There have been more versions of Alexander Dumas’ classic book that I can really even believe. Critics go for the 1973 version of The Three Musketeers, but I grew up with the 1993 Disney version, so I have a special kind of love for that one. Why not take another shot at it though? It seems to be quite popular nowadays to take a classic novel or story and blow it up with craziness and special effects. With a name like Paul W.S. Anderson in the director’s chair, it seemed like this version of The Three Musketeers was doomed, and I was more than ready to hate it with every fiber of my being, but the truth is, it isn’t as bad as you might think.
D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) is a young man with the sole dream of becoming a musketeer for King Louis XIII (Freddie Fox). Upon arriving in Paris, he soon meets three of the most famous musketeers: Athos (Matthew McFadyen), Porthos (Ray Stevenson), and Aramis (Luke Evans). They accept him as one of their own, but regret to inform him that the musketeers have been disbanded by Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz), who is seeking to take the throne from the king with the help of Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich). The Three Musketeers and their newest member soon learn of this nefarious plot and decide that it is solely up to them to protect the king and stop France from going to war with England.
Like I said, I was so ready to watch this movie and hate every bit of it. In the beginning, I really was not enjoying it at all. The acting was pretty bad and nothing was really jumping out or engaging me in any way. Between a quarter of the way to the half way mark things of interest actually start happening and continue up until the end of the movie. I use the term “of interest” pretty loosely. I’m pretty much saying I started to get entertained. This movie isn’t really good in terms of depth and character, but as much as it really pains me to say it, I had some fun.
I really need to say that this version of The Three Musketeers is completely different than any other version that exists. Take the original story and then mix in a bunch of steampunk technology, and you get this movie. This is what really sold the movie to me, in my opinion. I love steampunk style and it was a pretty interesting choice to incorporate it into this classic story. It also gave everyone a lot of room to tweak the story. There’s a really fun aerial battle involving ships that are part zeppelins and part clipper ships. Is this anyway in the original Dumas book? No way, but as far as entertainment goes, I was having so much fun watching this play out onscreen.
So the special effects and swashbuckling action are all well and good, but that really doesn’t excuse a lot of the negativity that I actually recognized in this movie. First of all, the movie just up and ends faster than you even have time to blink. I don’t really know what I was expecting, but I didn’t feel like the resolution had what it takes to really wrap up a movie. Also, there were some bits of acting that were just God awful. From the uninspired to the over the top acting, it hit the entire spectrum. Christoph Waltz was great as the Cardinal and the only other actor who seemed to really be enjoying his part was Ray Stevenson as Porthos. The other musketeers weren’t memorable at all. Orlando Bloom was pretty fun to watch, even though it’s kinda hard taking him too seriously as a villain.
Don’t go into The Three Musketeers expecting anything that resembles the Alexander Dumas novel. The characters are there, but everything else is pretty much its own thing. This isn’t a good movie in the objective sense. It’s full of bad acting, silly story contrivances, and an ending that doesn’t really wrap things up. But, the action was over the top and flashy enough that it kept my attention for most of the time. The good thing is that this movie never took itself too seriously. It always had a light hearted attitude and a sense of self awareness. There were even some small historical quirks that made me chuckle. All in all, it’s not great, nor is it really good, but it provided me with a silly afternoon escape.