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"The Three Musketeers:" Shallow and Clumsy

Christine Weitbrecht |
October 22, 2011 | 8:26 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

'The Three Musketeers' (Image courtesy of Summit Entertainment)
'The Three Musketeers' (Image courtesy of Summit Entertainment)
There are few stories that have been adapted to the screen so many times and in so many different forms as Alexandre Dumas’ "The Three Musketeers." Against this grand legacy, Paul W. S. Anderson’s most recent, steampunk influenced take on the original novel feels like a cheesy teenage fantasy rather than meaningful entertainment. 

Anderson’s musketeers are meant to make money; that much is clear right from the beginning. An all-star cast composed of Mila Jovovich, Christoph Waltz, Logan Lerman, Matthew Macfadyen, Ray Stevenson, Luke Evans, and Orlando Bloom joins a vast array of special effects and wild action scenes as we follow young D’Artagnan’s (Lerman) path to Paris to become a musketeer alongside Athos (Macfadyen), Porthos (Stevenson), and Aramis (Evans) and to save France from the evil schemes of Cardinal Richelieu (Waltz). Unfortunately, both the plot and its characters display an incredible lack of depth and complexity, and it seems that the actors involved are too lazy for any actual acting and rely on their past images instead (Jovovich kicking backsides, Bloom strutting his stuff in breeches, and so on). The only exception to this is Christoph Waltz, whose semi-decent portrayal of Cardinal Richelieu saves the movie from looking utterly ridiculous.

Throughout the entire movie the dialogues are laughable and full with pathetic one-liners. The plot is incoherent and at times even completely illogical, and it is impossible to believe any of the relationships portrayed on-screen, be they romantic or simple friendships. The audience learns little about the characters besides superficial traits such as their allegiances and fighting skills, making it hard to identify with any one of them. Particularly the three musketeers and D’Artagnan themselves suffer immensely from this; supposedly the ‘heroes’ of the tale, they treat their one dedicated servant with uncalled-for disrespect, and essentially slaughter every single one of their victims with entirely expressionless faces. 

What is more, the portrayal of women borders on the offensive as well, be it when Jovovich completes her spying tasks as Milady de Winter in little more than her underwear, or when both the queen and her maid are incapable of expressing their affection for their admirers, resorting to constant “no’s” when they really mean “yes.” Women are frequently named as the one thing that ruins a man, and ultimately serve for nothing more than pretty trophies. Even if Dumas’ original novel does not feature women in prominent roles, it is questionable whether this gives the director the permission to turn the only females involved into brainless dolls. 

Steampunk interpretations of classics can work, as Guy Ritchie’s recent adaptation of "Sherlock Holmes" (2009) has shown. However, no matter how big the explosions and how fantastic the setting, nothing can make up for such a poor character portrayal and clumsy story development as exhibited by "The Three Musketeers." Even if the all-star cast will draw in many cinema-goers, and even if the end of the movie is clearly set up for a sequence, please, Mr. Anderson, don’t ever touch "The Three Musketeers" again. 

"The Three Musketeers" is in cinemas now. 

Directed by: Paul W. S. Anderson

Starring: Mila Jovovich, Christoph Waltz, Logan Lerman, Matthew Macfadyen, Ray Stevenson, Luke Evans, Orlando Bloom

Rating: PG-13

Distributed in the US by Summit Entertainment. 

To reach Entertainment Staff Reporter Christine, click here

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