The Three Musketeers is like a packet of cigarettes. It comes with a very clear health warning. It appears on all the posters and promotional material for the film. If you read it though and decide to venture forth into your local multiplex, then you do so at your own peril. For this is a film ‘Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson’. And no, that’s not the guy who gave us Magnolia and There Will Be Blood.
Paul THOMAS Anderson: director of There Will Be Blood and other great films
Paul W.S. Anderson: director of Alien vs. Predator and other assorted crap
The inferior of the two Paul Andersons has brought us such classics as Resident Evil, Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil: Afterlife. Staying true to form Anderson has now chosen to adapt Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers. Has this man ever had an original idea in his life? Apparently not.
The film follows the Musketeers and their new recruit D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) as they try to stop a plot by Cardinal Richlieu (Christoph Waltz) to take control of the French crown. Well, that’s supposed to be the plot but you could be forgiven for thinking the film didn’t have one.
The sword fights are decent. I can’t think of anything else nice to say.
The Three Musketeers suffers from that time-honored American tradition of making the bad guys European. Cardinal Richlieu, Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen) and Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich) are all hissable villains from Europe. The Musketeers however are likable Brits, Matthew Macfadyen (Athos), Ray Stevenson (Porthos), and the other one that doesn’t get to do very much. The problem with our three Musketeers is that they aren’t leading men. They are good actors, but asking them to carry a film just doesn’t work. They all do well in supporting roles but at the forefront they collectively lack the charisma of one Ryan Reynolds.
Ryan Reynolds: ‘More charisma than all three Musketeers combined’
The plot of the film is almost non-existent. The faint one that is there is laughable. The view of everyone involved in this seems to have been that no one will care about the plot as long as the action keeps on coming. This means that you don’t really have time to care about the characters. There is more slow-motion in this film than there is characterisation. This would be fine if the action was enthralling and the slow-motion had a purpose, but unfortunately that is not the case.
The slow-motion in the film is awful. It’s jarring and pointless. It tends to be the lazy way to make something look cool. Unfortunately for Anderson it has the opposite effect. The sword fights work well when shown at full speed; slowing them down just ruins the pace of the action. I didn’t see the film in 3D, but there are some shots that are clearly designed to use it to its full effect (sword in your face!). I can’t imagine this makes up for what is a wholly poor film however.
By the time Orlando Bloom appears in his airship you will soon realise that this is a film that you can’t even openly mock. It’s just not worth the effort (I do realise the irony of saying that and writing a 700 word review). Bloom has the hammiest of roles and somehow manages to underplay it. His Duke of Buckingham looks like a vaudeville villain; he even has the moustache for it. Bloom still can’t muster the performance for what could have been a career reviving role. I think it’s time young Orlando realised that his career has come to an ignominious end and he needs to stop before he ends up like Edward Furlong.
Edward Furlong: “I was in a good movie once!”
There is much wrong with The Three Musketeers, but what nudges it in to six-pack territory is Logan Lerman, who plays D’Artagnan. It’s unfortunate that he has been told to keep his accent for the film. An American accent in 17th century France just doesn’t sound right. It’s like when Costner kept his Californian twang for Robin Hood. It sounds terrible and grates for the whole film. It also doesn’t help that he comes across as being extremely annoying. He’s young and definitely has a bright future, but this was a definite misstep in a fledgling career. If he’s lucky he won’t end up like Edward Furlong. Or worse, Orlando Bloom.
Orlando Bloom: “I was in a good movie once too !”
If you liked any previous Anderson films then you may enjoy this. If you have any taste then you won’t. We didn’t need another Musketeer film, and we certainly didn’t need another Paul W.S. Anderson film. Avoid unless extremely pissed drunk.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever Aramis actually gets to say something.
Take a Drink: whenever D’Artagnan acts like a cocky bastard.
Take a Drink: whenever something historically inaccurate appears (airship, Orlando Bloom, etc..)
Take a Drink: whenever the camera leers over Milla Jovovich
Drink a Shot: every time they say ‘all for one, and one for all’.