Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Three Musketeers: Movie Review

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas is one of literature's best known and greatest stories. The novel's plot is quite complex and full of intrigue and suspense. It tells the story of d'Artagnan, a young man who travels from his home in Gascony to Paris to seek adventure and hopefully join the Musketeers, a group of guards formed to protect the King. Enroute to Paris, D'Artagnan is beaten, robbed and has a letter of introduction to the Guard of the Musketeers stolen by the Comte de Rochefort, an agent of Cardinal Richelieu.

When he arrives in Paris, D'Artagnan manages to stumble into duels with three of King's Rroyal Musketeers, Athos, Aramis and Porthos. These three are down on their luck when D'Artagnan happens upon them. When all three musketeers show up for their respective duels, they are surprised to learn they are all fighting the same man - D'Artagnan. All four men are attacked by Cardinal Richelieu's men and a sword battle develops, which the musketeers and D'Artagnan win. Richelieu's men are driven off and Athos, Aramis and Porthos, impressed by D'Artagnan's courage and skill welcome him into their company.

All four musketeers become involved in political intrigue in the royal court, intrigue which involves Atho's ex-wife, Milday de Winter and D'Artagnan's new love, Constance who is a lady-in-waiting to the Queen Consort.

The Queen is having an affair with the Duke of Buckingham and as a token of her love, she gives him a diamond necklace. Cardinal Richelieu, an adviser to King, is really a traitor. He wishes to start a war between France and England and usurp the throne. He suggests to the King, Louis XIII, that he hold a ball and request his Queen wear the necklace, knowing full well that she no longer has it in her possession. The Queen asks for the help of the Musketeers who travel to England to try to retrieve the necklace from Buckingham. It eventually falls to D'Artagnan to get the necklace. Richelieu's agent, Lady de Winter tries repeatedly to kill D'Artagnan and in the end, gets her own just reward.

The latest movie adaptation, is really quite different than all the previous movies. Anyone hoping for a true rendition of the book would be sorely disappointed. This movie is pure fun and entertainment, and sticks to only the bare bones of Dumas'novel while being packed full of well known actors and introducing some outlandish twists.

Matthew Macfayden (Pride & Prejudice) plays Athos, Orlando Bloom is the Duke of Buckingham, Milla Jovovich is Lady de Winter, Mads Mikkelson is Rochefort and Logan Lerman has the role of D'Artagnan. The movie is full of handsome men, beautiful costuming, special effects and was shot in 3D.
For the first time, Orlando Bloom had the role of a villain in a movie and he didn't live up to expectations. His acting seemed overdone but without any real effect. He seemed unable to convey anything but a sense of one-upmanship. He was handsome in the period costumes but there was absolutely no sense from the storyline that he was ever involved with the Queen Consort. Instead, Mikkelson comes up as the true villain in this movie as he tries repeatedly to kill D'Artagnan. He has the looks, the bad-ass attitude and the sword play to go with it.

This adaptation adds a somewhat "steampunkish" look to both the storyline and the cinematography. The opening scene in which Athos (Macfayden) appears out of a canal to attack the Richelieu's guards looks like something out of a sci-fi movie or even Mission Impossible. The "windpunk" theme (since steam wasn't yet invented) comes from the addition of wind-powered flying ships that were designed by Leonardo da Vinci who supposedly hid the plans in a vault. The Musketeers initially steal the plans for the ships with the help of Lady de Winter who as double agent, then dupes the Musketeers and steals them back for Buckingham. Buckingham will then use the plans to create an advanced armada of ships. At this early point in the movie, it becomes apparent that this will be a very different Musketeers.

There's plenty of well choreographed sword fighting, some of it in slow motion and epic air ship battles, a la "Pirates of the Caribbean". Unlike the 1974 version with Michael York, The Three Musketeers is clean and has little overt violence. People get killed but there isn't much gore. At times the movie suffers from a poor script, particularly for D'Artagnan, played by Logan Lerman. His lines are awkward and at times even redundant and silly.

Overall, I enjoyed this movie adaptation. I went to the movies to be entertained and Three Musketeers succeeded in that respect. This movie had a lot of potential and good ideas that simply weren't explored to the depth necessary to make it a really good adaptation.

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