Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Three Musketeers (3D)


Recently I've stopped reading other film reviews before I watch a film myself, for the simple reason that I don't want my opinion being influenced by some geeky middle-aged man living in a New York apartment. And whilst I mostly still appreciate their professional opinions afterwards, I don't always seem to agree with the general critical consensus of certain films.

The latest cinematic rendition of The Three Musketeers is a clear example of my critical rebellion. Paul W.S. Anderson's (Resident Evil, Event Horizon, Mortal Kombat) version of these French freedom fighters' inspiring legend has been criticized for being uninteresting and bland, but I beg to differ. 

The first thing that stands out to me is the film's breathtaking beauty as it paints a gorgous historic canvas, smothered in generous dollops of bright colours that seem to jump out of the screen. Set pieces are painstakingly detailed and gloriously over the top, complemented with outragous and lavish costumes that must have made it even easier for the actors to get into character. All of this makes the adventure exceptionally easy to get in to, as you marvel at all the little touches that you get treated to. And whilst I must admit that I don't know if much of the story is historically correct, it just doesn't matter in the greater scheme of this modern cinematic adventure.

"...it paints a gorgous historic canvas, smothered in generous dollops of bright colours that seem to jump out of the screen."

A formiddable cast of unknowns and a few blockbuster heavyweights duke it out in The Three Musketeers.  There are some great villains in the form of Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil, The Fourth Kind), Christopher Waltz (Water for Elephants, Inglorious Basters) and even Orlando Bloom (Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings, Troy) . Waltz is as great as ever and Mila serves up the film's sexiest and most impressive action sequences.

On the other end of the spectrum are the musketeers themselves, played by a group of relatively unknown, but quite capable actors. Of these Matthew MacFadyen ( Death at a Funeral, Pride and Prejudice) is by far the standout. The fourth musketeer, played by Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson, Gamer, Riding in card with boys) is however the most noticable and his presence alone makes the film much more accessible to a younger audience. And the best part it, he plays his role really well, as a hard-assed, but honourable fellow musketeer.

The king, played by Freddie Fox is however definitely my personal favourite as he manages to steal the limelight from the musketeers with his great knack for awkard comedy and surprisingly involved character development. To be honest, the movie is quite light and funny in general, even though there is a serious thread that binds all of the film's characters and their independent stories. Whilst some might argue the movie is too playful, I do feel it works in its favour.

"...the movie is quite light and funny in general, even though there is a serious thread that binds all of the film's characters and their independent stories."

On the flipside, I have to admit that the action aspect of the film is a bit lacking, with them being few in number and a bit dissapointing in terms of spectacle.Yes, this is a bit of a dissapointment, but the film has much more going for it. I did also feel that the action sequences benfitted from the minimalistic use of 3D, something I can't say about many action adventure films.

All in all, I really enjoyed The Three Musketeers: It's got lots of style, quirky dialogue, interesting characters and is a real visual pleasure. I think the problem comes in when people expect the film to be all about swashbuckling action (more of a Pirates of the Carribean appraoch), due to misleading promotional material that attempts to make the film seem more accessible than it truly is. Nevertheless, I'm quite sure even the most hardcore action fans will appreciate the film's slightly off-beat approach to the genre and seeing it on the big screen is a must!

Logan is surprisingly good...

Highlight: Most scenes that include the young king, but if I had to single out one, I would have to settle for his discussion with the youngest musketeer about the delicate matter of charming the fairer race.