The Three Musketeers (2011)

Reviewer: Charity Bishop

 

Alexandre Dumas' classic story has been told over and over again, but never with quite as much imagination as this. Set in a time of opulence, it features quick-witted assassins, diabolical villains, and flying ships setting sail in stormy skies.

Every partnership must eventually end, and it is unfortunate for Athos (Matthew Macfadyen) that it ends with a betrayal by the woman he loves. Lady de Winter (Milla Jovovich) has not only broken his heart but made off with the object of his desire, a set of plans for a flying ship by da Vinci. Her choice to support an English rival Lord Buckingham (Orlando Bloom) over him leaves him devastated. But then, the Musketeers haven't much to do these days, since the youthful and foolish king has no further need of them, and the city of Paris is run by the Cardinal's Guards.

Four years later, this does not bode well for young D'Artagnan (Logan Lerman) when he arrives intent on becoming a Musketeer, with the swordsmanship skills and attitude to prove it. He is not in town for more than an hour before he has collided with Athos, refused to pay a ticket given to him by Aramis (Luke Evans), and insulted Porthos (Ray Stevenson). His intention to fight all three of them in individual duals goes amiss when the Captain of the Cardinal's Guard orders his arrest, leaving the Three Musketeers and their tag-along to stumble into the midst of a diabolical plot intent on catapulting France and England into war. The order of the day is to save the queen, out-maneuver Buckingham, and outsmart the Cardinal (Christoph Waltz)... on the ground, or in the sky.

What can I say about this movie? Ten minutes in and I was cringing over how awful it was. Normally, I really like Milla Jovovich, but she is horribly miscast here, lacking any screen presence or chemistry with her costars. Everyone else ranges from decent to mundane, all except for Bloom, who is having such a good time twirling his mustache (sometimes literally) that we cannot help but enjoy his scene-stealing performance. He appears to be fully aware of how absurd the entire thing is, but doesn't mind a bit. Unfortunately, we're expected to root for the budding romance between young DArtagnan and one of the queen's ladies in waiting, but neither of them can act their way out of a paper bag and have zero sexual tension. However, I will say that once you get over the rampant absurdities, this movie does become a lot of fun. Its main flaw is trying too hard and relying on too many gags, but by the midway point I was enjoying myself, and the final twenty minutes are terrific, ranging from the air battle to a swordfight on the roof of Notre Dame.

In all other respects, this film is absolutely gorgeous. Shot in real locations rather than sets, it presents us with the finest of French and German architecture, with breathtaking panoramas and exquisite interiors. The costuming is also gorgeous, from ruffled petticoats and underskirts to tailored pantaloons. Now and again a lovely musical score creeps in, and the CGI in the last half is flawless. This film is so stunning on Blu Ray that I'm tempted to forgive its faults for that alone.

The cheekiness is evident from the opening scenes, where the image freezes and the name of the character is splashed across the frame. Either this kind of silliness is going to hook you in or it isn't. If you are looking for a quality franchise the caliber of Pirates of the Caribbean, this is not it, but if you simply want to be entertained and gawk at some gorgeous costumes, give it a rental. It may not have much substance, but it certainly has style.
  

    
Sexual Content:
References to affairs and lovers; cleavage; the camera peers down a woman's bodice; immodest clothing.
  
Language:
Minor apart from the use of "s**t."
  
Violence:
A lot of comedic action violence, nothing gruesome.