The Three Musketeers (**)

Easily the weakest version of this well liked story to date, ‘The Three Musketeers’ continues to confirm that filmmaker Paul W.S. Anderson is incapable of making a movie that makes any sense at all.  I have no issue that he pretty much takes what he likes from the classic tale and leaves the rest, since that can sometimes be a welcome new twist on the story.  My problem is that he forgot any of the wit that made the characters interesting.  The film also rather nonsensical and often has an out of place manic energy to it, but that’s par for the course for him.  This is almost as if a non-zombie ‘Resident Evil’ film was made as a period piece.  It doesn’t help that the screenplay he was given is barely anything worth mentioning, but he still could have pretended like he cared a bit.  I wasn’t expecting to love this flick, but I was expecting to have a little fun.  Sadly, there’s no fun to be found here, just a mind numbing retread that finds itself getting worse as it tries to be more different.  It’s hard for a movie to do that, but somehow Anderson and company find a way.

In this take on the legendary story, we still follow D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) and the three Musketeers Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Aramis (Luke Evans), and Porthos (Ray Stevenson) as they battle their enemies.  They tangle with the evil Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz), the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom), and Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich).  The gist this time is that the trio is no longer big shots but down on their luck…has beens essentially.  They must fight to save the bad guys from seizing the throne (yawn) and taking the continent to war.  It’s standard order stuff for this type of tale, but sadly the changes don’t help things at all and overall it’s just not done very well.  Of course, it sets itself up for a sequel, and likely a trilogy.  No surprises there…

The acting is nothing at all to write home about.  No one descends into awfulness or camp, so you’re left with just a heaping load of averageness.  Lerman has yet to really impress me as an actor, and that doesn’t change here.  The same goes for Evans and Stevenson.  Macfadyen has a bit more life to his acting than most, but not enough to matter.  Jovovich has surprised me on occasions, but this isn’t one of those times.  When directed by her husband, she ironically seems to do her worst work.  Christoph Waltz and Orlando Bloom are fine as villains, but I’d like to see Waltz do a bit more with his post-Oscar career than this.  Honestly, he was better in ‘The Green Hornet’.  As for the rest of the cast, we have Til Schweiger, Mads Mikkelsen, Gabriella Wilde, and Juno Temple (among others), but no one leaves any impression at all.

Paul W.S. Anderson is only a shade above a hack as a director, and here he has plenty of bombast and camp, but no reason to be making this particular flick.  Aside from perhaps ‘Event Horizon’, he’s been at best mediocre (‘Resident Evil: Afterlife’), and at worst atrocious (AVP: Alien vs. Predator).  Here, he’s pretty much right in the middle.  There’s a few occasions where a little life is breathed into the proceedings, but mostly he seems to be just going through the motions.  All of the energy seems to be false and manipulative.  The script by Andrew Davies and Alex Litvak (loosely, and I mean loosely based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas) is a bastion of pointlessness.  They have no interest in the source material, and they manage to even mess up the catchphrase we all know and love from the trio.  There’s no soul here, and it sucks away all of the fun the flick could have potentially had.

Too much of a throwaway film to be truly bad, ‘The Three Musketeers’ is perfectly content to be one of the more pointless remakes in recent memory.  It doesn’t serve any purpose except to make one more interested in seeking out other versions of this story.  I really have nothing to offer besides a sincere advocation that you look elsewhere for entertainment.  You’re just not going to find it here.  The candy bar of the same name has more stimulation to it than this.

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