Hollywood loves its products to be based on previous source material so here we are with another Three Musketeers movie. As the Paul W.S. Anderson film starts, the musketeers Athos (Matthew McFayden), Aramis (Luke Evans) and Porthos (Ray Stevenson) must assist Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich) on a mission to steal Leonardo da Vinci’s blueprint of an airship. They are however crossed by the devious double agent who ends up stealing the design for England. A year later d’Artagnan (Logan Lerman), a cocky young man from Gascony, joins the Musketeers just in time to foil Milady’s and Cardinal Richelieu’s (Christoph Waltz) plot to get France to declare war with England.
3D has been a divisive format for both audiences and critics, its detractors complaining that the flaws of the fledgling technology doesn’t justify the added cost to audiences. Movies like The Three Musketeers solve this problem by using a lot of gold! Older stories like the Dumas pere novel make sense for the compromise. This adaptation shows metallic weapons, torch-lit secret storage rooms and the anachronistic inclusion of what’s supposed to be the Galeries des Glaces in Versailles. And I know that the plot is set decades before some of the historical references but I like the attention put in details of set pieces. For example, there’s the unlivable, pungent, seventeenth century Paris where characters like the musketeers live on bridges. An elaborate crucifix that looks like it’s sculpted by Gianlorenzo Bernini fittingly hangs on a wall in Richelieu’s large office. If you want to stretch the art references, you can argue that the musketeers’ bridge house is reminiscent of Caravaggio, Lerman’s face looking like one that the Baroque artist would paint.
Yes, I’m admittedly giving it too much credit because it also presents these fictional events with a glossy, video game irreverence. It has more campy, terrible acting than any movie Madonna will ever make. de Winter’s lover the Duke of Buckingham is played by Orlando Bloom and he gives his character a one-note affectation that I’m not sure whether to hate it or respect it. Lerman takes an arrogant, Americanized interpretation of d’Artagnan and he will probably be asked to play future characters the same way. The only saving grace here is Juno Temple as one of Richelieu’s victims, Louis XIII’s queen consort Anne d’Autriche.
I have more minor complaints, like how the movie is basically a mix of da Vinci invention porn where the Musketeers and spies have martial arts moves like characters in The Matrix. Yes, I have a sense of humor but as a movie that has equal parts of admirable visuals and 21st century brain damage, it rests on the mediocre side of this year’s films.