Every now and again, a movie comes along that is just bad. There is nothing great about it, so by default it drifts into a limbo of mediocrity that is more infuriating than entertaining.
Paul W.S. Anderson’s “The Three Musketeers” is that movie at the moment. While some of the movie is beautifully rendered, most of it is a mediocre kind of campy about which most of the actors didn’t get the memo.
The movie opens by telling you everything you need to know so it can get to the action as soon as possible. The problem is, the action is just okay – and typically excessive.
The musketeers – Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Porthos (Ray Stevenson) and Aramis (Luke Evans) – and their apprentice D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) dole out a lot of hurt in the movie in a format that is very uncool. A unflatteringly selective and slightly slow motion is used to demolish armies. Soldier after soldier is ripped through by sword, gun and shillelagh in a way that works as a tool drag the scenes out, not fully portraying the number of people being slaughtered and not highlighting the awesomeness of taking out soldiers with a shillelagh.
Not only do these musketeers fight wave upon wave of soldiers, they typically kill them, and not just armies, but pretty much anyone with whom they have a problem. After he travels to Paris to become a musketeer, D’artagnan incites four fights with the intent to kill his opponents because someone insulted his horse. His companions feel the same. They slaughter anyone who comes at them with a sword without batting an eye, partly because they are static characters and partly because their obvious wigs may fall off.
Due to the mass deaths and settings – pre-revolution France and flying sail ships – the scenes become cluttered, messy and uninviting.
And that’s how the whole movie works. Like the fight scenes, it’s over-complicated, crowded and unemotional.
In addition to being an action movie, it is also a teenage romance. The strapping young D’artagnan is smitten with Queen Anne of France’s lady-in-waiting, Constance (Gabriella Wilde). Just like any half-baked romantic comedy, even though the king and would-be musketeer have different backgrounds, they reach a mutual understanding that in order to get the girl, they have to be truthful and “themselves.”
In addition to being a teenage romance, it’s also a story about brotherhood. In addition to that, it’s a history lesson, and in addition to that, it’s a series-builder – the ending holding obvious foreshadowing to another film. What holds it all together is the consistent acting of each person involved.
Again, the acting isn’t bad; it’s frustratingly mediocre. This being an implied introduction movie, the characters are extremely static – except for the men involved in the romantic comedy – which supposedly lends itself to the actors. As if stiff caricatures rose from the pages of the screenplay to act out their roles, most characters are handled with a one-sided, limited-emotion treatment that is laughable and occasionally aggravating.
Milla Jovovich, who plays the incorrigible Milady de Winter, and Orlando Bloom, a malevolent Duke of Buckingham, are in on the joke. While everything about Bloom’s performance – costume, hairstyle, speech and acting – scream camp, Jovovich is more subtle. Jovovich, who is accustomed to being an action star, takes this role for what it is: the chance to play a vixen and the chance to play a B-rate bitch.
Her style is flawless as she laughs with comedic timing, changes face at the drop of a dime and speaks in a mock-Elizabethan accent at which you can’t help but chuckle.
She is the real star of the movie because she is the only one who sees it for what it is: a marketing ploy trying to cover so many bases that it fails to do one thing well, throwing dollar store suction cups to the wall and hoping that one sticks so they can make that sequel set up by the film.
1.5 / 4 STARS