Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Three Musketeers

Year: 2011
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Cast: Logan Lerman, Matthew Macfadyen, Ray Stevenson, Luke Evans, Milla Jovovich, Christoph Waltz, Orlando Bloom, Mads Mikkelsen

Plot: Young D'Artagnan (Lerman), who aspires to be a musketeer, travels to Paris and meets the famed Three Musketeers (Macfadyen, Evans & Stevenson). Together they attempt to stop Cardinal Richelieu (Waltz), the advisor to the naive King of France, from starting a war with England. Standing in their way are Richelieu's double agent Milady (Jovovich) and her 'other' employer, The Duke of Buckingham (Bloom).

Review: From the trailers, The Three Musketeers looks like fun. On paper, it might have worked. Some nice action sequences with swordfights, explosions and bullets flying everywhere would almost guarantee a fun time at the movies, even if the plot isn't much to behold. But sadly, the film doesn't quite live up to expectations.

Paul W.S. Anderson, who has made a career out of making the Resident Evil films with his wife Milla Jovovich, can definitely film action, no doubt about that. He's one of the few guys that can film close quarter combats without making it seem blurry, and use slow motion at just the right moments. So to his credit, all the swordfights in this film are well shot, especially the climactic duel between Lerman and Mads Mikkelsen (as Rochefort, the Cardinal's Captain of the guards). He also throws in some good action set pieces, like an airship battle (which is reminiscent of the ship battles in the Pirates films, except it's in the air here) and a creative raid on a stronghold in the film's opening sequence.

However, Anderson isn't strong on substance, which is where the film falters. The plot on how Richelieu plans to start a war between England and France is a tad juvenile and poorly executed. But what's even worse is the acting by a select few of the cast.

Orlando Bloom as the Duke of Buckingham is one of the worst examples of casting I've ever seen. Bloom has yet to mature as an actor obviously, as he hams up the role terribly and looks totally out of place. Some people can actually ham up a role and make it look good (Kevin Bacon in X-Men First Class for instance), but Bloom is a failure. He might as well stick to being a sidekick for his next few projects. Jovovich is unexpectedly annoying at times, and I say unexpected because she isn't a terrible actress. Anyone who has seen her in Joan of Arc can understand where I'm coming from. Here, her acting is inconsistent at best.

Macfadyen, Evans and Stevenson fare much better as Athos, Aramis and Porthos respectively, though it is Lerman who gets more screen time here. Lerman does okay as the impulsive D'Artagnan, and with a little more work, he just might become a leading man someday.

In the end, The Three Musketeers doesn't take itself seriously enough to make it enjoyable. While I enjoyed the humour that it handed out, it just needed a bit more meat to work. There was some potential for drama as Athos and Milady have a history with each other, but there wasn't enough drama everywhere else, and too much focus was on the immature King and his Queen, who are at the centre of Richelieu's plan.

Judging by the way it ended, a sequel is afoot. But Anderson has a lot of work to do to improve on this. (3/5)

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