You know, I’ve never really understood why it’s called The Three Musketeers when it’s always about the fourth one — surely there’s an origin story (or three) we’re missing out on here – but to be perfectly honest, this features quite low on the list of things that baffle me about Paul W.S. Anderson’s adaptation. Far more pressing is the question of how Anderson, the man responsible for Resident Evil and Alien vs. Predator, is still permitted to stand behind cameras and yell things with any kind of authority. That should be a privilege! A privilege held exclusively by those who can stand behind cameras and yell things that do not, under any circumstances, lead to movies like The Three Musketeers 3D being made.
Before continuing, it’s worth considering the possibility that this was all just an innocent mistake. Maybe Anderson thought he was making a subversive parody of The Three Musketeers, one designed to point out how inane it would be if videogame logic was used to sully Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel. Or maybe, just maybe, he thought he was making The Three Musket Ears; a direct-to-DVD mockbuster intended to piggyback off of the release of the real movie, which was being made elsewhere by an actual filmmaker. You know, one who, upon standing behind a camera, yells sensible things like “No! I don’t think we should make a Three Musketeers movie about the proliferation of CGI airships! Whatever we do, let’s not do that!”
At least the costumes are nice!
The story itself is far too convoluted encapsulate in a mere paragraph, but think of it as Resident Evil in a corset; a disconnected string of action set pieces where Anderson’s wife, Milla Jovovich, back-flips her way through tripwires and dangerous contraptions laid out by none other than Leonardo da Vinci himself (who clearly had nothing better to do with his time). Still, looking back over Anderson’s repertoire, it could have been much worse; Athos (Matthew Macfayden) could have been an Alien, Porthos (Ray Stevenson) a Predator and Aramis (Luke Evans) a zombie, although maybe they’re saving all that for the hinted-at sequel. Here, only the actors appear to be zombies, the exception being Macfayden, a versatile performer who deserves much, much better. As for Evans, I spent half the film thinking he was Orlando Bloom, which I must admit, left me feeling a bit silly when Bloom turned out to be playing the Duke of Buckingham. Still, with that accent, I’m sure he felt much sillier.
Let me talk a bit about the fourth musketeer D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman), because after all, he’s the “hero” of this film. D’Artagnan is introduced innocently enough, leaving his Ma andPa behind and setting off for Paris in a hope of teaming up with the famed Three Musketeers. But, like a drunken polo-popped skinhead who’s just been kicked out of a nightclub, the first thing he does is pick a futile fight with scar-faced guardsman Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen). Being the right-hand man to the devious French Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz), Rochefort shows no mercy to the wannabe swordsman, and in fact comes mightily close to killing him. It’s a damn shame he didn’t, because I don’t think the silver screen has seen a more infuriatingly smug little twerp this side of a Star Wars prequel. 19-year-old Lerman, with his dollish face yet lifeless presence, appears to be the first prototype to be churned out of the Hollywood Hunk Machine 2000, a contraption that smashes together DNA from the likes of Justin Bieber, Alex Pettyfer, Rob Pattinson, Taylor Lautner and Zac Efron into one irresistible tween magnet. Well, that’s the theory; they haven’t worked out all the kinks just yet.
The insanely irritable Logan Lurman, who I hope is having a bad day.
Look, I could harp on about how stupefyingly dumb it all gets, how tediously derivative the action is (one scene being a shot-for-shot Matrix rip off) and how the accents manage to be everything but French, but we’d be here all day. I could also attempt to calculate the precise number of black holes that must align for a movie this outrageously awful to come into existence, but given that the last time this happened was only a year ago (see: The Last Airbender), I think we’re all better off not knowing. Ignorance is bliss, they say.
Alexandre Dumas isn’t merely turning in his grave, he’s half way through re-enacting ‘Thriller’.