“The Three Musketeers” Movie Review

     The many times made into a movie Alexandre Dumas novel “The Three Musketeers” gets yet another treatment from none other than director Paul W.S. Anderson (The Resident Evil films and Alien vs Predator).  At a minimum, this guarantees light hearted fare with plenty of lavish action set pieces which are Anderson’s specialty.  The story is built in, though the film has very little resemblance to the novel aside from the main characters themselves, and this seems to give Anderson a nice template to work from.  The filmmakers are clearly trying to get a piece of the “Pirates of the Carribean” pie by using the Musketeer story and integrating a lot of what made that franchise successful.  For the most part, they have succeeded.  Making this viewing even better was the fact it was the first film where I got to attend the “premiere” prior to it hitting theaters, thanks to my good friends Mike and Holly.

     Anderson utilizes the main characters from the original story.  Present is the young D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) who forces his way into meeting the three down on their luck Musketeers: Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Aramis (Luke Evans), and Porthos (Ray Stevenson).  Each is fine in their respective roles and the fight choreography and sword play is outstanding in all of the many fight scenes throughout the film.  The three villains in the film are more likely to be recognized by American audiences.  In his usual bad guy role, Christoph Waltz plays the evil Cardinal Richelieu who is always up to no good behind the back of King Louis, his boss.  He conspires with the Duke of Buckingham, played by Orlando Bloom, to create a reason for a full scale war between France and England and does so with the help of the beautiful Milady, a double agent played by Milla Jovovich.

     The film is not to be taken serious and plays as a family film for the most part.  It is loaded with many an effort at slap stick comedy and the fight sequences are all bloodless.  The numerous victims of the Musketeers expert swordplay just seem to fall down.  On the creative side, the many locations are astounding both from afar and close up thanks to a smart production design and excellent use of the 3D medium the film was shot in.  Anderson does something that most of the 3D Hollywood productions don’t do.  He actually shoots with the same 3D camera system James Cameron used in “Avatar”, rather than convert 2D footage in post production.  He did this with success in last year’s “Resident Evil: Afterlife” and has done it again.  The film looks fantastic.

     This story has always been a land based affair, but to add a bit of that “Pirates” feel, an interesting plot device has been written into the film.  In the beginning, the Musketeers are double crossed in the height of their glory by Milady as she steals plans for a giant flying boat.  Think of a pirate ship outfitted with a blimp that allows it to fly.  The ship itself is outfitted with several levels of canons and flame throwers making for a formidable war machine.  We are first introduced to the plans becoming a reality when the Duke of Buckingham lands rather sloppily in France for a meeting with King Louis.  Later in the film, the massive vehicles are featured as a major part of the film’s third act.  Just their presence alone gives the filmmakers a new playground to construct their action sequences all while flying above English and French cityscapes.  Pretty cool stuff.

     Perhaps this is a case of going in with lowered expectations, after all the studio itself seems to have forgotten the art of advertising in North America as if to concede this is a film that will make its money in Europe.  Even so, I enjoyed “The Three Musketeers” and the odds are, you will too.  It’s well made and gives you a side to cheer for and a side to cheer against.  Plus it has Milla Jovovich.  Need I say more?  GRADE: B