The latest version of The Three Musketeers by Paul W.S. Anderson can best be described as a little bit embarrassing. I was never expecting a traditionalist re-telling, so the flying ships and machine guns didn’t bother me. What bothered me was that I was expecting something totally ridiculous that was at least fun to watch. Instead it was something totally ridiculous that often induced cringes and impassioned sobs of ‘Why?’
The three titular characters are not half-bad, played with some competence and sense of character by their respective actors, but Logan Lerman as D’Artagnan irritated me throughout. He was so Hollywood that even in this Hollywood-ised, explosion-filled version of the tale he seemed out of place. His accent and mannerisms could not even briefly be removed from a 21st century Hollywood setting.
On the issue of accents, it certainly takes you out of the world of the film when you realise that every character has a different one. Having a mix of French, German, British and American accents, while modernist is just confusing. I know that making all the actors put on French accents would sound a bit too ‘Allo ‘Allo, but surely there’s a middle ground somewhere.
I also thought this film might be something of a career revival for Orlando Bloom, following getting cut from the last Pirates of the Caribbean and, to the best of my knowledge, having not really done anything of note in 4 years. But despite the fact that he appears to be having a lot of fun with this he can’t seem to get over the hurdle that he’s not a particularly talented actor. He does an ok job, but he needs to put some work in if he still wants to be getting gigs when he’s 40+.
Christoph Waltz however, as Richelieu makes a perfectly acceptable villain (as always) and Freddie Fox is pretty good as King Louis XIII, though I must say that the facial hair on a 14-year old confused me throughout. Mostly because a joke is never made of it despite the set-up being there.
Possibly the biggest problem with the film is that its script panders to the lowest common denominator. There are far too many moments when character motivations are stated plainly in the dialogue, leaving absolutely no room for audience interpretation. Although it’s a common affliction of mainstream cinema, it does bother me when a film assumes that its viewers are such sociopaths that they can’t interpret human emotion on their own.
Visually the film at least delivers, with plenty of opulent sets and explosions to keep most viewers happy. Thankfully, Anderson also knows that 3D doesn’t just mean stuff flying out of the screen. The 3D is subtle and inoffensive, largely being used to add depth rather than assault the corneas.
The film is not completely devoid of fun, but the sheer level of ridiculousness you need to accept to gain access to that fun was usually beyond the capacity of this viewer. Should have gone with my gut and seen Contagion instead.