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The Three Musketeers (Blu-ray + DVD)
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Did we really need another big-screen version of The Three Musketeers? There have been six or seven versions of Alexandre Dumas's classic tale of swashbuckling intrigue and sword-fighting heroism in 17th-century France since the birth of motion pictures, so the question of need really doesn't really enter into it. This whiz-banging update is designed for a new generation of 21st-century entertainment seekers, and it comes complete with the kind of over-the-top CGI effects, novel 3D tricks, and ramped-up action that consumers of a franchise like Pirates of the Caribbean have come to expect. In fact, it's no secret that the American, German, French, and British producers were expecting to launch their own Pirates-like series for a long string of Musketeer movies that might inspire the same kind of dedicated followers, not to mention profits. But this exciting and well-intentioned new brand of Musketeer mayhem probably won't leave viewers hungry for another dose--or two, or three, or four.
The helmer is Paul W.S. Anderson, the same director responsible for the Resident Evil series as well as dark, violent sci-fi entries like Mortal Kombat, AVP, and Death Race. He brings a similar heavy hand to the action sequences, many of which are quite spectacular, especially a truly grand finale staged aboard dueling tricked-out airships ostensibly designed by Leonardo da Vinci. He also brings a light touch to the comedic elements that often cross over into battle territory, although not as many of the gags fly as high as the raucous and cleverly staged action. The story follows Dumas's original tale when convenient and leaps awkwardly into flights of somewhat misplaced fancy when it can't make the familiar version of the musketeers' rebellious escapades fit into its narrative needs. The adventure-seeking peasant D'Artagnan (Logan Lerman) makes his way to Paris hoping to join the musketeers, the special squadron sworn to protect the vaguely stooge-like king of France (Freddie Fox). In short order he has met and made a bad first impression on the three most notorious musketeers, Athos (Matthew MacFadyen), Porthos (Ray Stevenson), and Aramis (Luke Evans). These are our heroes, and their performances run the range from fair to pretty good. That is admittedly faint praise, but fortunately there are an equal number of villains to balance out the gamut of hammy scenery-chewing. There's Orlando Bloom as the mustache-twirling Lord Buckingham; Milla Jovovich as Milady, a backstabbing seductress who has as much kick as she does in her role as queen of the Resident Evil team; and Mads Mikkelsen in a return to terrorising mode as a one-eyed, soulless heavy in the employ of the church. Topping them all is Christoph Waltz, who brings to his Cardinal Richelieu the same kind of menacing charm that made Colonel Hans Landa so deliciously hiss-inducing in Inglorious Basterds. What makes this restructured Musketeers feel a little off is the contemporary vernacular peppered throughout the dialogue. It's clearly targeted to a teen and young-adult audience in the hopes that they will want more of this mix (think Pirates again). The story is skewed young, with Logan Lerman and Gabriella Wilde as a lady-in-waiting getting more plot time than they can handle in their professional capacity as actors. But there are abundant subplots and everybody gets one, the costumes are spectacular, and the sets ooze lavish detail. The 3D is fairly lackluster, so home-market viewers really won't be missing anything on that front. What they'll get most of is a breezy, stunt-studded, action-packed, and affably affected take on a literary chestnut that, by the way, is also sequel-ready. --Ted Fry --This text refers to an alternate Blu-ray edition.
Top customer reviews
Visually it's a very nice film with some beautiful sets, fantastic costumes and fast paced action with good attention to detail and some quirky and interesting creative direction. Like a slightly surreal and grown up pantomime. There's a nice mix of action, comedy and silly romance all played out to the best that anyone could probably manage in this type of film but I think Milla Jovovich did a great job on a slightly new take of Milady de Winter and the young Logan Lehrman gave a good performance as a stupid, spunky, cocky D'Artagnan who gets it all wrong but comes good in the end. Christoph Waltz was easy to despise as the main villain but the Muskateers themselves felt like filler a lot of the time and even Luke Evans didn't really bring much to the table. For what it is though, it's a fun, stupid movie that you can switch off to and take in the visuals while you enjoy the ride without too much bother or too many questions.
With such bizarre imagery as a floating navy and bizarre casting such as Orlando Bloom as the villainous Duke of Buckingham, `The Three Musketeers' is not to be taken seriously at all. With this in mind it actually becomes one of Anderson's better films, but when this list includes the increasingly awful `Resident Evil' films, this is faint praise indeed. The likes of Mads Mikkelsen as Rochefort and Ray Stevenson as Porthos do a decent job in making the film fun, balancing the right level of campness with a smidge of historically accuracy. The film is stolen from under the noses of the better known cast by Freddie Fox as Louis XIII, his amusing take on Royalty adds much needed laughs to the film and highlights the blandness of Logan Lerman as D'Artagnan.
The move from 3D to BluRay, has been slightly unkind to the film. Anderson obviously invested a great deal in making the 3D stand out, now it all looks a little awkward in 2D as objects poke at the screen for no reason. With lots of swashbuckling and gun powder, `Musketeers' is a daft yet fun film. It moves all over the place and the story is little more than an excuse to set up a load of set pieces. Whilst it was on the time flew by, but it was also instantly forgettable.
The HD transfer is a good one and the film does pop. Unfortunately, the BluRay also highlights some of the awkward former 3D moments. There are some extras on the disc, but they are mostly bland behind the scenes featurettes that can be ignored.
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