty much sworn that I’d never watch another movie of his ever again. Lucky for him, then, that I went into The Three Musketeers on impulse, not realizing it was one of his. He has one of those common names that are hard to remember.
Anyway, The Three Musketeers has been done in many versions, and you’d have to do something pretty different to justify yet another incarnation of it. I thought the trailers looked pretty fun, and (like Anderson, it almost pains me to say) I have a thing for Milla Jovovich. So I thought I’d give it a go, despite, and because of, my having really disliked the previous couple of musketeer movies. I felt that they could only keep doing abysmal musketeer movies for so long; eventually sheer probability should favor a good one.
And the wonder happened: it was pretty good. Of course, much of it was sheer nonsense (and no, the three musketeers still did not actually have muskets), but for a comical fantasy/action movie, that’s okay. What, you want a summary? Let’s see. Well, there’s this diamond necklace. Milady de Winter is an all-round duplicitous cat burglar and self-employed Mission: Impossible operative, and in a nefarious scheme thought up by cardinal Richelieu, she steals the necklace… and things get complicated. The English king is involved, and a charge of infidelity, and the necklace is sort of the key to it all. So, a lady-in-waiting to the French queen asks D’Artagnan and his musketeer mates to retrieve the necklace, which involves flying to England in a commandeered airship, aaand… Action! The big finish include the Notre Dame, great sword-fights and crashing airships. More 3-D zaniness than you can shake a stick at. Pretty good stuff.
The movie, being fantasy adventure with a touch of parody, does have several nods to the Resident Evil movies, and with airships based on Da Vinci designs it was actually almost as entertaining as I’d hoped it would be. The acting, by everyone involved, was better than the material warranted, the effects and situations were truly spectacular, esp. at the climax, and what we end up with, therefore, is a great romp filled to the brim with heroes, fools and luscious ladies. Some of the dialogue was good fun, while other parts were the usual tired sitcom clichés. The plot was neither really simple nor complex, but it threatened to overrun itself, what with nefarious schemes being thwarted by other nefarious schemes, and then derailed by even more nefarious schemes before said schemes could play themselves out. After it had been across the channel a few times, I began to lose track of what the hell the big political significance of the diamond necklace was.
But I’ll say this: I was entertained. The comedy subplot with the young French king and his romance and wardrobe problems was very effective, and all the plotlines wrapped up very nicely by the end. Being the eternal optimist, I had hoped for something even better, but what I got was actually very, very close to my expectations. Despite the hated director. As they say, even a blind hen sometimes finds a grain of corn.
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Matthew Macfadyen, Orlando Bloom, Logan Lerman, Ray Stevenson, Luke Evans, Christoph Waltz, Mads Mikkelsen, Juno Temple, Gabriella Wilde, Carsten Nørgaard
Runtime: 110 min.
Country: Germany / France / UK / USA