The Three Musketeers, made into a film? In 3D you say? Christophe Waltz and Orlando Bloom as the baddies? With Matthew Macfadyen and pretty boy Logan Lermen as the Musketeers? Flying ships and swordfights? And James Corden as a hilarious servant? This sounds fantastic! Well you’d be wrong. Unfortunately this film falls rather flat. There is great potential, but it doesn’t feel like it is used to its full advantage.
The beginning sets the scene well, introducing Europe with a threat of war along with an introduction to the Musketeers in their element, fighting the baddies. The film kicks off to a great start; that is, until D’Artagnan opens his mouth. His American accent sticks out like a sore thumb and is incredibly irritating. The same can be said of the sexy double agent Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich), who also sports an annoying American drawl.
The adventure begins with the Musketeers, adding D’Artagnan to their ranks, presented with the task of retrieving the Queen’s diamond necklace from the English Duke of Buckingham (Bloom) to stop the threat of war between France — ruled by a naive young king — and England, all of which is being masterminded by the Cardinal (Waltz) giving an excellent performance as an evil baddie, who controls the King and wishes for total power himself. Oh, and there are flying ships from a stolen drawing by Da Vinci, obviously. An interesting plot it seems, teemed with the Musketeers rising up again into glory after being suppressed by the Cardinal. Yet it feels clumsy and long-winded. It doesn’t flow, and for the beginning of the film you wonder if much is going to happen at all, apart from having D’Artagnan’s cocky attitude thrust into your face the entire time.
The film is fairly funny, combining banter for the adults and gags, like Corden’s face being dripped on by bird poo, for children, presumably for whom this film is since it is a 12A. This film, however, is a confusing mix of a great child’s action story with scenes of sexual jokes and a half-naked and suggestive Jovovich. I’m not being old-fashioned, but when she suddenly appears with her dress transformed into a mini skirt, it seems odd. It feels like the film could have been more subtle as the sexual aspects pop up rather randomly. Corden is funny, yet not as smooth as when he is at home on our TV screens. He feels a bit out of place, which is a shame. And again, I’m not being prudent, but the language in this film feels off too. It’s not a documentary of 17th century France, but the use of words like ‘shit’, ‘damn’ and ‘shut up’ sounds very bizarre and almost cringeworthy.
On the plus side, though, this is an action-packed adventure film, with good triumphing over evil, swordfights, and an epic battle in the sky at the end. There is also the banter between the Musketeers, the sweet King and Queen, and the flamboyance of the Duke to raise a smile or two. I realise I sound pessimistic by picking up on the small annoyances in the film, but those are the aspects that ruin it. It feels like it needed another week of editing to smooth out the bumps. The choice to film it in 3D — which I unfortunately didn’t see — I imagine made the film impressive, making all the action sequences much more colourful. Yet I’m not sure that could save it.
I really wanted to love this film, yet it never matched up to the impressive trailer and the expectation of transforming an epic adventure story of the Musketeers on the big screen in 3D. It feels like Anderson was too pre-occupied with producing a loud action film, ignoring the context of 17th century France. It could have been produced in the same style as, for example, Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, which made contextual sense yet still with 20th century humour. Like a school report card: so much potential, but could have tried harder.
The Three Musketeers (2011), directed by Paul W. S. Anderson, is distributed in the UK on Blu-ray and DVD by Entertainment One, certificate 12.