In the wake of Twilight and 80s remakes it makes sense to give the tween treatment to works of classic literature. And when I mean sense, I actually mean cents because the only person who thought a teen version of The Three Musketeers would work was the person seeing dollar signs. Director Paul W.S. Anderson takes his Resident Evil expertise (what little there is), and turns in a completely ridiculous version of The Three Musketeers that plays like a bad version of The Hills.
The Three Musketeers are retired after being conned by the evil Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich), yet young D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) desperately wants to be one. When Milady crafts a scheme that would destroy the French monarchy, D’Artagnan must reunite the Musketeers and save the day.
If anything good can be said about this film it just might inspire teens to check out other film versions or even the book (or at least the Kindle versions). The movie has the barebones of the Musketeers story but at some point in the movie I thought Mickey Mouse, Goofy, and Donald would appear to liven up the movie. The palaces are gorgeous and the costumes are nice but seeing as how the trailers are billing this as an action adventure, it doesn’t work.
When I was watching this I actually turned to my friend and said they should have renamed to this to The Wild Wild League of Extraordinary Avengers…featuring the Three Musketeers. The script is all over the board and pulls such ridiculousness out of so many bad movies. There’s a flying blimp battle/flying ship that looks hilarious. The steam punk environment is only utilized to craft the above stupid dirigibles and show off copious amounts of cleavage, and Milla Jovovich plays Uma Thurman’s character in The Avengers. This film ends up not being about the Three Musketeers at all and by that I mean the original trio of Porthos, Athos and Aramis.
The film is all about D’Artagnan played by Logan Lerman. He is the star of the film, and only gets the Musketeers back together….because someone has to get the band back together! The Musketeers themselves have one-word characterization, no back-story, or anything to convey they’re famed warriors. The opening action scene gives you all you know about the Musketeers and its one word descriptions. You learn Porthos (Ray Stevenson) is brash, Athos (Matthew Macfayden) is in love with Milady, and Aramis (Luke Evans) is religious and quiet. Wow, what a trio! D’Artagnan and his attempts to save the crowd just appear annoying and Lerman doesn’t have any acting chops, instead rehashing Christian Slater’s role as Will Scarlet in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
When we’re not focused on D’Artagnan and his love of a hot blond lady-in-waiting, we’re meant to be interested in the frazzled love-life of the King and Queen of France played by Freddie Fox and Juno Temple respectively. Their relationship plays like a bad comedy of manners with the King trying to test the Queen’s fidelity over a stolen necklace which vaguely plays into the film’s longer narrative. The problem is the King is played as a hopelessly gay character you just think the guy’s running from having to have sex with the queen. I doubt that’s was the plan but that’s how the acting and story comes off. It culminates with the King of France…in the 1700s…actually trying to tell a personal story to D’Artagnan while prefacing it continuously with “my friend, not me, but a friend of mine.”
Add in the typical Anderson staples like excessive slow-motion and non-stop action and the movie feels like a two-hour boring opus. There are so many action scenes from the beginning to the end that it’s just ridiculous. Literally there’s a scene that has D’Artagnan walking from one place to another and having to fight! Anderson just seems to be throwing in action because he can…or he knows the story is weak.
As if The Three Musketeers could get any worse you have the actors populating it. Everyone mumbles and just drops their voice a register lower to convey menace. Stevenson is a lumbering idiot, Macfadyn is a morose Mr. Darcy (again), and Evans just looks like Orlando Bloom. That’s even funnier considering Bloom is playing a bad guy and just looks like a pompous ass. Lerman is constantly referred to as “cocky” but he just looks like a high school jerk. He and Jovovich are the worst offenders of the accents needed. They both sound American while everyone else is British…in France.
So that’s The Three Musketeers. Let’s hope it is forgotten quickly because there is nothing redeeming about the film except how a classic film can be told so horribly.
Author: Kristen Lopez, Editor in Chief
Kristen Lopez is the editor-in-chief of CC2K and a freelance pop culture essayist. Her work has appeared on Roger Ebert, The Hollywood Reporter, and The Daily Beast. When she’s not burning down Film Twitter she runs two podcasts, the female-centric film show Citizen Dame, and the classic film-themed Ticklish Business.