Directed by: Pal W.S. Anderson
Starring: Logan Lerman, Milla Jovovich, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Waltz, Luke Evans, Ray Stevenson, Matthew Macfadyen
It seems that half the movies released are reboots, remakes or re-something or other, but it’s nothing new. Movie makers have been recycling material from the beginning. The first Three Musketeers movie that Wikipedia lists is a French production from 1903. It goes on to list twenty one other live action adaptations, six animated adaptations and seven sequels. So Paul W. S. Anderson is really just continuing a grand tradition.
The Three Musketeers movies may be a grand tradition but is Anderson’s version worth a look? It is. The screenplay by Andrew Davies and Alex Litvak take plenty of liberties with the original tale, another movie making tradition, but they come up with a fun mash up of buddy, heist and swashbuckling elements. Combine this with a rousing score, spot on casting and absolutely gorgeous sets and locations and you end up with fantastic justification for purchasing your Blu-ray player.
The movie starts in Venice with an action set piece a la James Bond. Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, the Three Musketeers played respectively by Matthew Mcfadyen, Ray Stevenson and Luke Evans are joined by Milady de Winter, embodied by Milla Jovovich and between them steal the three keys necessary to open Leonardo da Vinci’s vault. Which they proceed to raid for plans for an airship. After a dramatic escape the Duke of Buckingham, Orlando Bloom, shows up and with the help of a little betrayal relieves the Musketeers of the plans.
One year later D’Artagnan, Logan Lerman, is fencing in a beautiful green field with his father on their farm in Gascony. They are having one last practice session before D’Artagnan leaves for Paris to fulfill his dream of becoming a Musketeer. D’Artagnan’s father presents him with his sword,the sword that he wielded serving in the King’s Musketeers during his own youth. With his father’s sword, a small bag of gold and a long in the tooth horse called Buttercup D’Artagnan makes his way toward Paris. At an inn on the way he manages to insult and challenge to a duel Rochefort, Mads Mikkelsen, Cardinal Richelieu’s Captain of the guard. Rather than bother dueling the young and impudent upstart, Rochefort is just going to kill him, but Milady who is now in the employ of the Cardinal orders Rochefort to spare him simply because she likes the look of him.
Shortly after D’Artagnan arrives in Paris he spots Rochefort and chases after him. In the ensuing chase he manages to insult and challenge to a duel Athos, Porthos and Aramis separately in the span of a few minutes. He does seem to have a talent for getting into trouble and to his frustration he never catches up with Rochefort. Cockily he schedules all three duels in the same courtyard one after the other. When the Three Musketeers all show up to duel the same young man they are taken with D’Artagnans ability to create so much havoc in so little time. Still there is business at hand and just as D’Aragnan and Athos square off Richelieu’s guards show up chomping at the bit for the opportunity to arrest all three of the Musketeers at one time, the Musketeer’s loyalty to the King stands in the way of Richelieu’s ambitions. While the Musketeers wisely accept that they are about to be arrested D’Artagnan charges the guards. When he is not immediately struck down, the Musketeer’s decide to even the odds. Since the title of the movie isn’t Richelieu’s Guards it’s not that big a leap to guess that the four manage to best the guards. After the fight the Three Musketeer’s take D’Artagnan under their wing and the story really gets going.
From here the four get tangled up in a Richelieu’s plot to discredit the young Queen and tie the King even closer to his counsel. The Duke of Buckingham and Milady of course show back up again as well as the airship that was in the plans from the beginning of the movie. And of course D’Artagnan does finally get his duel with Rochefort.
The plot gets a mite thin in places and there is one big heist piece that makes my head hurt a little bit if I think about it too much, but it doesn’t really matter. The story is presented with such boldness and panache I didn’t care. The Three Musketeer’s is fun, it’s also truly gorgeous. I mentioned it before and it’s worth stating again; the sets and locations are incredible. The costumes are magnificently ridiculous in all of their 17th century poofiness and pomposity. Miraculously Bloom, Jovovich and Freddie Fox, who played the young King Louie, bear the brunt of the silliest of the costumes and manage to pull it off and make it work. The score alternates from light and playful to stirring always complementing the onscreen action. The Three Musketeer’s is not going to change anybodies life but it’s a superb way to spend an evening.
The video is presented in 1080p with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio and it looks fantastic. The amount of detail is amazing and the colors are deep rich. I never noticed any aliasing, moire or any other digital artifacts.
The audio is presented in English and Spanish in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. There are English and Spanish subtitles. The dialog, foley and score are always well mixed the one never stepping on the other.
The Packaging and Bonus Features:
The Blu-ray disc comes in a standard blue tinted Blu-ray case with a cardboard slipcase. The artwork is a bit contrived but honest. The animated menu’s are great. There is an audio commentary with the film makers which is worth a listen, a bunch of extended and deleted scenes along with a handful of featurettes. There is also something called Access: Three Musketeer’s which is sort of a supercharged pop up video feature which manages to stream featurette style material along with trivia into the flow of the movie.
Overall (not an average) 9/10
Your always going to offend someone adapting something as beloved as Dumas’s The Three Musketeer’s. So I think Anderson’s taking the right approach. Take the heart of the story, the friendship between Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and D’Artagnan, and then just go for broke. I loved it.
The Movie: 9/10
The Video: 9/10
The Audio: 9/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features: 8/10
Overall (not an average): 9/10