Friday, October 14, 2011

All for one and one for all!

Hello I am the movie encyclopedia and if no one else will see it, I will.

Alexandre Dumas probably had no idea when he was writing The Three Musketeers that it would ever be adapted into a film like this. Granted he had no idea what film was in general but you get the idea. Many Musketeer films in the past have tried to emulate the book to a tee, or at the very least stay within a reasonable continuity that could do the book some justice. Paul W.S Anderson saw the book, flipped through a few pages to find a female badass character (it can't be an Anderson film without his wife Milla Jovovich now can it) and then tossed the book behind his shoulder and said "F**k it I'll make it up as I go." Or at least that seems what is most likely considering the new Three Musketeers movie is one of the most ludicrous, stupid, over the top, confusing films that I've seen in a long time and defecates on Alexandre Dumas' grave. And while there is a lot of negative things to say about the film, honestly I didn't hate it. In fact for all it's stupidity it was at least entertaining and tongue in cheek enough that I could somewhat respect what Anderson was going for here.
The plot follows the three musketeers Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Porthos (Ray Stevenson) and Aramis (Luke Evans). After a failed mission in which they are betrayed by a freelance assassin named Milady (Jovovich), they are put out of commission and spend most of their time drinking and getting into fights. They seem content with this until a brash, cocky, arrogant son of a musketeer D'Artagnan (Logan Lerman) shows up and causes a fuss, which gets their blood flowing again. Soon after D'Artagnan shows up and starts hanging around the Musketeers, they get knee deep in a conspiracy that is led by Milady and an evil Cardinal (Christoph Waltz) who want an all out war between France and Europe (led by Orlando Bloom) which will ultimately end with the Cardinal somehow becoming the leader of France. Now it's up to the Musketeers and D'Artagnan to stop this before it's too late.

It's actually a fairly straightforward plot and besides Anderson's knack for putting in irritable cliffhangers at the end of all his movies now, the film pretty much resolves itself in its little over 100 minute run time. There isn't too many scenes of pointless dialogue and for the most part the action is always moving. Anderson knows how to make an action movie, even if the movie itself isn't all that great. The writing is littered with one liners that, while cheesy, contain some chuckles and for the most part the film doesn't take itself too seriously. In a lot of ways I look at this film as a satire or an action comedy rather than a straightforward action film. Characters chew the scenery, face palm moments happen once a scene, and I swear some pieces of the film are lifted from other films of its type.   
The acting, for the most part is actually quite decent, although it's hammier than a Christmas dinner. You can tell all three of the Musketeers are enjoying themselves and when an actor is having fun, the audience tends to have fun too. You will probably groan a lot (I know I did), but Macfadyen especially knew how to win me over when it mattered. Lerman though is a bit of a weak link as his humor and attitude come off more arrogant and cocky rather than funny. I realize that is the kind of character he is supposed to be, but if I want to punch you repeatedly every time I see your face, you may want to pull it back a little. Also the females, sans Jovovich, are all criminally underwritten and D'Artagnan's love interest Constance comes off as wooden and stilted. Juno Temple tries to liven things up a little as the Queen of France, but doesn't have enough screen time to really accomplish anything.

The villains are a mixed bag of crazy ham but all have this over the top giddiness (at least Bloom and Waltz do) that makes them almost Bond villain esque in nature. Waltz definitely steals the show though with some great near fourth wall breaking moments ("Is this the part where I'm supposed to laugh maniacally and reveal some sort of evil plan to you?") and chews the scenery like its candy. Waltz can out-villain anyone it seems nowadays. Bloom, for the short time he's in the movie, does well but comes off more Ziggy Stardust meets 30s mustache twirling villain rather than actually evil. And Jovovich is Jovovich. Basically imagine Alice from Resident Evil but doing all her stunts in full collared Victorian garb. Silly, but impressive nevertheless.
The action is aplenty in this film with slo-mo fight scenes (a trademark of a Paul W.S. Anderson film), swordplay and explosions/destruction but to Anderson's credit he didn't abuse the slo-mo as much as he has in the past. In fact he has started incorporating a little fast motion too. It's all quite over the top and ludicrous (air ships, automatic cannon guns, flamethrowers) but it's fun and I was certainly entertained.  The 3D is impressive too for what it is (really adds to the big sword fights and the slo-mo scenes) but if you have a choice go 2D.

It's nothing like the book, full of ham and cheese, over the top, stupid and features some meh acting, but overall Three Musketeers should be looked at as a comedy, or a guilty pleasure at least. It has plenty of action, everyone is having fun, Waltz is Waltzing the s**t out of his role, and it's so stupid it treads into awesome territory. If you go in with an open mind you might enjoy it, just don't expect an Academy Award winning film.


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