There have been many adaptations of Alexandre Dumas’ classic The Three Musketeers, to varying degrees of success. The latest in a long line of interpretations is in completely unnecessary 3D, from action schlock director Paul W.S. Anderson (Resident Evil franchise, Alien vs. Predator, Death Race).
The titular Three Musketeers – Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Aramis (Luke Evans) and Porthos (Ray Stevenson) – are joined by wannabe Musketeer D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) to stop the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom) and his assassin double-agent Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich) from bringing war on Europe, while dealing with “the most feared swordsman in Europe” Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen) and Cardinal Richelieu (a wasted Christoph Waltz), who has plans of his own.
With such great source material to work with it’s pretty unbelievable how much this particular adaptation squanders it. The main problem with the film is that it tries too hard to be too many different things at once: a swashbuckling action-adventure movie (unsuccessfully ripping off the popular Pirates of the Caribbean franchise), a romance, a witty comedy, and there’s even hints of a “pride of war” type film involving honour and the cause (or lack thereof) that the eponymous characters have to fight for. In trying to be all of these things it fails to properly be any of them: a jack of all trades and a master of none, as they say.
The film would work somewhat, on a basic level, if it at least offered some genuinely funny visual gags and one-liners or any semblance of entertaining action but it doesn’t. It feels like a cheap knock-off of similar films of the past (again, the similarity to Pirates of the Caribbean in the tone it’s going for is so strong you’d think when looking at certain sequences that they were lifted straight out of Disney’s franchise), with repetitive action which there is a hell of a lot of but which ultimately adds up to nothing. The plot might not be as convoluted the Pirates franchise, but it still way over complicates things, leading to confusion as to who’s done what and why. And the incessant one-liners spouted by just about everyone that gets any sort of screen-time are cringe-inducing, pulling you out of the movie at every turn.
The Three Musketeers in 3D (the third dimension just adds insult to injury) is by all accounts not as atrociously bad as it very well could have been. But saying that is like saying that this particular trip to the dentist wasn’t as bad as you’ve experienced in the past – but it was still uncomfortable, painful, and made you feel like you didn’t want to be there. Somehow both ridiculous (airships, anyone?) and boring, with only a couple of moments here and there to make up for the rest (mainly involving an extended cameo by Brit comedian James Corden) of this irritating film. Blockbuster fans deserve better than this.