The Three Musketeers (2011)

The Three Musketeers in 3D will probably make Alexandre Dumas, père, roll in his grave for the heavy tweaking that’s going on in the story of the Musketeers and the usage of random American and British accents instead of French. But fortunately for me, I got it.

The Paul WS Anderson version of Dumas’ tale of bravery and loyalty is mindless, outrageous and highly irreverent to the original source and its predecessors. It has way too much Milla Jovovich and not enough Musketeers. It also features Orlando Bloom with eyeliner and costumes that are bigger than an airplane, Christoph Waltz with a very poncy wig and Mads Mikkelsen with an eye patch that I wish had been in place when he played that one-eyed guy in Valhalla Rising. There’s also Logan Lerman as D’Artagnan who, in his American accent, dares to demand Luke Evans’ Aramis to speak “in French!” (I can easily affix the word “dude” right at the end there.)

Despite all this, I spent the entire two hours sitting in the cinema thoroughly entertained by the movie. It defies logic: how can a campy take on a solemn story be so much fun to watch? But as much as purists and Dumas scholars and pompous critics will try to convince me otherwise, I can’t help but appreciate the direction Anderson & Co. took in handling the material for the movie. I think I would’ve been indignant and disappointed if they tried to make a solemn movie with full-fledged drama that matched the 1993 Disney version starring Chris O’Donnell and Kiefer Sutherland (or any of the previous versions that had been made before–take your pick, each generation does have its own Three Musketeers). I’d rather not see a diabolical Richelieu from Waltz as Tim Curry had played him because I grew up with that version and I loved it and I didn’t need another version like that.

Or worse, what if they tried to match the book and failed? That would’ve been catastrophic and I would’ve been even angrier. Mind you, this sort of catastrophe had happened before. It’s called Clash Of The Titans. I definitely wasn’t looking forward to see another one like that.

This 2011 edition never claimed to be ‘the definitive’ or ‘the original’ Three Musketeers. Even before the movie was released, it’s already been marketed as a version of the tale that “your parents or grandparents have ever seen before”. It’s made in 3D – one of the best uses of the technology in movies that I’ve seen this year – and it has steampunk influences. Think more ‘sci-fi’ than ‘period drama’ and you’re on the right track. I, for one, prepared myself more for a Resident Evil-esque fare than a Marie Antoinette-like dish so the movie came out exactly as I wanted and that’s how I managed to catch all the tongue-in-cheek humor of the film and end up gushing about it with my friend for two full hours after walking out of the cinema.

It’s a film that I call an “eye candy film”. If all else fails, you will at least still be treated to a highly good-looking cast (watch out for Luke Evans; he’s a far sexier Aramis than Charlie Sheen ever was), beautiful costumes (you will envy the Duke of Buckingham’s collection of shoes) and gorgeous set decoration/production design. The action is fast paced, and enhanced by the flawless 3D, and the choreography fluid and dynamic. The under-25 portion of the cast – Lerman, Gabriella Wilde, Juno Temple and Freddie Fox – are showing massive potential that I hope will make them stars in the future. Fox, in particular, stole the show from everyone. If his portrayal of Louis is not evidence of a great huge talent, I don’t know what is.

I never thought I would say this but I sincerely hope Anderson will considering making a sequel. One Three Musketeers movie where the fighting is done in corsets and fancy tailored suits is definitely not enough.