THE THREE MUSKETEERS (Paul W.S. Anderson)
After turning video games to live action movies (MORTAL KOMBAT, RESIDENT EVIL), Paul W.S. Anderson turns his attention to a much beloved classic literary piece, and quite heavily adapted swashbuckler by Alexandre Dumas. It's a nice departure, really because the RESIDENT EVIL movies are going from bad to worse. The last one is just plain unwatchable. Sorry Milla Jovovich.
Jovovich redeems herself though here. As the duplicitous Milady, Jovovich is sexy, seductive, and deadly. There seems to be plenty of room for playtime. Anderson's treatment is light and almost cartoonish, as if a Disney movie. The only one missing it seems is Jack Sparrow.
There are obvious deviations from the novel (airships!) but such upgrades are still welcome. The titular three musketeers Athos (Matthew Mcfadyen), Aramis (Luke Evans), and Porthos (Ray Stevenson) blend well together, and the young musketeer D'Artagnan (Logan Lerman) is easy to root for. Lerman embodies D'Artagnan with the energy and the ego of a youth proving his place in 17th century French court. He is even memorable here than in PERCY JACKSON.
Mads Mikkelsen is always compelling in my book (here he plays the one-eyed villain Rochefort). I couldn't have pictured a better Cardinal Richelieu than Christoph Waltz. And Orlando Bloom as a villain? Well, he certainly looks creepy with all that eyeliner.
And for the most part, when the characters aren't slicing each other, or manning the cannons of airships, or plotting assassinations, they are busy debating fashion. At least this version is joyful and humorous. The previous THREE MUSKETEERS adaptation by Peter Hyams is so depressing (literally). And no THREE MUSKETEERS adaptation can exist without Milady de Winter! I still have fond memories from the 1948 film where Lana Turner magnetically portrayed the traitorous woman in question.
THE THREE MUSKETEERS is a popcorn flick. Don't expect any higher aesthetic value relative to the genre. Anderson knows what he wants and does it. He wants it over the top and that's what the film actually is. It works because the players are having fun and the energy is contagious. Anderson is really an action director. Glad he finally put his skill to good use.