There have been so many attempts to bring Alexander Dumas' swashbuckling tale of a conniving Cardinals attempt to seize control of France from the young Louis XIII, only to be foiled by a trio of ageing musketeers and their rebellious protégé. Some have been quite successful - 1974s version (which we recently reviewed on Blu-ray, along with it's sequel) starring a predominantly British cast is a witty, fun affair, while others have missed the mark 1993s version starring messrs Sheen, Sutherland, Platt and The Chris ODonnell, lest we forget. This latest attempt falls into neither category and instead can only be described as a farcical lump of film matter not worthy of consumption on a 12 hour airplane journey where the only alternative is listening to the high pitched screams of the infant that sits next to you. Paul W.S. Anderson tries to give it the 21st century, comic-book treatment. Think The Matrix meets Dumas and you get slow motion, excessive action scenes, dismal dialogue, and pathetic attempts at humour, Orlando Bloom sporting stupid facial hair, Mads Mikkelsen wearing an eye patch and Dexter Fletcher doing the worst American accent ever. And just when you think it cant get any worse, enter James Corden, playing a loathable, wise-cracking fool! Matthew Macfayden, Luke Evans and Ray Stevenson are the budget three musketeers its easy to imagine the list of names that turned down the project who are as successful at bringing the camaraderie and wit of Dumas most famous characters to screen as a primary school production of Hamlet. At the opening they are the best of the best of The Kings guards. But after being double crossed by Jovovich and Bloom they let themselves go, and like France under the rule of the young King, fall into disrepair. This is until the plucky whippersnapper, and greatest young swordsman in all France known as DArtagnan portrayed by Logan Lerman, a fatter faced Jason Mewes, with half the acting capabilities arrives on the scene and starts causing carnage and roping the out of shape Musketeers into his havoc. This coincides with the treacherous Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) and his aide Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich) planning a scheme that will see the young king of France go to war with England forcing a revolution that will allow him to seize power. The film spends far too much time with villains Milla Jovovich and Christoph Waltz spelling out their villainous plans to seize the French throne. But while this is a failing for the pace and tempo of the piece, not to mention detracting from the characters were meant to care about its actually a blessing for those of us who have had to watch the movie, for we are spared the trite and forced dialogue of the musketeers and a crowbarred romance between DArtagnan and the queens lady in waiting Constance. Instead we are treated to Jovovich and Waltzs rather good interchanges. Even if Waltz performance is little more than a slightly diluted Hans Landau, which seems to be what he is destined to replicate again and again and is becoming less charming with each outing, hes still more watchable than the rest of the cast on their very best day. And Jovovich oozes sexuality and blows everyone else off screen in any scene that doesnt also involve Waltz. Here she gets to show her skill as a dramatic actress as well as show off her martial arts abilities in a role that at points is femme fatale, as well as a kick ass action chick. Paul W.S. Anderson is a director who is often on the wrong end of the stick from film critics; he does not produce high-brow movies. However, I very much enjoyed his original Resident Evil film and thought the latest installment of the series that saw Anderson back in the directors chair was a taught, tense and action packed return to form for the series. The man knows how to direct action, and in addition to having a passion for 3D demonstrated last year he knew how to use it. Unfortunately he got far too carried away, and the overkill of action, clearly crafted to utilise 3D goes wrong here. The phrase less is more was clearly lost on this set as there is rarely a scene where something isnt flying out of the screen at the audience, however unnecessary that seems. Action seems are long and unbelievable, verging on the comic. This would not be so much of a problem if it was consistent, but it is not. Ultimately this is a noisy, annoying, and soulless affair, filled with horrid one-liners and mushy saccharine, reminiscent of the new Star Wars movies. The characters arent cool, and certainly not nearly as cool as they think they are or indeed should be or are in Dumas novel. Not that they are given time to grow, but then again I guess that is what the sequel was made for. Never mind turning over, this adaptation would have Dumas climbing out of his grave and hunting the filmmakers down to beat them to death with a hardback edition of his original masterpiece. The Three Musketeers is released in the UK tomorrow and in the US on October 21st.
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Frustratingly argumentative writer, eater, reader and fanatical about film ‘n’ food and all things fundamentally flawed. I have been a member of the WhatCulture family since it was known as Obsessed with Film way back in the bygone year of 2010. I review films, festivals, launch events, award ceremonies and conduct interviews with members of the ‘biz’. Follow me @FilmnFoodFan
In 2011 I launched the restaurant and food criticism section. I now review restaurants alongside film and the greatest rarity – the food ‘n’ film crossover. Let your imaginations run wild as you mull on what that might look like!