Throwback Thursday: The Three Musketeers (2011)

films, reviews, TBT

215px-thethreemusketeers2011poster5_star_rating_system_1_and_a_half_stars So it had taken me a month between posting my first review to posting the next. Apparently, in order to make up for the deficit, I posted two film reviews on one day. I don’t know what it was about the 25th October 2011 but clearly I was feeling quite motivated that day. Right after I uploaded my review of Fantastic Mr Fox, I also posted a review of that year’s The Three Musketeers remake. I vividly remember going to see that film with some friends because I almost got into an argument with one of them on the way home. I had criticised the film for being bad whilst she tried to give it a positive spin. I had no time for her suggestion that it didn’t matter how good it was if it was fun. Especially as, years later, she took the opposite stance by proclaiming Now You See Me was utterly terrible because it was too stupid. But, we know how bitter and petty I am so let’s leave that for another time. Back to the film in hand. I can’t say I was desperate to see this film but went along to try it out. It turned out to be such a mistake that I couldn’t wait to rant about it online. I would have been happy to never watch this film again but, at the same time, was interested to see if I’d mellowed over the years. After all, I’ve watched some absolutely shocking films last year. Surely, my bar has moved a little lower?

My first review of this film was hardly glowing. I wasn’t really on board with Paul W.S. Anderson’s steampunk update of Alexandre Dumas’ classic story of political treachery, romance, and patriotism. All of the key elements are there, the infamous three musketeers Athos, Porthos and Aramis (played by Matthew MacFadyen, Ray Stevenson, and Luke Evans) take young D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) under their wing. In order to prevent France declaring war on Britain, the four men must stop a plot masterminded by the evil Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz). Unfortunately, they find themselves fighting against pretty much everyone in their path. It becomes a tense race against time to protect the honour of their Queen and prevent their King making a huge mistake.

Although, it’s not quite as simple as that because everything has gone incredibly batshit and steampunk. We are introduced to air ships in order to have a nonsensical battle in the clouds. It’s not something that I was particularly convinced by the first time and, on second viewing, it has become even more obvious that this was just to cover up the lack of depth within the story. The film just has nothing to it so has been filled with over-the-top action sequences to distract the viewer. Something that I probably would have been in favour of have the action sequences been any good. As it stands, they’re laughably bad. There is an overuse of slow motion which only highlights the terrible direction and choreography at work. I cringed during most of the sword fights. We’re meant to be watching expert swordsmen showing off their skills but it’s painfully obvious that we’re just watching actors pretending.

We know from Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes films that it is possible to do a decent enough job of modernising a classic adaptation. Ritchie managed to turn Sherlock Holmes into the kind of man you’d normally find in the East End gangster film the director made his name creating and, for the most part, it worked really well. With The Three Musketeers, Anderson tried to turn The Three Musketeers into a video game inspired action movie. It doesn’t work because the plot is so intricate and serious that it doesn’t lend itself to that kind of treatment. The focus is on the visuals instead of the story so nothing really happens. Or at least, a lot of things happen but it kind of feels like it’s happening for no reason.

This is a film about fighting and treason. It should be an exciting and captivating story. It also features some amazing acting talent. What we get is an underwhelming, sloppy, badly scripted, and boring movie. I still find it absurd that someone I really like could possibly try to defend it. There is no defence for this shit.

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