All for fun in a pretty and pleasing Musketeer update
Sometimes you just need a fun, mindless romp. Director Paul W.S. Anderson (the “Resident: Evil” series) delivers that and more in his delightfully distorted interpretation of the Dumas classic which has been adapted too many times to count. And while the script is downright silly at times and the camp so pervasive its hard to know if the silliness is purposeful or accidental one thing is for sure: a good chunk of the $75 million or so budget was spent on the uncommonly lavish set design, gorgeous costumes, and art work (much of it CGI) that is clever as it is vibrant. So go ahead and crane your neck at a critic who loves a film that understands the difference between good cheese and bad cheese and put “The Three Musketeers” — version 2011–in the category of a crowd pleasing, critic snubbing swashbuckling adventure.
Finished with the training from his father and brimming with overconfidence, young D’Artagnan ( Logan Lerman) strikes out on his own and soon tangles with three rogue, down-on-their-luck Musketeers (Matthew Mcfadyen, Luke Evans, Ray Stevenson). Impressed by the young man’s fiery spirit and swordplay acumen, the group joins forces to combat the evil designs of Cardinal Richlieu (Christoph Waltz – perfectly cast as expected) and his menacing one-eyed strongman Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen) who are attempting to overthrow the foppish King Louis of France (Freddie Fox). The marvelously attired lovely ladies along for the antics include M’Lady De Winter (Milla Jovovich), Lady in Waiting Constance (Gabriella Wilde) and Queen Anne (Juno Temple).
For his part, Lerman shows potential as more than a pretty face, and holds his own alongside a talented cast of sturdy, if unknown leads. Getting Oscar winner Waltz was a coup of sorts and he adds a measure of credibility to a script that isn’t as smart as it could be, but is never boring or meandering either.
The true stars are the sumptuous, dazzling visual effects and the surprisingly gimmick-free 3D treatment. Whether it is the stunning mid-air battles between wildly impossible airships or the majestically grandiose palatial interiors, “Three Musketeers” is a marvel to look at and easy to enjoy. Say what you will about Anderson’s previous horror/science fiction films which may explain some negative critical bias towards his latest effort, but in many ways Anderson has crafted a beautiful and rambunctious film that is a lot more fun than the last few Disney “Pirates of the Caribbean” films. That is not meant as faint praise but more as a recommendation.
Rated PG-13 for adventure action violence.