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Overall Rating

Awesome: 9.09%
Worth A Look: 0%
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Pretty Bad72.73%
Total Crap: 18.18%

1 review, 5 user ratings

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Three Musketeers, The (2011)
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by Daniel Kelly

"Classic French fiction the “Resident Evil” way."
2 stars

Adapted from a certified literary classic by Alexandre Dumas, it’s peculiar to find Paul W.S. Anderson at the helm of “The Three Musketeers”. A filmmaker not renowned for his subtly (or even much in the way of fundamental skill), Anderson and the material feel like a crude fit, the director only ever really gelling with the story’s swashbuckling elements, leaving such afterthoughts as satisfactory plotting and credible emotional arcs by the wayside. “The Three Musketeers” has a respectable amount of blockbusting scope and a few fun instances of swordplay, but ultimately works out to be a remarkably insubstantial product. Maybe in the hands of a more interesting director or with a finer tuned script this could have been a good exercise in old school adventuring. As it stands it’s just disposable bunkum.

Young D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) has dreams of being a musketeer, leaving his homestead to try and find glory in Paris. On arrival he quickly makes friends (after a brief misunderstanding) with the King’s Musketeers, Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Porthos (Ray Stevenson) and Aramis (Luke Evans), a group of once great warriors now rendered obsolete thanks to the sly input of Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz), a man who craftily bends the will of France’s immature and naïve King Louis (Freddie Fox). Together D’Artagnan and the Musketeers discover a plot to throw France into a vicious war, a development that would allow the devious Richelieu to take control of the state. Banding together, the Musketeers must combat not only Richelieu’s soldiers but also a tricky double agent (Milla Jovovich) who has a mysterious connection with their past.

The screenplay is an overlong and stodgily penned mess, boasting some of the worst dialogue you’ll hear in a multiplex this year. It’s a wonder that the seasoned likes of Macfadyen, Waltz and Mads Mikkelsen (underused as Richelieu’s right-hand man) signed onto the project at all; even they struggle to make the lines provided by screenwriters Andrew Davies and Alex Litvak sound remotely acceptable. The storytelling isn’t much crisper and at nearly two hours the film outstays its welcome notably. The tone is so dumb and silly that it’s shocking to imagine anybody thought the picture should go on for longer than 80 minutes, yet Anderson stretches “The Three Musketeers” to breaking point, injecting far too many subplots and dull supporting characters into the mire, killing his film’s sense of pace in the process. Ultimately the screenplay is bad, but Anderson must be held accountable for the lack of intelligent editing evident, the filmmaker undercutting some of the movie’s more entertaining set-pieces with his commitment to tedium.

The mix of cast members here is bizarre, ranging from Oscar winners (Waltz) all the way to slovenly TV stars (James Cordon appears in the capacity of irritating comic relief). The Musketeers themselves aren’t outstanding, but they get the job done, Macfadyen and Luke Evans leaving the most amiable impression. The chemistry feels a little wanting in some segments, but each of the leading men showcase a commendable degree of physicality, a welcome touch during Anderson’s admittedly slick action beats. Lerman tries too hard to nail D’Artagnan’s roughish charisma, his turn coming over as smug and aggressively forced. Then there’s Orlando Bloom. Depicting the wormy Duke of Buckingham, Bloom hams it up ridiculously, delivering a performance comprised largely of misguided flamboyance. It’s not a decent piece of acting in the traditional sense, but it is oddly watchable, certainly he leaves more of an impression than the uncharacteristically ordinary Christoph Waltz on display here.

Anderson keeps the set-pieces chaotic and grand, although several of the combat sequences deserve props for ace choreography. “The Three Musketeers” certainly has the aesthetic of a major league blockbuster, Anderson utilizing majestic sets and vast amounts of CGI to accurately realise his own vision of the legendary world previously presented by Dumas. There’s a definite sense that the filmmakers want the picture to follow in the footsteps of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” saga, everything from the derivative musical score to the overall tone begging comparison with that aforementioned 21st Century cinematic juggernaut. Unfortunately thanks to several clumsy artistic touches “The Three Musketeers” has nothing on 2003’s epic “The Curse of the Black Pearl”, but it is a less offensive feature than this year’s nauseatingly awful fourth entry in the Pirates series “On Stranger Tides”. I guess for Anderson and company that’s a genuine plus to take away from the experience.

The script leaves things open for a franchise (although the conclusion feels too blunt), meaning that if the box-office goes smoothly this won’t be the last we see of the Musketeers. There’s potential here, but it’s probably going to take a sharper director than Paul W.S. Anderson to fully do the work off Dumas justice. Under his creative leadership it just reeks of mediocrity.

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originally posted: 10/17/11 02:49:09
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User Comments

5/02/17 mm I'm watching this right now and I think I've seen it before hated it and forgot about it. 2 stars
1/22/12 Kyle Awesome 5 stars
11/12/11 Marcia Lartz efilmcritic trashes the 1993 version, but it was better than this! 2 stars
10/21/11 Flipsider Garbage. 1 stars
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  21-Oct-2011 (PG-13)
  DVD: 13-Mar-2012


  DVD: 13-Mar-2012

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