Let me just start by saying:
- Matthew Macfadyen (Athos / MI-5) is no Oliver Reed.
- Ray Stevenson (Porthos / Thor, Punisher: War Zone, Rome) is no Frank Finlay
- Luke Evans (Aramis / Clash of the Titans, Immortals) is no Richard Chamberlain
- Logan Lerman (D'Artagnan / Percy Jackson) is no Michael York
- Mads Mikkelsen (Rochefort / Valhalla Rising, Casino Royale) – is no Christopher Lee
- Orlando Bloom (Duke of Buckingham / Lord of the Rings) is no Simon Ward
- Milla Jovovich (Milady de Winter / Resident Evil) is no Faye Dunaway
- Christoph Waltz (Cardinal Richelieu / Inglorious Basterds) is no Charlton Heston
- Freddie Fox (King Louis XIII of France / The Shadow Line) is no Jean-Pierre Cassel
- Paul W.S. Anderson (Mortal Kombat, Event Horizon, Soldier, Resident Evil, AVP: Alien vs. Predator, Death Race, Resident Evil: Afterlife) is no Richard Lester
- Okay, the screenwriters, Alex Litvak and Andrew Davies, have done better work overall than George MacDonald Faser, but not with The Three Musketeers property
In fact, the only actors on that list that could even compare to the performers in the 1973 version of The Three Musketeers are maybe Ray Stevenson and Mads Mikkelsen (although I don't know how good their comedy chops are). That could be your review right there, combined with some free-associations about the other films the writers and director have made.
To put it plainly, this movie is bad.
Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad.
Even the packaging is ugly and poorly put together.
I had to watch the 1973 version to wash the foul taste out of my soul after watching this absolute waste of time and energy, just to see if the original (which shares virtually all of its plot points, thanks to the shared source material – except for dumbing them down to Ritalin-induced cartoon levels, amping up the stupidity to eleven, and adding flying boats and clockwork vaults) had maybe been just as dumb as this one and I just had fond memories from childhood viewings.
Richard Lester's version, while silly and sex-rompy at times, is superior to this trash in every single way imaginable. For example, in the original confrontation with the Cardinal's guards, it's the Three Musketeers and D'Artangnan against seven or eight guards while a small group of nuns look on and tut – and no one is killed. It's an awkward and brutal brawl that ends with everyone groaning and D'Artangnan comically offering a healing salve his mother sent with him to Paris.
In the new version, our "heroes" fight FORTY guards, and seem to be murdering them all in the streets with slow-motion wire-fu, while crowds of peasants look on and cheer. That right there symbolizes everything that is wrong with this venture. It's stupid, loud, and the sort of storytelling one would expect from an ADD child on crank.
And if I never see Logan Lerman in a film again, it'll be too soon. His D'Artangnan is just awful on every level. His performance is the absolute worst of the memorize-your-lines-and-hit-your-marks-so-we-can-go-get-lunch performances in the film.
I don't know if it's the horribly overused and out-of-character hyper-stylized action sequences that put me off more, or the casual murdering of dozens of people by our "heroes." It could be the atrocious excuse for swordplay, or maybe the inability of any of the actors to deliver their lines as though they were actually getting paid for the job.
Actually, that's probably more the fault of the mass of clichés and bungled opportunities that is the script.
I would like to say, though, that I still love Stevenson and Mikkelsen and will continue to watch anything they are in. The same goes for Jovovitch, but that's probably only due to some psychological glitch on my part. It's going to take a while for me to trust Waltz again.
This is an utterly joyless affair that was painful to watch. And that's coming from a reviewer who loved Anderson's Resident Evil films (a guilty pleasure that I can offer no valid explanation for). Thank goodness I didn't have to watch this crap in 3-D.
The only good thing I have to say about this garbage is that is beautiful garbage. The Bavarian sets that are substituting for Venice and Paris are magnificent and the design is a wonder to behold. The costuming is also very impressive. I will even say that the flying boats, which I love in theory, are gorgeously put together, even if they are ineptly utilized.
Someday, Anderson will direct a good script with actors who care and it will be magnificent.
The Blu-ray release features a number of deleted scenes that are just as good as anything else in the film, so perhaps the entire thing should have been deleted. I refused to punish myself with the filmmakers' audio commentary. But the Behind-the-Scenes featurettes were actually very informative, entertaining, and are probably the only thing worth watching on this disc.
- Directed by. Paul W. S. Anderson
- Written by: Alex Litvak (Predators) and Andrew Davies (Bridget Jones)
- Starring: Milla Jovovich, Matthew Macfadyen, Luke Evans, Ray Stevenson, Orlando Bloom, Logan Lerman, Mads Mikkelsen, Freddie Fox, and Christoph Waltz
The Three Musketeers is available on DVD, Blu-ray, and VOD March 13th. Be warned.
Paul Brian McCoy is the writer of Mondo Marvel and a regular contributor to Shot for Shot, Streaming Pile O' Wha?, and Classic Film/New Blu, all here at Comics Bulletin. His first novel, The Unraveling: Damaged Inc. Book One is on sale now for Kindle US, Kindle UK, and Nook. You can also purchase his collection of short stories, Coffee, Sex, & Creation at Amazon US and UK. He is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, and sci-fi television. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at @PBMcCoy and blogging occasionally at Infernal Desire Machines.