Review of The Three Musketeers


Movie Review: "The Three Musketeers" --

Rating: PG-13 (action adventure violence)
Length: 110 minutes
Release Date: October 21, 2011
Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson
Genre: Action, Adventure, Romance
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

The story of Alexandre Dumas' "Three Musketeers" has been told in over 20 films. There are usually only small things that differentiate all of them, since most faithfully follow the book. In the case of this 2011 release by director Paul W.S. Anderson, there are lots of changes to the story to keep it fresh. Another thing that differentiates it is the cast.

Few of the more recent "Three Musketeers" adaptations can boast a cast this good. Among the standouts is Christophe Waltz as the villainous Cardinal Richelieu. The Cardinal has his eyes on the throne of France but must first entice France and England into war. To do this, he enlists the help of Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich).

The Cardinal has disbanded the elite force of the French King so that they wouldn't catch on to his machinations. The elite force consisted of the titular three musketeers, Athos (Matthew Mcfayden), Aramis (Luke Evans) and Porthos (Ray Stevenson). The three are now in a type of semi-retirement until a young upstart named D'Artagnan (Logan Lerman) shakes them from their retirement slumber with news of the Cardinal's plan.

D'Artagnan had wanted to become one of the elite force but was turned away. While trying to find out what happened to the musketeers, he unintentionally grabs the attention of Captain Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen), the Cardinal's right-hand (and one-eyed) man. This helps set the state for the adventure that will fill the bulk of the movie.

That is the general blueprint for all "Three Musketeers" movies. This one goes outside that limited box by making a larger role for Milady de Winter. Some critics have suggested that this is because Milla Jovovich is the wife of director Paul W.S. Anderson. While this may be true, the plot differences are mostly appealing and add something new to what would otherwise be a very tired story. Jovovich holds her own in the part, suggesting that it wasn't just nepotism at play when Anderson cast her.

The musketeers themselves are portrayed as super spies of sort. If James Bond existed during the time period the story takes place in, he would likely be one of these musketeers. Of course, the comic element comes in because they tend to bungle things a lot. Despite the bungling, these three versions of the musketeers are still shown to be much smarter than previous film versions. It is not easy to juggle bungling and suave, but this movie tries to do it, with some mixed results.

Director Anderson infuses a lot of his signature style into the film. Anyone who has seen his previous work on the "Resident Evil" franchise knows he likes a lot of slow-motion fight scenes. He also seems to love computer-generated images. Some of the green screen CGI work on this film is obvious, which is a bit of a drawback. It does make up for these shortcomings by being heavy on style. Most of the scenes in the movie are well-framed and look gorgeous.

The movie was shot in 3D, so some of the action really pops out at you. Many films are shot on regular film and then converted later. Since Anderson always had 3D in mind, it makes the use of the technology fun. Since parts of the dialogue from screenwriters Alex Litvak and Andrew Davies are a bit clunky, the 3D sequences are very much needed to lighten the mood.

Director Anderson has essentially taken a classic novel and added his own style to it. Viewers will definitely see the influence of the "Resident Evil" franchise here, and not just because Jovovich is in this film as well. It is because that signature slo-mo style and fight sequence look from Anderson is all over this film.

The biggest drawback besides the occasionally rough dialogue is the accents. There is no consistency to them. Instead, each person just speaks in their natural accent. This can be a real drawback for some who find bad accents distracting. However, those who don't mind and can focus on the story and action instead will find themselves enjoying "The Three Musketeers." The actors are very likable and Waltz chews up the scenery as the Cardinal. Orlando Bloom plays against type to make a deliciously villainous Duke of Buckingham.

With great performances and authentic 3D enhancement, "The Three Musketeers" is purely an entertainment-only film. Don't go into this one expecting to find out about France during the Renaissance or any other history lessons and you'll be just fine.