Review: THE THREE MUSKETEERS (2011) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Friday, 7 October 2011



Reinventing an oft-filmed classic literature movie like Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers is nothing new. After all, director Peter Hyams had done it before by mixing with acrobatic Chinese martial arts style choreographed by Xin-Xin Xiong in 2001's THE MUSKETEER. Ten years later, it's Paul W.S. Anderson (RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE) turn, which sees him attempting what would be the biggest-budgeted (at $100 million) reinvention of THE THREE MUSKETEERS ever made. But when I first heard the name "Paul W.S. Anderson" on the helm, my expectation is kept low. I mean, I personally feels the director who takes a potentially good material (e.g. RESIDENT EVIL) and botched everything up into lackluster effort. But surprisingly, his latest movie here is a fantastical, yet entertaining take of the classic tale with PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN vibe. It's still suffers from the director's usual haphazard direction but I have to say, this is easily his most exciting effort to date.

The movie opens in Venice, where a trio of Musketeers lead by Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), enigmatic ex-priest Aramis (Luke Evans) and brawny muscleman Porthos (Ray Stevenson) are on the secret mission along with Athos' partner, Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich) to steal the blueprint drawn up by Leonardo Da Vinci for an airship. The mission is a success, but Milady ends up betraying them as she is actually conspiring together with a noble Englishman named Buckingham (Orlando Bloom).

Three years later, the same trio of Musketeers are now reduced as low-life commoners who does nothing but picking up fight and drink a lot day after day. Enter the young and reckless D'Artagnan (Logan Lerman), who arrives in Paris from a small-town village to become a Musketeer. D'Artagnan and the trio of Musketeers nevertheless find themselves subsequently entangled in an elaborate conspiracy involving Milady, Buckingham and Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz), who plan to overturn the bratty teenage King Louis (Freddie Fox).

Alex Litvak and Andrew Davies' screenplay is chock full of plot, which clearly isn't Anderson's strong suit at all. Not surprisingly, the movie is heavily uneven especially in the bloated middle part where all the double crosses take place one after another. Yeah, it's just like the same old narrative overload plagued in the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movies.

Still, the movie is benefited from a gamely playful cast. It's also good to see Milla Jovovich playing against type as a two-faced femme fatale, while Orlando Bloom trades his usual good-guy character we often seen him in the movies for a refreshingly villainous turn. Likewise, Christoph Waltz is always entertaining to watch for when comes to play a devious character, even though he's far from his best here.

Paul W.S. Anderson's direction is energetic, even though there are a couple of patchy moments throughout its 110-minute length. The action scenes are stylish and entertaining (especially the slow-motion fight scene involving Milady pitting against a group of soldiers atop the clock tower as well as the climactic mano-a-mano confrontation at the tip of the rooftop between D'Artagnan and Rochefort, which played by Mads Mikkelsen).

Technical credits are top-notch, with Paul Haslinger's rousing score and Glen MacPherson's distinctively vibrant lensing. To top it off, Paul D. Austerberry's sumptuous production design and Pierre-Yves Gayraud's exquisitely detailed costume design are especially so visually arresting it's hard to take your eyes off.

The 3D effect which I've seen in this movie is adequate at best, which really isn't worthwhile to fork out extra money since I believe watching it in conventional cinema is actually more than enough.

By the way, THE THREE MUSKETEERS ends the movie with an open finale that clearly suggests a sequel in the future. It's obvious that Paul W.S. Anderson is trying to go the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN route. Let's hope he does it better in the second installment.

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