The Three Musketeers

Director: Paul W S Anderson
Starring: Logan Lerman, Milla Jovovich and Matthew MacFayden
Distributor: Hoyts
Runtime: 110 mins. Reviewed in Nov 2011
| JustWatch |
Rating notes: Action violence

Paul W S Anderson’s 3D revamp of The Three Musketeers is a fantastical reinterpretation of Alexandre Dumas’ classic swashbuckling tale, which turns the novel’s ‘caped crusaders’ into strangely anachronistic superheroes.

Set in France during the reigns of Louis XIII, and scripted by Alex Litvak (Predators), Anderson’s The Three Musketeers sticks close to the storyline as adapted in earlier, sometimes better screen versions (in all, fifty films and serials have been made from Dumas’ novel since the beginning of cinema).

D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief) is a poor young nobleman from Gascony in south-west France, who travels to Paris to join the Musketeers Guard. On arrival, he falls foul of the dangerous Count of Rochefort (Mads Mikkelson) almost immediately, and picks fights with the three musketeers Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Aramis (Luke Evans) and Porthos (Ray Stevenson), who he later befriends.

Rochfort is the right-hand man of Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz), the powerful adviser of the foppish young king Louis XIII (Freddy Fox), who is married to the beautiful Queen Anne of Austria (Juno Temple).

Anne’s lover is the English Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom), and to consolidate his authority over France and the king, Richelieu connives with the help of the double-agent Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich) to expose Anne’s affair with Buckingham, and thus provoke war with England – a scheme which brings the three musketeers (plus one) back from retirement.

Geared for younger audiences with toned-down violence relative to its action-adventure theme, Athos, dour and unsmiling, is introduced as a ‘Creature from the Blue Lagoon’ emerging from the murky, swamp-like waters of a17th century moat, while Aamis, an ex-priest, jumps from a high parapet clutching a rosary, before landing like a black-clad Spiderman onto a gondolier in Venice.

Porthos is cast as a better-looking Hulk, tearing his chains from the walls and bringing down the dungeon on his enemies, much like Samson, whereas D’Artagnan, the hot-headed young nobleman, is portrayed as just a cocky country kid with a lot to learn.

The Three Musketeers makes good use of its 3D Format, and is filled with wild and extravagant flights of fancy, not all of which work. The most impressive are the flying boats, the result of the Musketeers improbably finding plans of Leonardo Da Vinci’s for airships in a hidden vault in Venice.

A spoof of Entrapment involving Milady as Catherine Zeta Jones is clever but silly, much like the outrageous costumes and haircuts, Orlando Bloom’s especially. Christoph Waltz is wasted as Richelieu, while Fox is funny and whimsical as poor Louis. All of which makes The Three Musketeers very much hit and miss, and not for everyone.

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