DVD The Three Musketeers
There have been a handful of film adaptations of Alexandre Dumas’ famous 17th century novel, some better than others. This particular version will undoubtedly fall into the ‘others’ category, as it calls out to the younger generation for its target audience.
Amidst fireworks illuminating the night sky in Venice, three Musketeers, Athos (Matthew Mcfadyen), Porthos (Ray Stevenson), Aramis (Luke Evans) and Athos’ immaculately dressed lover, Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich), descend on Da Vinci’s vault, an ornate underground cellar containing the blueprints to some of his greatest inventions. Unfortunately, Milady de Winter betrays them all, and they are left at the mercy of the sly Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom).
A year later, the young D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) travels to Paris, seeking to join the elite Musketeers, but due to an overconfident attitude and a sneering remark about his horse Buttercup, he finds himself sword to pistol with Comte Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen), Captain of the Cardinal’s guards.
Just surviving this encounter, he inadvertently knocks into each of the semi-retired Musketeers and swiftly challenges them all to a duel. After discovering a plot devised by Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) to overthrow the King and put himself on the throne at the expense of the Queen, the Three Musketeers and D’Artagnan band together to save the Queen’s honour and their country from an impending war with England…
With Paul W.S Anderson at the helm, director of the action horror Resident Evil, the questionable Alien vs. Predator and Mortal Kombat, the action scenes are well mapped out and stuffed with explosions and bits of castle flying everywhere. It must also be noted that although the Blu-ray release comes with a 3D version for all those equipped with the right technology, the 2D version (which this writer laboriously scrutinized) will probably suffice.
The cast are given plenty of generic clichéd lines which are peppered throughout.
The script is rather poor, which is a shame as writers Alex Litvak and Andrew Davies had a capable cast at their command, plus the outstanding beauty of the Bavarian palaces. The narrative weaves in and out of Dumas’ novel, adding bits that allow for the climactic battle between two airships. It also lacks depth of character history, and although Aramis’ past as a man of the cloth is glossed over, none of the other Musketeer’s history is mentioned, such as the relationship between Athos and Milady. If you’re going to mess around with a classic 17th century tale by throwing in the aforementioned war dirigibles and explosives, you might as well crack the whip and insist that an unbelievably outrageous back-story is sandwiched in between the main events, like Porthos’ disturbing childhood living with opium smoking Siamese twins or Aramis’ curious aversion to pineapple, for example.
The cast are given plenty of generic clichéd lines which are peppered throughout, and are, at best, cringe worthy. Halfway through the film, little idiosyncrasies start to scratch at your concentration; you’ll be wondering why all the buildings in Paris look so clean, and inquiring as to how Milady is able to perform Matrix-style action sequences wearing the voluminous garb of that period. Because, by now, you’ve drifted away from the mediocre things D’Artagnan is saying and are gazing contentedly at the scenery. Before long, though, somebody will say something so banal, you immediately snap back to attention and stare aghast at the perpetrator, shaking your head and wondering if they read the script before they agreed to anything. Incidentally, the reason this Paris appears to have just come out of its plastic wrapping is because it is mainly CGI, which, although possibly a travesty when talking about portraying a city some four hundred years ago, works well with the film’s vivid and glossy image.
In contrast to the computerized exterior, the internal shots of the childish King Louis’ palace are most astonishing. Filmed in various locations around Bavaria, Germany, the film takes some of the country’s most beautiful architecture and displays it with pride. Castle Herrenchiemsee contains the famed Hall of Mirrors, a magnificent corridor lit by two thousand candles and seventeen arched windows, and is the setting for a discussion between Milady and Cardinal Richelieu as they continue to plot a war between France and England.
The costumes are fantastic and are best displayed on the female characters, although Buckingham and King Louis are also given illustrious outfits from the start, which are bright, lavish and a point of obsession for the style conscious young King as he jealously frets over Buckingham’s fashion choices.
The cast are good it’s fair to say, given the unfunny script, although the titular characters don’t seem to invoke the vehement patriotism their literary counterparts suggest – Bloom has fun playing a hammy theatrical villain as the dastardly Duke of Buckingham ,while Jovovich schemes and smiles beatifically, avoiding various traps by performing lithe acrobatic feats. Christoph Waltz is superb as the conspiring Cardinal Richelieu. Light comedy is provided in the form of Planchet, the Musketeers assistant and verbal whipping post, played by James Cordon, whilst Mads Mikkelsen moonlights as Rochefort, staring coldly from his one good eye. The younger actors will appeal to younger members of the audience, with Fox playing a very camp and fractious young King Louis and Lerman the headstrong and cocky D’Artagnan.
As long as there are no underlying expectations for historical accuracy, or that you will watch a true to the book adaptation, Anderson’s The Three Musketeers can just about be enjoyed as a fun, light-hearted family film.
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