Now Showing on Cable: “The Three Musketeers”

Alexandre Dumas first published “Les Trois Mousquetaires” in 1844. It tells the tale of a young man who travels to Paris in order to join the Musketeers of the Guard, a light cavalry unit charged with protecting the King of France. The tale has become a classic, still widely available in print today, and has seen iterations in nearly every form of media there is; there have been tv shows, radio programs, video games and of course numerous films.

I have to imagine though, if Dumas saw this particular iteration, by Paul W.S. Anderson of “Resident Evil” fame, his thought would be “What the $&#% is this?

From the very first scene, when a steampunk frogmen Musketeer emerges from underwater and assassinates a handful of guards using mechanized weaponry, only to have Mila Jovovich’s Milady de Winter appear from nowhere to put a pistol to his head, I was like “Oh, boy, here we go”.

Yessss, this particular version of the classic tale features the unmistakeable directorial stylings of Paul W.S. Anderson. Between the ludicrous set-up scenes brimming with stupefying dialogue that connect the dots of the ridiculous plot lie frequent interludes of swashbuckling and cannon fire supplemented by generous portions of cheap CGI. Within minutes of the film’s start, Mila Jovovich is dodging spiked musket shot, matrix style, in super slow motion. Later, she reprises the stunt by making a spinning dive through a hall trapped with razor wire.

Certain elements of the classic tale still remain… D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) still travels to Paris and encounters Athos, Porthos and Aramis (Matthew Macfadyen, Ray Stevenson, and Luke Evans, respectively). Together the quartet do battle against the Cardinal Richelieu’s (Christoph Waltz) forces, led by Captain Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen). The film diverges, however, as the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom) rolls into town with a futuristic blimp based on a design by Leonardo Da Vinci. A tale of quadruple-crossing espionage and political maneuvering unfolds, as Richelieu attempts to embroil France in a war with England in order to seize control of the country, and the Musketeers scramble to foil his plot.

It’s easy, at nearly any given moment in this film to think, “Oh my God, that is so stupid.” Yet… it’s hard for me to imagine that Anderson isn’t “in on the joke.” The movie is set (for the most part) to a bouncy, semi-comedic sounding score. The characters, dialogue, plot and action are all SO ridiculous that its impossible to deny intentionality. Surely, this is an artistic choice as opposed to some failure or shortcoming. So to me, your enjoyment of the film will be a referendum on how much you enjoyment you derive from this particular artiste’s brand of filmmaking. Bad acting, a silly plot, completely unbelievable action… there’s absolutely no objective reason to grade such a movie well aside from the fact that there’s a certain pleasure inherent in completely disengaging the critical functions of your brain and watching something laughable.

As such, this film was a definite candidate for one of my patented “split grades”. It’s impossible to give a legitimately good grade to a film that causes you to think “this is a joke, right?”, yet I’m not too uptight to acknowledge the silly entertainment value such films often present. And for a while, the light, disposable non-taxing nature of this film was winning me over. But the grand finale tipped the scales for me, by the end there was simply TOO MUCH abject stupidity to swallow. So, instead, I’m forced to award it a straight up…

D

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33 thoughts on “Now Showing on Cable: “The Three Musketeers”

  1. “let’s have that Resident Evil guy direct an adaptation of a classic novel, what could possibly go wrong?” Sounds like everything, lol.

    • I… dont really think things went WRONG per se, I think he wanted what he got…. and he has his fans, there are people that like this kind of flick.

      But… I cant get on board with this one. I really did try. At the end though, it beat me down. LOL

    • LOL. He did? :D

      There’s only one road to success for a movie like this, and that’s as a comedy. And it just wasn’t fun or funny enough for me. it threatened for a little while… the beginning was pretty enjoyable. But by the end I felt beat down by the idiocy. LOL

    • LOL, thanks CK. I will say this… they didnt try to bait and switch at ALL. I remember the trailers too, and I knew exactly what I was in for.

      Anderson is consitent in his style, I’ll give him that much ;)

  2. One of these days, Fogs, you’re gonna have to do a review of the “Three Musketeers” films done by Richard Lester. He of A Hard Day’s Night and Superman III fame. The wife and I just watched “Robin And Marian” — done during the same Lester period piece fame where he also did a Flashman movie — and were a little dissatisfied by how schitzophrenic it was. Sometimes its a comedy. Sometimes it’s a tragedy. There are times it’s faithful to the Robin Hood legend at times it tried to do something radically different. By the end we were just shrugging our shoulders. I hear that the “Three Musketeers” (and “Four Muskateers”) movie that he did is sorta in the same spirit of abject confusion.

    • I saw that movie when I was young… it was good, as far as I can remember. I was pretty young though. :D

      LOL. Maybe I’ll do a cheese-tastic classics with the Charlie Sheen/Keifer Sutherland version LOL

  3. It’s stupid and doesn’t do the original piece of work any justice, but it is fun, right? I don’t know, maybe I was in a good-mood seeing this because I surprisingly got invited to a screening for this way back when, but I had a fun-time. That Logan Lerman kid pissed me the hell off after awhile, though. Good review Fogs.

    • I wannnnnnnted to wind up there. Trust me, Dan, I’d have been happy to acknowledge it if I had more fun than not.

      But I just couldnt get there. At the end of the day it was too much Paul W S Anderson for me to take. LOL

  4. Normally I would probably be a defender of this film, as it’s deliberate silliness is so over the top, its sort of irresistible. Plus the inclusion of 2 actor faves of mine, Ray Stevenson and the insanely beautiful Mila Jovovich would normally put it on my “Hells yeah” list… but unfortunately the silliness was just too silly. And the fleet of airships strained the credulity beyond the breaking point.

    Plus I’ve always had a slight problem with films about “Musketeers” where no one even seems to know what a musket looks like.

    • LOL. :D Whaaaaaaat? They all seemes as if they could really do all of those things, man, come on! :D

      I’m with you though. I had an honest to goodness want to like this movie. Early on, I thought they might pull it off, but it was exactly where you said… once they took to the blimps, it just went too far for me. I was willing and ready to “split the grade” for them right up until that point, but after that I was just like, Ugchk…

  5. I like this movie a lot! I don’t agree that it has unbelievable action, the action was very believable to me… I like this movie because it’s one of the few which manages to resurrect that “Raiders of the Lost Ark” adventurous feel. Even the Pirates of the Caribbean didn’t do that for me…

    • You know, I dont blame you… honestly… that’s what I was hoping for here. I had always stayed away from the Resident Evil franchise until blogging forced me to go, and I had so much fun with this last one that I actually hoped that this would deliver. It threatened at times, but, ultimately, I couldnt keep that fun alive. It died at some point along the way. I think Gelf nailed it that it happened around the time the blimps started fighting. Mech.

  6. I was interested in seeing this as a potentially good movie, right up through the first 10 seconds of the trailer. I like Dumas’s work. Still need to read The Vicomte de Bragelonne “trilogy” (really one book split into three) one of these days, but I read and enjoyed both The Three Musketeers and Twenty Years After, and The Count of Monte Cristo (though unrelated) is one of my favorite books. This didn’t look like it would live up to the books. It didn’t look like it would live up to Yippee, Yappee, and Yahooey.

    • Though I’m unfamiliar with Yippee, Yappee, and Yahooey, :D I will certainly confirm your suspicion that this isn’t worthy of the source material. This was one of those super goofy CGI hyper tuned action movies that requires you to completely shut your brain off in order to enjoy it. And frankly, it didnt even work that well on that level.

      • Yup. Nothing says “stay away” like a “turn off your brain” action movie that doesn’t work on even that level, especially when the source material was actually kind of cerebral. YY&Y was a Hanna-Barbera cartoon; dog musketeers, and that probably tells you enough to fill in the details on your own. :D

  7. Wouldn’t steampunk elements still be anachronistic in a film set in the 18th century? It’s still a tad bit too early. Oh, I get it. This is an ‘alternate dimension’ version of the story. It’s the only way my brain will accept what it has just read.

    • I really dont know. I’m not very versed in “Steampunk” I guess. Not enough to get picky over what century its from, at least.

      I will say this. The film had a ton of anachronisms, so if it was one, it would fit right in. :D

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