The Three Musketeers

2 11 2011

It’s been a while since the last Three Musketeers movie. If you’re unfamiliar with the source material, a trio of French swordsmen use their wits and fighting prowess to defeat their enemies.  Along the way, they attract beautiful women, like Milady (Milla Jovovich), and young copycats, like D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman).

These characters have been adapted into several films over the years. In this latest adaptation, fun, happy-go-lucky action takes the stage. However, instead of a thoughtful plot and clever action sequences, The Three Musketeers stumbles from one silly set piece to the next, and ends up feeling like one bad joke that went on for too long.

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The plot is mostly forgettable. It contains elements that you might find in any average action movie, like double agents, diamond thieves, and evil villains who talk with funny accents. You may not always be able to follow what’s going on, but thankfully, the plot isn’t the real heart of the movie.

Instead, the focus is squarely on ridiculous action. Featuring crazy contraptions like armored airships, the movie jumps from one special effects-laden shot to the next so frequently that it’s difficult to keep track of what the point of all this action is.

In general, these sequences look very cool, and feature some stunning technical wizardry. However, the green screen effect – where the actors are obviously standing against a computer generated backdrop – was a little too easy to spot in some scenes.

And, since the movie has a PG rating, the swordplay is innocent and the violence is stylized. There is nary a drop of blood to be seen, and it ends up having a Pirates of the Caribbean feel (and not just because Orlando Bloom is in it.)

Much like that classic movie, every scene is injected with a unique sense of style and humor, and it’s clear that the director, Paul Anderson, put a lot of work into finding the right fit for the outlandish plot and characters.

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King Louis XIII, the teenaged ruler of France, is particularly entertaining to watch. In an effort to compete with the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom), he dresses in ridiculous clothing, like a purple, flowery pointed hat, which he genuinely believes is in fashion at the time. Ultimately, moments like this give the impression that The Three Musketeers never takes itself too seriously.

With all its crazy action and over-the-top characters, The Three Musketeers works best as a kid’s action movie, and offers limited entertainment outside of that. The few highlights – like entertaining swordfights and colorful sets – are drowned out by the bland plot and predictable action sequences.

I wanted a movie like Pirates of the Caribbean. Unfortunately, The Three Musketeers is not nearly as witty, entertaining, or ambitious as that classic. While the special effects are entertaining, this movie is all glitz and no substance.

2 stars out of 5