The Three Musketeers

| March 11, 2012

The wait is over. Paul W.S. Anderson’s newest film has arrived! Fans of his other work (Mortal Kombat, Resident Evil, Alien vs. Predator) will have to come to terms with that on their own time. Personally, I think he’s one of the worst directors working right now, but of all the many terrible directors currently plaguing Hollywood, Anderson’s my favorite. I’ve seen most of his movies, and can submit myself to a viewing of Alien vs. Predator on a fairly regular basis.
Anderson’s adaptation of Alexander Dumas’s The Three Musketeers is very much in keeping with his trademark filmmaking style: a lot of action, and a lot of visually pleasing shots and sequences. Film versions of The Three Musketeers aren’t a new idea. It seems we get “treated” to a new version every few years. Anderson attempts to keep his version fresh not only with state of the art cameras, and meticulously choreographed sword fights, but also by adding a sort of steam punk like level of invention to the original story. This version sees England and France on the brink of war, with the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom; Pirates of the Caribbean) building massive flying war ships, as well as various elaborate machinery and booby traps spread across the plot. While Richelieu (Christoph Waltz; Inglorious Basterds) attempts to frame the queen of France in order to push the two countries closer to war, Athos (Matthew Macfadyen; Death at a Funeral), Aramis (Luke Evans; Immortals), and Porthos (Ray Stevenson; HBO’s Rome) must work to stop him along with their new young friend D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman; Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief).
One has to appreciate this wanting to do something fresh with a story we’re all so familiar with, and those fans of the source material might be interested to see slight reimaginings of key scenes from the book. The sequence where D’Artagnan unwittingly challenges each of the three musketeers to a duel is full of really clever lines and character defining moments. And it’s nice to see D’Artagnan emerge as a much stronger character, not fawning over the musketeers upon realizing who they really are like in Disney’s 1993 version starring Chris O’Donnell and Kiefer Sutherland.
My last time through Alien vs. Predator I decided to watch Anderson’s director commentary. If you’ve never done so, then you’ve never seen Shakespeare the way it was meant to be played. So, I couldn’t resist going back and listening to some of the commentary on The Three Musketeers. Doing so, it becomes obvious that Paul W.S. Anderson does have not only a comprehensive know-how of filmmaking, but also a genuine passion for each of the projects he undertakes. His attention to detail in all aspects of his projects is impressive; especially the elements that viewers may not realize are in fact historically accurate. So, it then becomes unclear how the final product of his films can be so bad. Again, none of his movies are particularly painful to watch. They’re fun, and should be at least enjoyable on that basic level, but offer nothing substantial in the way of what goes into making a decent film.
Oddly, my favorite part of The Three Musketeers is Milla Jovovich’s (Resident Evil) performance as Milady. I like capable female characters, and Jovovich certainly fills that role here as a spy and a thief playing both sides as well as Athos’ affections. My only criticism of Milady is that she’s a little too good, which seems to be a running criticism for the rest of the film. Everything’s a little too good (ironically, except for the overall film). Milady’s a little too capable. The sword fights are a little too perfect. The plots all unfold a little too coincidentally. It makes the film a little too easy from a writing and directing perspective.
Special features include Audio commentary with Paul W.S. Anderson and the other two producers of the film, deleted scenes, and an intricate behind-the-scenes feature which involves scene specific features like interviews with the cast, and closer looks at the musketeers fighting styles. The film is visually striking, and worthy of being watched on Blu-ray, but nothing here screamed for the necessity to buy the 3D Blu-ray. Of course, it should be said that I’ve never seen a 3D movie worth watching in 3D.

About the Author:

Joe Ketchum Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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