The Three Musketeers (2011)
Paul W.S. Anderson’s CV hasn’t been any good on the basis of directing and producing a number of films based on video games which have brought out the very worse of cinema. With works such as the neverending Resident Evil series and the half-decent Mortal Kombat, Mr Anderson’s one hot wonder was the sci-fi chiller Event Horizon which has gained a cult following. With the corporate belief that 3D is the future, the Brit director has reinvigorated Alexandre Dumas’ classic 17th century adventure with this gimmicky technology. Fortunately for this critic, I saw this in 2D.
When the young hot-headed D’Artagnan (Lerman) heads to Paris to become a musketeer, he encounters the three former warriors: Athos, Porthos, Aramis (Macfadyen, Stevenson, Evans). Together they must stop the beautiful double agent Milady de Winter (Jovovich) and her employer Cardinal Richelieu (Waltz) from seizing the French throne and engulfing Europe in war.
There have been of course countless versions, including Richard Lester’s two-part adaptation which was fun and cheeky, not least from Raquel Welch. Plus, who can forget the 1993 film by Stephen Herek, in which stars like Kiefer Sutherland and Charlie Sheen have posh mullets to indicate the French period. What Anderson and his screenwriters bring to the story is a steampunk influence as there are a few retro-styled gadgets, as well as the villains’ dastardly plot includes the creation of airships. Although being a neat idea to present the story in a fresh way, it’s more of an excuse of coming up with action set-pieces.
With this modern approach to appeal to today’s mainstream audience, Three Musketeers does seem inferior to what Guy Ritchie did for Sherlock Holmes which a cleverer contemporary direction to its 19th century gothic setting, whilst staying true to what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle envisioned. On the other hand, Anderson manages to keep everything fast-paced, and certainly the film has its swashbuckling moments which are slightly part-Indiana Jones and part-Pirates (aside from Orlando Bloom’s not-so-villainous Duke of Buckingham).
While a lot of the actors have a problem with the dialogue which at times sounds very present (not least from the always annoying James Corden), they manage to be convincing, even in the exuberant outfits and makeup. Whilst all the boys would like to be one of the three musketeers and all the girls would like to be the stunning Milla Jovovich, the best performances come from the young players including Percy Jackson‘s Logan Lerman with his cocky but likable presense, as well as Freddie Fox as the spolied brat of a king Louis XIII who’s quite the scene-stealer.
Presenting The Three Musketeers with this ludicrous approach is perhaps an insult for the Dumas purists, however Paul W.S. Anderson makes his best film since Event Horizon with this decent adventure romp which is silly but never boring.
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