The classic Alexandre Dumas tale The Three Musketeers is resurrected yet again for the big screen, bringing to life everything from the book, from extensive swordplay to computer-generated airships. Director Paul W.S. Anderson, who unfortunately makes a lot more movies than director Paul Thomas Anderson, does what he does best: make an action movie on a seemingly nonexistent script. Somehow, he sort of pulls it off. Almost. And sort of.
Made for 3D theaters, this literarily raped version of The Three Musketeers has everything you'd expect from a movie made for 3D theaters, namely 3D things like swords and Gabriella Wilde's bust. Since no one saw The Three Musketeers in theaters and most consumers have established they have no interest in three-dimensional televisions, all of those gimmicks, save for Gabriella Wilde's bust, just look strange.
For what it's worth, Anderson does assemble some fairly extensive (I did use the word "elaborate" in my first draft, but that word exaggerates the truth) action sequences featuring his three musketeers (played admirably by Matthew Macfadyen, Luke Evans and Ray Stevenson) and young D'Artagnan (Logan Lerman, who makes for an energetic lead protagonist). Fans who are content with action and nothing else will be satisfied with Anderson's creation.
As with so many mid-tier action movies, the problem is not the lack of action so much as it is the lack of distinctive action. There are some pretty good and entertaining sequences scattered throughout the film, but none that would be defined as breathtaking, gripping or must-see. Anderson comes close a few times, but never hits the jackpot. Oddly, there is one scene that is reminiscent of the Save Morpheus sequence in The Matrix, only instead of helicopters and machine guns and evil computer programs, there are airships and machine guns and evil people in funny outfits. It's almost as cool, though.
Please note my sarcasm.
On the topic of airships, they don't ruin the movie as much as they did the trailers (why, oh why, did the marketing department show the airships in the trailers?), even if they are ludicrous. Airships worked in Stardust because that movie was supposed to be absurd; in The Three Musketeers, they just beg the question: why? Nonetheless, by the time they make their auspicious introduction and become a facet of the storyline, or what there is of a storyline, so many stupid things have occurred that their presence is merely shrug-worthy.
I should note it did take me an hour to figure out that Orlando Bloom, the villain, and Luke Evans, who plays Aramis, are not the same person.
The Three Musketeers is one of those movies that tries, and fails, to modernize a perfectly good story for no particular reason. To call it a failure wouldn't be completely fair, as it meets and even exceeds the expectations set by Paul W.S. Anderson's overall body of work, but it's understandable why this movie fizzled at theaters. The Three Musketeers is neither a waste of time nor a good use of time; it's an action movie with swordplay, airships and Gabriella Wilde's bust. There are much worse things in this world.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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