The classic novel The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas is probably one of the most adapted stories of all time and this is about the third high profile adaption that was made in my lifetime. When comparing this film to the others, I probably like it better than 2001’s The Musketeer, but this film doesn’t really hold a candle to the excellent 1993 Disney adaptation.
I thought that this film started off decent enough. I liked the actors playing the Musketeers (Matthew Macfadyen, Luke Evans and Ray Stevenson) and I even appreciated the fact that, even though the film retained its period setting, it now had a modern tone in terms of action and language. Also, the 3D effects weren’t half bad (it helps that the film was actually filmed with 3D cameras, rather than converted in post-production).
Then D’Artagnan was introduced…
D’Artagnan was played by Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson & the Olympians) and he came off as a very smug and arrogant pretty boy and I dreaded every moment he was on screen. The sad thing is, he is one the central characters of the story.
Despite the title of the film, the Three Musketeers disappear for a large chunk of the second act, at which time there is a lot more talk than action. In fact, there is very little actual swordplay in this film. There is a large scale sword fight towards the end of the first act, which left me wanting more. However, without spoiling too much, director Paul W.S. Anderson seemed to opt for a climax that was more Pirates of the Caribbean than Three Musketeers. There was a one-on-one swordfight right towards at the end of the film, but it almost seemed like an afterthought and it was over too soon.
There is also no less than four villainous characters in the film. The traditional Three Musketeers villain, Cardinal Richlieu (Christoph Waltz), is a bit more of a backroom schemer in this film, with most of the true villainous tasks going to either Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich) and Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen). Rochefort comes off as the true central villain in the film, while Milady has Jovovich using her moves from the Resident Evil series in a period setting (including one scene where she is only wearing a corset). One villainous role I was quite impressed with was Orlando Bloom going completely over-the-top as the evil Duke of Buckingham. He was so good, I wished that he had a more central role in the film.
Overall, I wouldn’t say that Paul W.S. Anderson’s new adaptation is overall a bad film and the only part of the film I truly hated was the characterization of D’Artagnan, to the point I was actually rooting for the villains to just kill him and get it over with (the plot of the novel was changed enough in this film that I thought that it wouldn’t really matter). That said, there were still parts of the film that I liked and overall it was a decent way to spend a Sunday afternoon.