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THE THREE MUSKETEERS: in cinemas now


DISTRIBUTED BY: Entertainment One

REVIEWED BY:Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic

1625 France, and Athos, Porthos and Aramis, the Three Musketeers, undergo a deadly mission for King Louis XIII but are betrayed by the scheming Milady De Winter, who is really working for the evil Cardinal Richleau. He wants to take the throne from the young, weak king, and to do this intends to fabricate infidelity between the Queen and England’s Duke Of Buckingham, thereby causing war and acquiring the throne for himself. Meanwhile the rash, inexperienced D’Artagnan sets out to become a Musketeer just like his father and journeys to Paris. Arriving, he separately challenges Athos, Porthos, Aramis and the vicious Rochefort to duels, but ends up helping the Musketeers defeat fourty of the Cardinal’s soldiers. Perhaps, together, they could be the ones to save France……..

And so once again Alexandre Dumas’ great swashbuckling 1844 novel is adapted for the screen, and one may say why not, it’s worked several times before. The 1948, 1974 and 1993 versions were all merry romps, and I even have a soft spot for the 2001 variation on the story The Musketeer. Unfortunately, this particular version is easily the worst one that I’ve seen, a messy, irritating and dumb  ‘blockbuster’ that is grating and possesses all the worst characteristics of a film of its ilk. Now I’m certainly not adverse to enjoying this kind of movie, but this one either seems to treat its audience like total morons or was made by morons; it’s hard to tell. I’m not really a fan of director Paul W. Anderson, but he can make entertaining movies, such as Death Race and Event Horizon. Here, he doesn’t even seem able to do that.

At first it doesn’t seem too bad.  The camera glides over a large map peopled with toy soldiers and buildings, and this nicely sets the scene as some of the soldiers start shooting at each other, we dive in……and suddenly we are in the film ‘proper’. We join the Musketeers on their mission, and after each one has dispatched some villains in their own particular manner, the picture freezes and their name comes up. Quite cool, and it looks like we are in for a silly but fun, action packed movie. Things progress for a while as per all other versions, with young D’Artagnan’s quest to become a  Musketeer alternating with palace intrigue, and we soon have one terrific sword battle which has some of the best choreography I’ve seen in a while, but it soon becomes apparent that writers Andrew Davies [yes, the  Andrew Davies, doyen of TV adaptations like Tipping The Velvet and Sense And Sensibility] and Alex Litvak plus Anderson are far more interested in the palace intrigue. Or, to put it more bluntly, Anderson is far more interested in his wife Mila Jovovich, so he places her character, the evil, scheming Milady, centre stage, and turns her into some sort of superwoman [well, she has killed millions of zombies] who can do amazing things like jump through loads of trip wires. We don’t spend nearly enough time with the Musketeers at all, nor do we see D’Artagnan’s character develop. With many characters portrayed very differently, including Buckingham becoming a villain, and the final third just becoming a big chase, you won’t recognise much of the novel at all!

Total fidelity to its source is not a big deal if the film is good when taken on its own, but this one  isn’t: it’s embarrassingly idiotic and annoying. Everything is played to get a laugh, and although there should be a fair bit of humour, not every single scene should be played for laughs. This results in no tension whatsoever, and more to the point little of it is actually funny [watch Richard Lester’s two 70’s efforts as an example of how to do this sort of thing right]. At one point James Corden turns up, and having suffered through Lesbian Vampire Killers [no I’ve never seen Gavin And Stacey], I felt like walking out, but I stayed. Something about his whole manner drives me up the wall, and a good example of the level of the film’s humour can be derived in the bit where he complains about being told to sleep on a balcony because he may be shat upon by birds…and so you see him shat upon by birds. I like a bit of juvenile toilet humour as much as the next person, but in a swashbuckling adventure set in the 1600s?  The action, especially a climactic sword duel on top of Notre Dame Cathedral, is at least done so you can see what is going on, a rarity these days, though the laws of physics clearly don’t exist and to be honest, despite what you may expect, there isn’t actually that much of it, so you spend much of the time sitting through a load of stupid, boring crap waiting for the next bit of action. The film is full of anachronisms, some of which may not be too important [the script has no idea of the way 17th century noblemen behaved], but I doubt you’ll be able to forgive the airships! Yes, airships in 17th century France, and they are actual ships with the balloon bit on top, presumably because the movie wants to be Pirates Of The Caribbean more than a Musketeers movie. Therefore the film can have a lengthy chase and battle between two of them and pretend we are actually at sea.

The acting is okay is places, with a surprise plus being Orlando Bloom as Buckingham, clearly relishing the chance to play a villain and having fun with it, but no one else really stands out, and some of the performances are really inept. Gabriella Wilde, as Constance, looks like she’s having trouble remembering her lines. Paul Haslinger’s horrible score is one big and very bad Hans Zimmer copy, usually alternating between  Pirates music and a rip-off of a particular track from Sherlock Holmes.Technically the film is also awful. The 3D does give some depth of field and the odd sword sticks out at you, but for some reason in many aerial shots the buildings looks like they are made out of cardboard. Now I doubt they were, and it’s probably something to do with the 3D, but it looks hilariously bad, and I can’t believe they thought these shots look okay. Then again, quite often the people look like cardboard cut outs, and I really wish they’d give this gimmick, which still doesn’t look right most of the time, a rest. Then again, I wish they hadn’t made this  painful irritating movie that doesn’t deserve to have the name of Dumas listed amongst its credits. I cannot deny some effort was put into some of the action scenes, and I suppose if you just want to switch your brain off and have some fun, it may pass the time, but so will sitting on the toilet, and it’ll probably be a lot more fulfulling.

Rating: ★★½☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

About Dr Lenera 3141 Articles
I'm a huge film fan and will watch pretty much any type of film, from Martial Arts to Westerns, from Romances [though I don't really like Romcoms!]] to Historical Epics. Though I most certainly 'have a life', I tend to go to the cinema twice a week! However,ever since I was a kid, sneaking downstairs when my parents had gone to bed to watch old Universal and Hammer horror movies, I've always been especially fascinated by horror, and though I enjoy all types of horror films, those Golden Oldies with people like Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee probably remain my favourites. That's not to say I don't enjoy a bit of blood and gore every now and again though, and am also a huge fan of Italian horror, I just love the style.

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