I think I now completely understand the perspective of somebody who went to see Darren Aronofsky’s film Noah and didn’t give a damn about the source material before going into it. Through such a perspective, the person who knows nothing may come out with something that the purist wouldn’t have received. I say this, because I more or less know nothing about The Three Musketeers outside of seeing an advert for a hanna barbara cartoon that used the characters in non-canon stories. I haven’t read the book/s, nor have I seen the 1993 film with Tim Curry in it. In the process, I’m aware of the reaction this film got. The purists butchered it until it was pink slime. But what did I think of it?
They were right to do so. This film is really over the top and stupid…and somehow I enjoyed it. Not only in what was done really, really badly, but also in what they did well. So what was good about it? Well first of all, the real star of the film is Glen MacPherson. He doesn’t appear anywhere on screen, not even as an extra, but his work is evident throughout. He’s the cinematographer, and it could be argued that he’s far too good for this film. The cinematography in The Three Musketeers is brilliant! Really, it’s fantastic. It reminds me of Stanley Kubrick films, I literally fell in love how he presented this on screen. Sure, it has moments of Matrix bullet-time, and the slow-motion before impact shots that are popular in Guy Ritchie movies, but I still thought it was amazingly well done. I also loved the choice of locations and the set design. Both of which possessed so much beauty and detail, and shot with great precision. In terms of visual presentation and its use of a wide-angle lens, this film was pure eye-candy. How they presented France, London and Venice…I loved it. For me, this was like porn. I still want more of this loveliness.
Okay, I mentioned the cinematography, set design and location choice…I also liked the costume design and the use of steampunk in this universe. Sure it’s at least 100 years too early to be even remotely logical in existence (Steampunk is normally paired with everything Victorian English), but it was certainly something very different and unique to the table. The action/fight scenes were also great fun. Really over the top and silly. But still good fun.
I’ve mentioned the best aspects, now onto the ordinary, the satisfactory, and the ‘meh’. The quality of the acting was incredibly broad, ranging from great to so bad it’s not good. Who were the best actors? Well, The Three Musketeers themselves were certainly very likeable. Matthew Macfadyen (Ripper Street) played Athos, the leader and also the heartbroken romantic. Ray Stevenson (Volstagg in Marvel’s Thor, also from my hometown) is Porthos, the fashionable 1, but in this film he is also the muscle of the group. And Luke Evans (Bard in The Hobbit) is Aramis, the deeply religious 1 who also comes across as being like an Assassin in Assassins Creed. I honestly wanted to see more of these guys. When they were on screen, they were Antonio-Banderas-Mask-Of-Zorro fun to watch. But I felt that they should have been on screen a lot more. Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds/Django) was great as Richelieu, and Mads Mikkelsen (Hannabil/Casino Royale) did a good job as Rochefort. Now onto the bad. Since this film was directed by Paul W.S. Anderson (Resident Evil movies, Mortal Kombat movie, Alien Vs Predator and Pompeii), you shouldn’t be surprised when he hires Milla Jovovich for an important role. Jovovich plays Milady de Winter, Athos’ ex-wife and an evil spy. Her action scenes were fine and funny, but many times her acting wasn’t great in this film. James Corden (presenter of A League Of Their Own) I guess does okay as Planchett, the Musketeers’ servant. It’s possible that he’s only playing himself and is a form of comic relief…also the long hair style on him reminds me of a blonde version of my 19 year old self. Everybody else is a little mediocre. Particularly of all people, Orlando Bloom as the Duke Of Buckingham, who plays the role like a villain in a children’s pantomime. Great in a pantomime, but I question how well that translates into cinema..he also has great hair in it. But hands down, the worst performance in the whole film goes to Logan Lerman, who plays the role of D’Artagnan, the young and unofficial “fourth” musketeer. This Beverly Hills teenager doesn’t even try to do a regional accent, whether it be english, french or italian. At least Keanu Reeves tried an english accent in Dracula (and failed to legendary proportions). He makes Kevin Costner in Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves sound like Oliver Reed. I know the actor as Ham in the movie Noah, I swear, this guy could be the new Keanu Reeves in terms of effort. Either he studies, learns, develops and becomes good, or he stops now. Because he absolutely sucked in this movie!
What about the story? Good grief what happened to the story?! I haven’t read the book, but I’m sure it was nothing like this! Artistic license? sure. But there isn’t much of a structure to it. It’s just there. It’s a treasure hunt here, a “get the band back together” there, an “overcome the monster” a “Quest for what is stolen” a few “I’m shy and awkward around girls” stories, the rich girl liking the poor boy, the boy trying to prove himself in battle, the epic battle between ships tied to blimps that were apparently designed by Leonardo D’Vinci. It’s a range of different things happening one after another, with little depth, meaning, purpose or development for any of it. People could argue that The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adele Blanc-Sec or some Terry Gilliam movies are this chaotic. But at least those movies had foundations in their stories that balanced the order and chaos on screen, making everything complimentary and in harmony…even in a 4:6 ratio. This was mostly chaos. Enjoyable chaos like finger painting a Jackson Pollock portrait, sure, but still chaos!
In conclusion, this film is a treat for the eyes. Beautiful cinematography (10/10), location choice (10/10), set design (10/10) and even good costume design (8/10). I liked the Three Musketeers themselves, but barely anyone else, which is unfortunate, maybe I should read the book (5/10). The actors of the three musketeers themselves, Rochefort and Richelieu were the best, everyone else was okay, poor or Logan-Lerman-awful (5/10). The Action scenes were fun (8/10) The CGI was very good (8/10). The music was fun but not magical or memorable (7/10). The story was a funny catastrophe (1/10). Overall: 72/100