Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Review: The Three Musketeers (2011)

Okay Hollywood, listen up: calm down with all the goddamn remakes and reboots for a while.  Please.  How many times are we going to make films based on The Three Musketeers?  This will be the third one released in my lifetime and I’m getting a little sick of it.  Regardless here we are today not unlike last year with the Robin Hood film by Ridley Scott.  That film was pretty damn mediocre at best and Scott is a really good director.   This film was directed by Paul W. Anderson whose film list includes the Resident Evil movies, the first Mortal Kombat movie, and the Death Race remake.  If that doesn’t sound alike the resume of a director you’d expect to be making an adventure film based on a literary classic you’re not alone. 

For what I assume is a very, very small minority of you currently reading this blog this film is based on the first and most famous book in the d'Artagnan Romances series written by Alexndre Dumas, a fictional account of the life d’Artagnan.  As far as I can tell this film differs from most of its predecessors in that it’s an unrepentant action film.  To put it simply this is a 21st Century action film based on a 19th Century historical novel (Set in the 17th Century).  And since by “21st Century Action Film” I mean “Copied from Zack Snyder’s 300” you can begin to see why I had doubts going into this movie. 

Full review below.

Just Four Dudes
On a mission to Venice the Three Musketeers, Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Porthos (Ray Stevenson) and Aramis (Luke Evans) along with, for some reason, Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich) recover weapon blueprints designed by Leonardo Da Vinci.   However de Winter betrays them by incapacitating the team and handing the blueprints over to their archenemy the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom).  A year later d’Artagnan (Logan Lerman), a young hot headed swordsman and son of a former Musketeer, journeys from his small village to Paris in order to seek out the heroes and join their ranks.  When he gets there however all he ends up finding is trouble. 

Okay, let’s try to get through the positives before my head explodes. 

I loved the costume designs for the main characters.  Though at first I was a bit sad to see the traditional musketeer uniform unused for this film I did really like the look of the characters nonetheless.  I’ll go on to say I enjoyed the costume design all around, actually.   It was bright and colorful and attractive, but I’m not a historian so I have no idea how true to form the clothes were to 17th Century fashions but I do know what I like.  The swordplay here was also pretty good as well. I’m a sucker for sword fights and when the movie actually remembers that it’s supposed about swashbuckling adventurers and actually showcases a swordfight they’re pretty cool. 

The four main characters all do a solid job and happily end up being the most likable and interesting people in the film, which you’d think would be a given but the movie seems to be confused as to who’s the main characters here…but I’m getting ahead of myself.   A surprising positive is Orlando Bloom’s performance.  I don’t think I’ve talked about him much in this blog but I’ve disliked him for years; I was convinced that he just plays the same character over and over again and that that character was incredibly dull to begin with.  Well the fact is that not only does Bloom play something completely beyond the range I’m used to seeing him work in but he steals the goddamn show in this film.  The Duke of Buckingham, a cross between a dandy and a 1960s Batman villain, is so incredibly corny and diabolical, and Bloom is clearly having such a fun time with him, that he ends up being the most entertaining part of any scene he’s in.  If I ever accused Bloom of being a bad actor I humbly retract my statement and apologize.  I’m going to have to assume the problem isn’t him but rather Hollywood for typecasting him.

The Duke after leaving a clue for Batman about his next heist
Now then on to the bad…every other goddamn thing in this awful picture!

First of all this mindless drivel is the type of crap I expect from summer release, not the fall when we’re gearing up towards Oscar Bait season.  Yet here it is.  And let’s be clear; this isn’t an adventure film, it’s an action film and if you can’t distinguish between the two genres then congratulations; you’re part of the vocal majority. “Mindless” really is the right word for this film as it’s relies more on spectacle than substance all the way down the line.   This isn’t too surprising considering the director.   And yes, this film does in fact feel like I’m watching Resident Evil without zombies.   In addition to it being all flash in the pants it also suffers from a noticeably terrible script.  The dialogue is vulgar, full of poop and fart jokes, and generally a mess.  Plot conveniences is constantly in effect to the point where it almost feels like it was written by a twelve year old after their first semester in a creative writing class (The heroes are going to prevent war with England by…sneaking into England and gunning down the Tower of London in broad daylight?).  These two factors are the film’s main problems and it made sitting through it a chore for me, but there are still other issues at work here.

For a movie called “The Three Musketeers” one would think we’d be spending most of our time following them but I swear to God the movie seems significantly more interested in Milady de Winter and Cardinal Richelieu (Played by Christoph Waltz, who seems to be Hollywood's "Go To Villain" this year) as we spend a mind numbingly long time following them as they pretty much do nothing but talk and scheme.  Actually that’s not fair; the Cardinal talks a lot and forever apparently but de Winter actually has several scenes that make her look like a star, including a sort of useless sequence of her stealing the Queen’s necklace that could have and should have been 100 times less extravagant.  Now the reason this is bad is because both these characters are villains who are taking character development time away from our four main characters.  Hell, at some point the Three Musketeers, save for d’Artagnan, simply vanish from the movie for a while (Implied to be getting drunk in their home).  Hell, I would have been happy with more swordfights involving those guys if we weren’t going to get developed well.   I assume this is happened partly because Waltz and Jovovich are bigger stars than the actual protagonists (And that Jovovich is married to the director).  It’s too much.  All for all the time they take to make Jovovich look like 17th Century James Bond should have been used to more deeply characterize the true main characters.   There is absolutely no reason for Milady to be as big of a character as she ended up being (Also she was probably not married to Athos.  Go figure).

Not the star of this film, despite what the film tries to tell you
Also the accents bother me.  Yes yes, I know; I’m probably being hard on a Hollywood film when they decide to use “All Purpose English Accent” rather than a country’s proper accent since, as it’s been explained to me, people are stupid.  So that everyone wasn’t talking like they were French, seeing as they all live in France, isn’t the biggest deal on Earth.  But WHY DIDN’T EVERYONE HAVE THE SAME F**KING ACCENT!!!  This is a major pet peeve of mine in films with accents.  If we are to believe that they are actually speaking French and we, the audience, are just hearing English for our sakes than I feel at the least everyone should sound as if they’re from the same part of the world.  Why does only three out of four main characters speak with similar accents?  Why does de Winter sound like she’s American?  Why is the Cardinal German?!  THEY’RE ALL SUPPOSED TO BE FRENCH, GODDAMN IT!!!!  *Ahem* Moving on.   This film also had a strange comedic streak which came off more cheesy and juvenile than anything else (Which goes along well with the poor script).

This movie sucks.  When you think of “Dumb Movies”, ones that appeal to the lowest common denominator, this is a penultimate example.  I truly felt the filmmakers had zero interest in challenging me here and seemed to think I was a dummy who could be distracted by shinny things and explosions but unfortunately for them and myself I am not and thus most just felt annoyed and bored.  I do like over the top ridiculousness at times but this was a perfect example of things just not working.  When you have airships having a sky battle in the middle of Paris and the King of France has no idea about it you know you’ve stumbled upon a truly moronic film.   I can’t fail this flick because it’s not one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen but it may damn well be the worst of the year so far.  If you like the idea of seeing the characters in a film I suggest you go rent the 1993 Three Musketeers movie with Chris O’Donnell which, granted, is also a stupid movie (But for different reasons than this one) it at least successfully manages to be fun without insulting your intelligence.

Historical novels are for pussies!  MORE AIRSHIPS!!!
 I give The Three Musketeers 2 Adorable Pandas out of 5.


-The costumes are really good

-I like the four protagonists

-Orlando Bloom makes me look like a moron by being super awesome in his role


-The script is a mess

-The film is all sizzle, no steak

-Too much time focused away from the main characters


The next blog will be Beta is Dead's 150th post so it will be be little special.    You'll need to come back to find out exactly what I'll be ranting about but here's a few clues:



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