Three Musketers Review

poster from the Constantin Film Three Musketeers 2011

Choosing a movie to see this week was tough, because all three of the major studio offerings looked less than stellar. Paranormal Activity 3 looked unscary, Johnny English Reborn looked unfunny, and The Three Musketeers looked unoriginal. In the end I eliminated Paranormal Acivity because I had done a horror movie last week and I decided to give Three Musketeers the benefit of the doubt, because aren’t all movies based on classic novels a little bit unoriginal? After all, we’ve known the story for ages.

A young swordsman aiming to join the king’s elite guards joins his three heroes in rescuing the queen’s jewels from England to thwart a plot against the monarchy by the evil Cardinal Richelieu.

The trick with an adaptation is not necessarily to follow the book’s storyline exactly (Alexandre Dumas’ novel is rather more complicated than that) but to add something new to the mix that makes it worth seeing over again. Unfortunately, by this rule, this new version of the Three Musketeers is utterly worthless, as I don’t think that there is one original scene in the whole movie.

You might be thinking: “how can she say that? There’s fun and action and adventure and jokes and airships! There was none of that in the book! Sure, there was fun and action and adventure and jokes in the 1993 version, but there were no airships! And plus, I totally saw the trailer and in this new one, D’artagnan is a girl who has a lesbian lover! How’s that for modern and original?” But you are wrong.

Gabriella Wilde as Constance and Logan Lerman Dartagnan kiss from the Constantin Film Three Musketeers 2011

That girl on the right is actually Logan Lerman.

You see, The Three Musketeers shouldn’t just be original FOR A MUSKETEERS MOVIE but as a movie in general. Not everyone understands this. In fact, Paul W.S. Anderson misunderstood it so badly that he thought it would be a great idea to “update” the story by ripping off countless other popular contemporary movies. As you’re watching it, every line, every action, every outfit, will seem eerily familiar. Even if you can’t put your finger on exactly where you saw it before, you know it’s ripped off of another movie. Observe.

Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen) brings a gun to a swordfight, just like Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Rochefort shoots Dartagnan from the Constantin Film Three Musketeers 2011

Swing your sword around a bit first, so it will be really funny when I shoot you.

Aramis (Orlando Bloom) swans around jumping off buildings like he thinks he’s The Dark Knight.

Luke Evans as Aramis jumps off a bridge from the Constantin Film Three Musketeers 2011

Minus Batman’s base-jumping cape, so he really ought to go SPLAT.

Meanwhile the Duke of Buckingham (no, wait, THIS is Orlando Bloom… so who’s that other guy? Oh, it’s Luke Evans) seems to have stolen Colin Firth’s hair, makeup, and outfit from Shakespeare in Love.

Orlando Bloom as the Duke of Buckingham from the Constantin Film Three Musketeers 2011

I ask you: why would you put TWO Orlando Blooms in a movie?

The three musketeers (plus one) wear the leather outfits from X-Men.

Ray Winstone, Matthew MacFadyen, Luke Evans, and Logan Lerman as the four musketeers from the Constantin Film Three Musketeers 2011

The magical, non-creaky kind of leather outfits only found in movies.

Even the supposedly original airship scenes are ruined by their obvious similarity to the chases and battles in Pirates of the Caribbean.

airship battle from the Constantin Film Three Musketeers 2011

ATHOS: We’re too heavy! Throw everything overboard!
SERVANT: Even our copies of the script for Curse of the Black Pearl?
ATHOS: No, leave those. Otherwise we’ll have no idea what to say next.

Milady (Milla Jovovich), however, is the worst. She swan dives off of a castle on a cable like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible

Milla Jovovich from the Costantin Film Three Musketeers 2011

Presumably so she can avoid the motion sensors in the marble floors?

…she also slides through a corridor of projectiles like Trinity in The Matrix

Milady de Winter plays at being in the Matrix from the Constantin Film Three Musketeers 2011

I guess she has a magical time-slowing bodice?

… AND she rips off HER OWN laser-dodging scene from Resident Evil. Yes, I did just say lasers. I think we’re supposed to believe that they’re just really tightly strung razor wires, but still, it’s not a very practical thing for a queen to have in her closet. Which brings me to my next point: even if every scene in the movie had been fresh and original, it still wouldn’t be a good movie for a variety of reasons. I hinted at one just now – realism.

Juno Temple as the Queen from the Constantin Film Three Musketeers 2011

QUEEN: Ladies, please fetch my jewelry.
LADIES: Won’t we get sliced to ribbons?
QUEEN: Oh, go eat some cake or something.

Everyone expects an adventure movie to be at least a little unrealistic, but The Three Musketeers has no concept of logic, science, history, or anything else. People survive falling about 5,000 feet into the ocean, the airships seem to be held aloft by a magical gas that does not catch fire when exposed to lightning and flame throwers yet is light enough to lift enormous wooden battleships loaded with cannons, and napalm seems to have been invented a few years early.

Athos uses a flame thrower from the Constantin Film Three Musketeers 2011

There’s nothing like the smell of burning leather in the morning.

The banter is also phoned in, D’artagnan is a smarmy douche who needs to be punched in the face, and the romance subplot has all the zing of two pieces of cardboard falling in love, largely because Constance (Gabriella Wilde) thinks D’artagnan is a jackass until she needs something from him, then just starts making out with him. The only person I liked was the King (Freddie Fox) because he’s shallow but in a funny, endearing way.

Christophe Waltz as Richelieu and Freddie Fox as the King from the Constantin Film Three Musketeers 2011

Yes, Richelieu, I understand we may be going to war, but the important question is: do you like my shoes?

This is bad, bad writing, which is why I was completely FLOORED to find out that Andrew Davies (the screenwriter who adapted Bleak House, Bridget Jones’ Diary, and Pride and Prejudice) was involved. Not even the award winning actors were at their best. In fact, they didn’t even seem to be on the same page as far as the tone of the movie was concerned. On one hand you’ve got Matthew MacFadyen playing Athos as if he was in a Shakespearian drama…

Matthew MacFadyen as Athos from the Constantin Film Three Musketeers 2011

I am a serious person with deep psychological wounds.

… and then on the other hand, you’ve got Orlando Bloom hamming it up like he’s the mustache-twirling villain tying a lady to the railroad tracks in an old silent movie.

Orlando Bloom as the Duke of Buckingham from the Constantin Film Three Musketeers 2011

I am a mad nutter, ah ha ha ha ha ha!!!

And then in the middle, you’ve got people like Madds Mikkelson, who wander around with confused looks on their faces like they can’t figure out how they ended up in this movie.

Mads Mikkelsen as Rochefort from the Constantin Film Three Musketeers 2011

What do you mean this isn’t the set for the latest Bond film?

The movie seems to expect that it will have a sequel, but it will not. The Three Musketeers may be expensive, action packed, and occasionally funny, but it’s also annoying, unoriginal, and brain dead. If you’re looking to recapture the swashbuckling hilarity and tension of a Pirates of the Caribbean movie, just watch a Pirates of the Caribbean movie and save $14.50, like all but about ten people in our town did.

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