When Alexandre Dumas wrote his sprawling novel about a band of sword-wielding adventurists, he could hardly have anticipated the state in which his classic tale now currently exists.
When Alexandre Dumas wrote his sprawling novel about a band
of sword-wielding adventurists, he could hardly have anticipated the state in
which his classic tale now currently exists.
Hollywood has long persisted with
the story of The Three Musketeers and every 20 years or so audiences have the
same product, albeit in slightly different packaging, force-fed to them as the
latest big screen blockbuster. It is saddening, if not predictable, to report
therefore that the 2011 version of The Three Musketeers is no exception. It is a soulless vehicle that has
the single purpose of existing purely to squeeze every last penny out of
happily paying audiences.
This may sound like a somewhat overzealous criticism of what
is so wrong about The Three Musketeers;
sure it has a naff plot, horrendous acting, aneurism-inducing 3-D and offers
little in the way of entertainment, but it surely can’t be that bad? In words
of one syllable, yes, it really is that bad. And to let it off lightly would be
to glaze over the exploitative conduct of studios that flog films such as The
Three Musketeers under the shroud of
‘Blockbuster Entertainment’ merely for making a quick and easy dollar.
Don’t get me wrong, the film doesn’t have the blood-curdling
moral repugnancy of a film such as Transformers 3 (and for that matter 1&2),
it’s just that the only reason the vague appearance of what was once a classic
novel still continues to appear in the cinema, is money. The latest The
Three Musketeers is only a step towards a
no doubt endless slew of sequels, prequels and God knows what else. And if
someone doesn’t point out this in no longer acceptable, don’t moan when The
Three Musketeers 4 didn’t live up to your
The latest director to tackle the pointy swords of the
Musketeers is Paul (not to be confused with Paul Thomas) W.S. Anderson, who is
just one in a long line of filmmakers who have attempted to bring this story to
life. The master of acrobatic heroism Douglas Fairbanks perhaps provided the
high watermark of The Three Musketeer films in the 1920s. Disney’s venture
however, starring the hardly clean cut and sober pairing of Charlie Sheen and
Kiefer Sutherland proved little more than your McDonald’s Happy Meal of a
movie. Do you want your specially commissioned pop song to go along with your
utterly corporate driven nonsense sir?
Much is the same in Anderson’s reincarnation. Take That
provide a largely forgettable pop tune to accompany the film, with enough
special effects and star names thrown at the screen to pose as entertainment.
Simple really. The plot, as much as there is one, is shall we say a little
lacking. When the dashing youngster d’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) seeks to join the
legendary Musketeers in Paris, he is somewhat disappointed to find the infamous
Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Porthos (Ray Stevenson) and Aramis (Luke Evans) rather
beleaguered and forlorn. They claim they are past their prime, no longer needed
because of “budget cuts” (nothing like a good old joke about the recession to
lift your spirits). Not before long they are saving the world from the
dastardly scheming of Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) and the
double-crossing Milady (Milla Jovovich). A precession of great explosions and
flying airships crashing into buildings act as the films great dramatic
moments, but are just scarily comparable to Pirates of the Caribbean. Picture Pirates in flight at your peril.
The one single highlight of the film was the perversity of
watching Orlando Bloom, possibly the blandest actor on the planet, being
horribly miscast as the evil Duke of Buckingham. Bloom as a soppy hero is
terrible enough, but as a villain he is laugh-out-loud terrible. James Corden
makes an appearance just to be defecated on, once again showing us the heady
heights of his comic powers.
Nevertheless, Anderson soldiers on in an envisaging of a
Steampunk 17th Century France in a style reminiscent to Sky
Captain and the World of Tomorrow or the
madness of Zach Snyder’s Sucker Punch, a blend of old worlds and new worlds rather incongruously forced
together. But while Sky Captain was
an absurd yet bizarrely intriguing mess, The Three Musketeers is just plain dull.
The Three Musketeers should
be the point where we all stand together, stamp our feet, demand more from
Hollywood and close our wallets until they realise this just isn’t good enough.
Blockbusters can and should be so much better.