Thursday, October 06, 2011

THE THREE MUSKETEERS - Fantasy Popcorn Trip

THE THREE MUSKETEERS (fantasy adventure in 3D)
Cast: Matthew MacFadyen, Milla Jovovich, Logan Lerman, Luke Evans, Ray Stevenson, Orlando Bloom, Mads Mikkelsen, Christoph Waltz and Gabriella Wilde
Director: Paul W. S. Anderson
Screenplay by Alex Litvak, Andrew Davies, based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas
Time: 110 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)

All for One and One for All - the Musketeers against the Cardinal's Guards

PREAMBLE: Two words come to mind when I was sitting through this lavish adaptation of the Three Musketeers: ostentatious and foppish. Or, to put it another way, when you take a theme park idea like Pirates Of The Caribbean and throw in all sorts of crazy stuff and stunts, it is creative; but when you take Alexandre Dumas' classic and throw in ninja divers, flying airships and Matrix-style dodging of bullets, that is nothing short of sacrilege.

In fact, I can't quite decide if this rendition by Paul W.S. Anderson is a parody, a fashion fantasy or just a noisy, messy romp.

Christoph Waltz and Milla Jovovich as the Cardinal and Milady

WHAT'S IT ABOUT: The three Musketeers and the sexy Milady DeWinter (Milla Jovovich) are introduced to the audience in a botched heist in Venice where Da Vinci's plans for a fighting airship is stolen. Then we follow the cocky D'Artagnan (Logan Lerman) as he journeys to Paris and meets Athos (Matthew MacFadyen), Porthos (Ray Stevenson) and Aramis (Luke Evans) - and the Queen's handmaid Constance (Gabriella Wilde). He arranges a duel with the three Musketeers but their brawl is interrupted by the Cardinal's Guards.

D'Artagnan and the 3Ms are then involved in a mission to recover the Queen's (Juno Temple) jewels from Buckingham (Orlando Bloom, in a role that is largely wasted) in London.

HITS & MISSES: On the plus side, the leads are nicely fleshed out especially MacFadyen's Athos whose heart is broken by the conniving Milady (pic, right). Stevenson's Porthos is pompous and a drunkard while Evans portrays Aramis as a brooding ex-clergy. Lerman's D'Artagnan may attract his female fans but his is the weakest role that is more like a pretty boy always spoiling for a fight with all and sundry. Freddie Fox fares better even as he hams his role as the childish King Louis VIII. Christoph Waltz is at his best as Cardinal Richelieu.

Also, the costumes by Pierre-Yves Gayraud are eye-poppingly gorgeous, especially those worn by Jovovich and Wilde, with added heaving bosoms. The mid-air cannon battle scenes are pretty ridiculous but the swordfight between D'Artagnan and Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen) is breath-taking. The closing scenes set the narrative hooks for the inevitable sequel.

THE LOWDOWN: A fantasy popcorn trip for the undiscerning.


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