The best way to describe director Paul W.S. Anderson’s 3-D retelling of The Three Musketeers would be “delightfully silly.” Anderson (Event Horizon, Resident Evil) has created an extremely fun film that’s the exact opposite of the overly plotted Pirates of the Caribbean sequels and the stodgy staginess of previous films based on the literary works of Alexandre Dumas. It takes massive liberties with the source material and the action approaches an almost Michael Bay level of boneheadedness, but that’s all part of the films immense charm.
This retelling finds the brash young country lad D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) running afoul of and eventually joining the famed former Parisian royal guard known as the musketeers. The three remaining members of the guard (Matthew Macfayden, Luke Evans, and Ray Stevenson) have been downgraded to being general peacekeepers by Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz), but are secretly called back into service by the queen (Juno Temple) after Richelieu and the devious Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich) orchestrate a power play between the ineffectual King Louis XIII (Freddie Fox) and the British Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom).
Anderson could care less about things like period accuracy and following the story word for word. Only one actor is even attempting a French accent, and for some reason there are massive flying airships in his version of the story, but thankfully, Anderson pulls off this ridiculous tone with a great amount of wit and imagination. Having also previously used 3-D technology in the past, Anderson also justifies the use of the gimmick here.
The cast is also well up to the task at hand, as their performances match the tone of the film quite well. The relative unknowns in the musketeer roles do a great job of giving each character a unique identity. This film, however, belongs to the villains. Jovovich and Waltz seem like they are having a blast acting villainous, but no one is having as much fun onscreen as Bloom, who seems to relish not playing a goody-two-shoes for once in his career.
Don’t come to The Three Musketeers expecting anything close to the original novel. Expect an absurd almost Terry Gilliam style retelling of the story that’s designed to do nothing more than entertain. Purists may sneer at the silliness, but in a drab and largely joyless fall film season, it’s a breath of fresh air.
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Orlando Bloom, Christoph Waltz, Logan Lerman
Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson
Top image: A scene from The Three Musketeers. Courtesy Alliance Films.