17/10/2011

The 3D Musketeers

The new version of The Three Musketeers reviewed by John Newman

Rambunctious, playful, exciting and funny, the latest version of the trusty Alexander Dumas classic The Three Musketeers is a must see. While remaining largely faithful to the source material, the film plays with modern motifs and adds a certain steampunk ethos to proceedings. In that respect it bears roughly the same relation to its predecessors as Guy Ritchie’s updated Sherlock Holmes did and Paul WS Anderson’s film is just as enjoyable.


Official trailer:

http://youtu.be/N2IULuYDKHM

After a dynamic opening in which the Musketeers’ are depicted as if they are early espionage agents as well as master swordsmen, only for their mission to be ultimately foiled by the Duke of Buckingham and double agent Lady de Winter (or Milady as she is called) we cut to a year later. In Paris, the three are indulging in a life of drinking and brawling, their reputation and confidence shattered. The arrival of the much younger Musketeer disciple D’Artagnan is the catalyst that re-ignites their fervour and they soon find a new mission to test them.

Anderson frames and paces his movie with a contemporary flair; using the 3D to excellent effect and making familiar scenarios seem riotously fresh and new. The action pivots with the sort of reckless abandon that thrills at every turn yet never forgets the origins that make it such a great story. Plus, it’s got airships! A genius addition, this raises the stakes for the characters and viewers alike resulting in a second half that matches the build up, something that few of this year’s major action films have managed.
Stand out moments in a film packed with dazzle include the Musketeers’ fight with dozens of Rochefort’s guards in a crowded courtyard, Milady’s jewel heist at the palace, the mid air battle between the two airships and a gasp worthy sword fight between D’Artagnan and Rochefort on top of a cathedral. There are lots of brilliant, imaginative flourishes as well- the early diving suit, the trip wires arranged as if they are laser beams, the way King Louis keeps changing the colour of his outfits to match Buckingham’s choice, the hilarious way the airship comes to ground. Nothing is too daring – or silly- to be avoided and almost all of it works. Anderson’s busy cameras and some stunning set design- Richelieu’s room with large model ships is a particular stand out- really pull you into another world. There’s plenty of slow-mo, fast cuts and the like.


Of course there are those who say you shouldn’t tamper with a classic in this way, that swords are enough but don’t believe them. The script- by Alex Litvak and Brit TV stalwart Andrew Davies- is brisk and fun allowing the actors the opportunity to camp it up as much as you like. Logan Lerman makes a spirited, committed D’Artagnan, Mila Jovovich is sparkling as the duplicitous Mi Lady and playing against type Orlando Bloom makes up for having to play straight faced against Jack Sparrow by preening and pouting as the vain hissable villain Buckingham. There are great performances too from Matthew McFadden as a jaded Athos, Christoph Waltz’ wry understated Richelieu, Freddie Fox’s out of his depth King Louis and James Corden as the accident prone Planchet.

The film ends on a sequeltastic tip and we must have one. All for two!!



 

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