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The Three Musketeers


All for one, and all that jazz.

Rod Lott March 12th, 2012

All these centuries, who knew Alexandre Dumas' most famous novel needed ninjas? At least I think that's what you could call the hooded warrior who emerges from the water with weapon at the ready at the opening of The Three Musketeers, Hollywood's latest in a long line of adaptations of the 1884 classic, this ship steered with a steampunk touch by Paul W.S. Anderson, whose adventure credits include Death Race, Alien vs. Predator and Mortal Kombat.

thethreemusketeers

In this showy but spirited box-office underperformer, the title fighters of Athos (Matthew Macfadyen, Robin Hood), Aramis (Luke Evans, Immortals) and Porthos (Ray Stevenson, Thor) are double-crossed by Athos' girlfriend, Milady (Milla Jovovich, Dirty Girl and Mrs. Anderson), leaving their reputations smeared.

One year later, young D'Artagnan (Logan Lerman, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief) is counseled by his father to "fight, love, live," and pushed into adulthood. He immediately runs afoul of Roquefort (Mads Mikkelsen, Clash of the Titans), who's in cahoots with Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz, Carnage) and Milady to take over the throne of France so they can profit from war.

Not if he and the musketeers can stop them — y'know, all for one, and all that jazz.

With diorama transitions operating as nice touches, this Musketeers shines with studio glitz and pizazz that serve the story well, because Anderson doesn't forget to tell one. In the plot department, it's arguably the most lucid screenplay he's worked with yet, no doubt because someone else had thought up the outline long ago, and it's worked for the ensuring century and a quarter.

What he does is simply let modern technology loose on the 17th-century setting, with elements that recall Pirates of the Caribbean, The Da Vinci Code, National Treasure, Sherlock Holmes, his own Resident Evil franchise and The Sartorialist blog.

And then there's the 3-D, which the film carried in theaters, and does on Blu-ray, too, provided you have the right disc and player. I don't, but I also didn't miss it. Anderson's movie is lively enough in the "flat" format. He and his filmography are typically roundly and soundly derided, but I almost always find them invested with an unapologetic glee for the medium.

There's no pretension that his Musketeers movie is anything but a big-budget ball of old-school adventure fun that never comes close to taking itself seriously. Some bad male hairstyle choices aside, does anyone really think Dumas wouldn't have loved the hell out of it? —Rod Lott

 
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