The Three Musketeers

Dir: Paul W.S. Anderson
Star: Logan Lerman, Matthew Macfadyen, Milla Jovovich, Ray Stevenson

Having endured another of Anderson's remakes (Death Race), I was braced to hate this, but it turns out to be decent enough: while not without plenty flaws, it's lively, looks beautiful (credit cinematographer Glenn McPherson there, I guess), and manages to add its own twists, while retaining the spirit of all the predecessors. As there, D'Artagnan (Lerman) heads to Paris, hoping to follow in his father's footsteps and become a Musketeer. There, he meets and eventually joins Athos (McFadyen), Porthos (Stevenson) and...the other one, to take on the dastardly Cardinal Richelieu and protect the King from the machinations of him and Mi'Lady (Jovovich), saving France. The plot here, involves Richelieu trying to spark war between France and England, by fabricating an affair between the Queen and the English Lord Buckingham, which would allow him to seize power, by offering the strong leadership the country needs. Oh, and there are entirely implausible, but undeniably impressive F-sized airships, built from Da Vinci's blueprints, which the Musketeers liberate out of a Venetian vault in the opening sequence.

Ever tried to get through the book? It's close to unreadable, being painfully obvious that Alexandre Dumas was getting paid by the word. The films have generally been better, though this is hampered by the utterly forgettable lead - Lerman has not improved one whit since being just as one-dimensional in Percy Jackson. When he's not around, and presuming you can ignore the fact the film cares not one whit for your "historical accuracy", this is enjoyable enough as a large-scale spectacle - if you don't get at least a twitch of a gasp for a couple of the shots showcasing the airships, you're likely an extra on The Walking Dead, and Jovovich kicks arse in a way entirely unexplored by all previous adaptations. Anderson displays his usual decent eye for action, though it's a shame an equal amount of effort wasn't put into the dialogue, which is nowhere near as sharp and pointed as the swords, and this does hamper the character development. Still, let's face it: the original novel was not much more than a potboiler, designed as an effective machine to separate consumers from their cash. This is likely closer to its inspiration in spirit than most adaptations.

[December 2012]

Three's a crowd
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