The Three Musketeers2011-10-26
by Richard von Busack
The emmerded book in question is particularly resistant to stupid adaptations, and adding steampunk and caped superhero vibes to this mess isn't where it goes wrong. Compared to some, Ray Stevenson isn’t a bad Porthos; Depardieu, taking the role in later years in the on-again, off-again Man in the Iron Mask, had a bracing way of dealing with authority: "I am Porthos, and I defy the King," but even he played it a little like a Shetland pony in heat. Stevenson is an underrated muscleman, and as always, he looks like a man who likes a fight a little too much). Director Paul W. S. Anderson is surrounded by excellent costumes, sets and production design, though noting all this is like complimenting a hunchback on her pretty hair.
The fight scenes in The Three Musketeers are the usual as in every perishing one of Anderson’s previous Resident Evil films. His muse Milla Jovovich, who spends the most of the movie in gilded outfits, giving coyness a bad name, spins in the air a lot. She does her trademark slow-mo somersault, and then voila, the sudden arrival of a ninja frogman with multi-barreled crossbows…however the rest of the film isn’t given ADD editing; rather it basks in the 3D artificial Paris and the fine Central European sets.
Just when you're starting to succumb to the bones of the plot—D'Artagnan (Logan Lerman) arriving in Paris, and challenging three separate strangers to a duel, for instance—someone says something. The absolutely stinking script seems like a contest between cynical writers trying to lowball each other; they want to get into Mel Brooks terrain with James Corden as the pudgy comic relief who gets shat on by pigeons. The sincere moments are the worst: D’Artagnan’s father advises his son: “Make mistakes. Fight. Love life.”’ Christopher Waltz’ Richelieu is already firmly in charge of France but he feels he most provoke a war (why?), so he encourages his followers: “Evil is just a point of view.”
As for Lerman, he's a calamity—you have to go back through 60 years of action film male ingénues to match him, to Kerwin Matthews maybe. Among the younger women, Juno Temple (playing the Queen) puts up some very stiff resistance before surrendering in the face of lines like “Boys will be boys.”