Paul WS Anderson takes a break from the zombie-killing ?Resident Evil? franchise for some retro-steampunk (ish) silliness with ?The Three Muskateers?. Starring his lovely wife Milla Jovovich as Milady, Orlando Bloom as the Duke of Buckingham, Logan Lerman as D?Artagnan and Ray Stevenson, Matthew Macfadyen and Luke Evans as the infamous trio Porthos, Aramis and Athos.
OK, elephant in the room time?is it a worthy adaptation of the beloved source novel by Dumas? Well, erm, um?OK, it is not loyal to the source material in many ways (flying airships?!), and it has the usual Anderson action set-piece flair?but in many other respects it is, in my opinion, a fair representation of what Dumas was aiming for in his novel. The political machinations are played for laughs, rather than as the potentially earth-shattering events they were, but then this is an entertainment movie, not a History Channel documentary. However, that said, this is one of the first times I?ve got a real feel for the true duplicitous nature of Cardinal Richelieu and his craving for the French throne. What Anderson pulls together here reminds me a little of the Antonio Banderas version of Zorro, something unique and compelling with enough nods to the original to be authentic, but trying something new to entertain a modern audience.
So, the story?nothing too radical here. Cardinal Richelieu launches a plot to overthrow King Louis XIII (an incredibly fey and rather enchanting Freddie Fox) involving his Queen and her friendship with the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom in full-on cheese-mongering villainous style). In to this world walks innocent musketeer-wannabe D?Artagnan who ends up in a duel with each of the three muskateers, followed by a set-piece fight with the Cardinal?s guards, headed by the ridiculous fool Rochfort (I swear Anderson has made his Rochfort a clone of the one in Dogtanian!) From here, D?Artagnan befriends the muskateers, the King and one of the Queen?s ladies-in-waiting. Before long, the plot is in full swing, with the double-dealing Milady (played by Milla in eye-watering 3D bosom-o-vision) leading our heroes from France to England. It is here that the film takes a giant leap for steampunk-kind, with airships, machine guns, a spectacular attack on the Tower of London and a whole lotta SFX going on.
Does all this retro-action and steampunkery work? Well, for me, yes it does. This is an unashamedly fun movie. It doesn?t take itself too seriously, and neither should the viewer. Sit back and be taken in by its beauty and lavish settings. Anderson has produced a stunningly epic looking movie, using wonderful locations to build the world of Louis XIII. The actors are all clearly having a good time, mixing the serious moments with plenty of ham n cheese! And there is action and adventure, swashbuckling and eye-candy throughout the movie. It is well-paced and feels just the right length. All in all Anderson has created what I think is his best film to date (other than the seriously superb Event Horizon).
So, the 3D? Worth watching or not? Actually I would say yes, the 3D version works pretty well. As with all live-action 3D films, the faster action scenes can be a little blurry, but Anderson has tried hard to avoid the usual pitfalls. He used the same cameras Cameron developed and used for Avatar, adding a decent feeling of multi-focal depth. He also mostly avoids the trap of having things flying ?out? of the screen. Sadly he doesn?t avoid things zooming ?across? the screen, which still suffer from the predictable blurriness of fast movement. But all in all, the 3D adds a new and welcome layer of entertainment to this film. And fans of Milla will enjoy all of her scenes?she and her husband clearly know what her fans like to see!
This is in no way the perfect action film, but it is definitely an enjoyable one and well worth a viewing. The 3D isn?t a requirement, but adds to the enjoyment factor. The 3DBD set comes with both 3D and 2D versions plus a host of special features including featurettes and commentaries, some deleted and extended scenes and trivia sections. Good value for money and a great night in, ?The Three Muskateers? is a film you don?t have to be an ardent Paul WS Anderson fan to enjoy.