Over the years there have been countless adaptations of the Alexandre Dumas novel, The Three Musketeers. Many of these have been unnecessary exercises in pop entertainment using a variety of angles to try and freshen it up. The one that always sticks in my mind is 2001's The Musketeer starring Justin Chambers and directed by Peter Hyams. It is notable for the use of martial arts inspired fights, choreographed by Xin Xin Xiong. Now we have yet another take on the tale with Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson and the Olympians) playing the central role. This version arrived in theaters with the bonus of 3D, with it's Blu-ray release, does it hold up with the absence of the 3D gimmick? That probably depends on how you feel about it in the first place.
Directed by Paul W. S. Anderson, this adaptation is a loose one that circumvents actual story telling by throwing as much flash at the screen as the budget will allow. To say this is a silly adaptation would be an understatement. This movie is absolutely ridiculous. The dialogue is silly, the action defies physics, and it takes things completely over the top. It is a mashup of Resident Evil's action, Hayao Miyazaki steam punk inspired airships (see Howl's Moving Castle), and Marie Antoinette-esque candy colored outfits and sets.
The story is familiar, simplified, and dumbed down for the popcorn-eating crowd. We follow young D'artagnon as he travels to Paris and meets up with the down on their luck Musketeers, Athos (Matthew Macfayden), Aramis (Luke Evans), and Porthos (Ray Stevensen). After their requisite adversarial initial encounter and their subsequent joining of forces, they find themselves embroiled in a plot by the dastardly Cardinal Richelieu (Cristoph Waltz) and double agent Milady (Milla Jovovich) to wrest control of the country from the foppish King Louis XIII (Freddie Fox) and his wife, Queen Anne (Juno Temple).
The Three Musketeers, as presented here, is not one to be taken seriously. The story is not meant to be subtle, nor is it meant to be dwelled upon. The plot is merely there to act like a clothesline on which to hang to big action sequences. Fortunately, this is where Anderson excels. He may be a popular whipping boy among online communities, but I am not one of them. He is far from the best filmmaker out there, but he certainly knows his strengths. He knows how to use the big screen to his advantage, giving a great sense of space and location, staging action and set pieces that genuinely exciting. It does not hurt that he seems to be a natural at using 3D technology (his two 3D features, this and Resident Evil: Afterlife, look quite good in the format).