“The Three Musketeers” is the latest in the recent line of big budget Victorian-era action movies popularized by the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise. The trend then led to the popular “Sherlock Holmes” in 2009, which has a sequel out later this year. Neither “Sherlock Holmes” nor the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies were great movies, but they had some fairly enjoyable moments.
“The Three Musketeers” does not continue that trend, and I mean that in a bad way.
The film is a modern adaptation of Alexander Dumas’ classic novel. Modern basically means it adds a lot more slow motion fighting and flying boats. The movie follows the three musketeers, Athos (Matthew McFayden), Porthos (Ray Stevenson) and Aramis (Luke Evans) plus the hopeful musketeer D’Artagnon (Logan Lerman) as they try to make sure Europe is safe against a handful of bad people played by Christoph Waltz, Orlando Bloom and Milla Jovovich, all of whom wear colorful and silly clothes that get made fun of in only one of the many anachronisms in the film.
One of the few aspects of both “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Sherlock Holmes” that made them watchable were the infectious lead performances by Johnny Depp and Robert Downey Jr. “The Three Musketeers” has no such witty lead performance. None of the actors who play the musketeers display much enthusiasm at all. The script doesn’t help things much either with its cringe-inducing excuse for witty banter.
Orlando Bloom does at least try to have some fun by playing his villain character so over the top that he could only be going for an “it’s-so-bad-it’s-good” performance, but instead it just ends up being one of those “it’s-so-bad-it’s-really-bad” performances.
“Resident Evil” director Paul W.S. Anderson directed the movie and that should give you a pretty good hint at how the action is staged. The action scenes are big, loud and filled with Milla Jovovich doing things in slow motion. They’re also very dull.
The climactic action scene is supposed to be exciting, but it’s just a big bore. Yes, there are cool explosions and sword fighting, but there’s no reason for the audience to get excited about what’s happening in the scene.
If I made you sit down and watch a ten-minute long Youtube video of a group of random people sword fighting, you will probably watch the first couple of minutes out of curiosity but get pretty bored after that. If the people in that video were your friends and you knew why this fight was happening, you would likely watch the whole video. This is because you know the people in that fight, and you know the stakes involved.
None of the characters in “The Three Musketeers” are fleshed out in any way, so the consequences of the battle are generic and thus dull. Unless this is the first movie you’ve ever seen, there is nothing here you haven’t seen before.
When it’s all said and done, “The Three Musketeers” is not a movie that I despise. Instead, it’s a film that is so devoid of any substance that I can’t help but feel indifferent to it all. If this movie had some ambition, chances are I may still have disliked it, but at least it would be better worth my times. Sometimes apathy is worse than hate.