Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Night Movie Review: The Three Musketeers! (2011)

Oh hey, you guys, remember Pirates of the Carribean!? Remember how much goddamn filthy money that series made with its flamboyant quirky characters, giant set-pieces, and over-the-top action!? Surely there's a similarly swashbuckling story we can give the same treatment to? What about Three Musketeers? Could we sex that up to appeal to an attention deficient crowd that will probably text through it anyway? Come to think of it, what's Orlando Bloom doing?...

Paul W.S. Anderson's 2011 embellishing of Alexandre Dumas' classic The Three Musketeers is not the sort of film that I would normally see. And yet I was entertained in spite of myself. Does that mean it's a good film? Oh god no, but it delivers everything it promises. Find out more of what I thought, and watch the trailer, in my Friday Night mini-review, after the jump!

So this is what we're looking at...

First, I'll gleefully display my ignorance at having never read the original story - which probably puts Paul W.S. Anderson and I on the same page. I also probably can't shed a lot of light on what the film is about - because despite hints of political intrigue, it's really about sword-fighting, drinking, jumping around on airships, and finding a necklace which will inexplicably prove to a foppish king that his beloved isn't banging Orlando Bloom. Orlando Bloom also has pleasingly audacious facial hair which upstages him in every scene.

That said, the characters are all relatively enjoyable and performed with vigour - especially those in supporting roles. The king's great, Ray Stevenson is always a treat to watch, Christoph Waltz is fun although he doesn't have a ton of things to do, and Milla Jovovich is an intriguing foil, although she is 100% convinced they are still shooting Resident Evil. (I've only seen part of a Resident Evil movie and I'm pretty sure it involved them navigating past a trapped corridor. Sure enough, in Three Musketeers, in one of Jovovich's first scenes she is doing just that).

The only downsides with the performances are the overtly American Logan "Percy Jackson" Lurman who never quite seems to mesh with the setting, and British comedian James "I can see your belly" Corden who plays a very forced and over-used comic relief role that I initially mistook for a woman.

Overall the weakest thing about the film for me is that is incredibly broad. It's trying to appeal to as many of you as possible, and it doesn't take a lot of risks and a lot of the humour is pandering and bland. There's a point where Corden does some stupid pratfall during a battle and says some ridiculously toothless one-liner like, "Time to ask for a pay rise!". I had this moment of thinking, "Really? That's the best that they could come up with?" But now I realise that it's not that the writing is bland because of incompetence - it's most likely deliberately designed to be bland, unchallenging and inoffensive, in order to appeal to the widest potential audience. Cynics like you and I might scoff at such things but studios don't make back huge investments by making films for a bitter elite (see Scott Pilgrim). It's why films like Garfield, Alvin and the Chipmunks and the Smurfs make so much money - they play to all cultures, all backgrounds, all languages, and all levels of educations.

So the film is flashy, dumb and shamelessly baits for an overstuffed sequel that nobody needs. But it's real strength is that Anderson does manage to keep it fresh and fun for the most part and it does rocket along at a jaunty pace. The action is satisfying and by the time the unfeasibly elaborate airships are crashing together, it's hard not to have a smile on your face. If you can accept it for what it is, and be swept up in its flair, then its not dull, and it's not even that bad, considering how silly it is.

It truly puts the dumbass in Dumas.


  1. This was nowhere near as bad as I expected it to be, though I really hope the sequel involves them killing D'artagnan. And also involves Buckingham wearing a whole lot of puffy shirts.

  2. I quite liked the design and the action was wonderfully staged and filmed. The first fight with the 4 was fantastic. Jovovich always looks great on film and she does add a little style.

    My problem with this film was some absolutely awful scripted dialogue and delivery of dialogue.

    Overall I enjoyed it, not a great film but definitely the bar I want my dumb action films to be at least as good as or better than