×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Three Musketeers

A very 2011 take on Alexandre Dumas' classic that feels weirdly dated already.

With:
Athos - Matthew Macfadyen
Milady de Winter - Milla Jovovich
D'Artagnan - Logan Lerman
Aramis - Luke Evans
Porthos - Ray Stevenson
Constance - Gabriella Wilde
Duke of Buckingham - Orlando Bloom
Rochefort - Mads Mikkelsen
Richelieu - Christoph Waltz
Louis - Freddie Fox
Queen - Juno Temple
Planchet - James Corden
Cagliostro - Til Schweiger
D'Artagnan's Father - Dexter Fletcher
D'Artagnan's Mother - Jane Perry

With its airborne CGI galleons, 3D format and an armed Milady who hides rappelling equipment beneath her corset, helmer Paul W. S. Anderson’s version of “The Three Musketeers” is a very 2011 take on Alexandre Dumas’ classic that feels weirdly dated already. Although adequately entertaining thanks to lavish production values and game supporting perfs, this anodyne adaptation lacks a killer hook that would help it cross over to a demographic beyond action buffs and fanboys. Canny calendar positioning should help Summit’s October release Stateside, but the pic will swash more buckle overseas, where the title has more cachet. Already open in Germany, “Musketeers” screens Sept. 23 at the San Sebastian Film Festival.

Not too long ago, it looked as though this American-German-French-British co-production would be one of two new 3D adaptations of “Three Musketeers” this year, alongside Warner Bros.’ Doug Liman-helmed version. Whatever the reasons that project was put on hold, one can’t help but wonder if there might have been well-founded doubts about how well Dumas’ 17th century-set tale of chivalry, camaraderie and courtly intrigue could be remixed for contempo auds without diluting it beyond all recognition.

Indeed, the script here struggles to find a balance between the sensibilities of Alex Litvak, best known for writing “Grayskull” and “Predators,” and Andrew Davies, who built his rep on tony literary adaptations for British TV such as “Pride and Prejudice” (1995) and “Little Dorrit” (2008). End product lacks Davies’ signature verbal sparkle Davies, but also sags in the middle, the way a mainstream action film shouldn’t, when it bogs down in all the business about the Queen’s purloined necklace (ironically, the bit closest to Dumas’ novel).

The opening sequence offers a typical example of how far beyond Dumas the filmmakers are willing to go, as the Musketeers, soldiers in the employ of France’s King Louis (Freddie Fox), are introduced on a secret mission to Venice to snatch plans drawn up by Leonardo Da Vinci for an airship. Joining leader Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), enigmatic ex-priest Aramis (Luke Evans) and jovial muscleman Porthos (Ray Stevenson) on this quest is none other than Milady de Winter herself (Milla Jovovich, Anderson’s regular muse), not just a pretty face and a cunning mind, but also a dab hand with a sword and a roundhouse kick.

Unfortunately, Milady betrays them, as she’s secretly in cahoots with Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz, good but somewhat lazily cast as yet another smooth villain). This leaves Athos particularly embittered by the time young, idealistic, Justin Bieber-haired upstart D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) arrives in Paris sometime later from the sticks, keen to become a Musketeer himself.

Richard Lester’s “Three Musketeers” (1973) and “Four Musketeers” (1974) made their own significant departures from the books, as nearly every film version has, but they had a bawdy streak that’s notably lacking in this very teen-skewed PG-13 incarnation. Louis, for example, is a moon-faced kid basically suffering from a crush on his own wife (Juno Temple, a delight as usual), while D’Artagnan gives him brotherly dating advice. Orlando Bloom plays the Duke of Buckingham like a rival jock from another school, sneering over Louis’ out-of-fashion duds. For an action film, there’s an awful lot of foppish discussion about clothes going on.

But what glorious clothes they are. Pierre-Yves Gayraud’s exquisitely detailed outfits steal scene after scene, in particular the women’s gowns, all intricate silk brocades shot through with metallic threads and glinting like jewels. Glen MacPherson’s digital lensing has been balanced in post in such a way to let the electric blues on the king’s guards’ uniforms pop just a bit more intensely, especially in the many bright, sunlit rooms (a mix of Bavarian locations and sets at Berlin’s Studio Babelsberg) deployed for the palace scenes.

The use of 3D rather limits the fluidity of the action sequences, which ought to be Anderson’s strong suit, but it does nothing but favors for Paul Denham Austerberry’s rococo production design.

The Three Musketeers

U.S.-Germany-France-U.K.

Production: A Summit Entertainment (in U.S.) release of a Summit Entertainment, Constantin Film presentation of a Constantin Film, Impact Pictures production in co-production with Nef Prods., New Legacy Film, Studio Babelsberg, with the support of Deutscher Filmfoerderfonds, Filmfernsehfonds Bayern, Bayerischer Bankenfonds, Filmfoerderungsanstalt, Medienboard Berlin Brandenburg. (International sales: Summit Entertainment, Santa Monica.) Produced by Jeremy Bolt, Paul W. S. Anderson, Robert Kulzer. Executive producer, Martin Moszkowicz, Christine Rothe. Co-producers, Manuel Malle, Rory Gilmartin, Charlie Woebcken, Christoph Fisser. Directed by Paul W. S. Anderson. Screenplay, Alex Litvak, Andrew Davies, based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen, HD, 3D), Glen MacPherson; editor, Alexander Berner; music, Paul Haslinger; music supervisors, Christoph Becker, Pia Hofmann; production designer, Paul Denham Austerberry; supervising art director, Nigel Churcher, art directors, David Scheunemann, Hucky Hornberger; set decorator, Philippe Turlure; costume designer, Pierre-Yves Gayraud; sound (Dolby Digital), Roland Winke; supervising sound editor, Stefan Busch; re-recording mixers, Michael Kranz, Andrew Stirk; special effects supervisor, Gerd Feuchter; special effects, Die Nefzers; visual effects supervisor, Bennis Berardi; visual effects, Mr. X; fight choreographer, Nick Powell; stunt coordinators, Powell, Volkhart Buff; stereographer, John Harper; line producer, Silvia Tollman; assistant director, Jamie Christopher; second unit director, Nick Powell; second unit camera, Vern Nobles; casting, Suzanne M. Smith. Reviewed at Odeon West End, London, Sept. 21, 2011. (In San Sebastian Film Festival -- Velodrome.) MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 110 MIN.

With: Athos - Matthew Macfadyen
Milady de Winter - Milla Jovovich
D'Artagnan - Logan Lerman
Aramis - Luke Evans
Porthos - Ray Stevenson
Constance - Gabriella Wilde
Duke of Buckingham - Orlando Bloom
Rochefort - Mads Mikkelsen
Richelieu - Christoph Waltz
Louis - Freddie Fox
Queen - Juno Temple
Planchet - James Corden
Cagliostro - Til Schweiger
D'Artagnan's Father - Dexter Fletcher
D'Artagnan's Mother - Jane Perry(English dialogue)

More Film

  • A still from Sea of Shadows

    Sundance Film Review: 'Sea of Shadows'

    It’s a decidedly grim circle of life that moves us all in “Sea of Shadows,” a tight, troubling documentary eco-thriller that charts a compelling course of consequence from Chinese black-market apothecaries to the near-extinction of a rare whale in the Sea of Cortez, hitting on Mexican crime cartels and institutional corruption along the way. Austrian [...]

  • Matt Smith, Thomasin McKenzie Circle Edgar

    Matt Smith, 'Leave No Trace' Star Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie Circle Edgar Wright Movie

    Matt Smith and “Leave No Trace” star Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie are in negotiations to join Edgar Wright’s next film, “Last Night in Soho,” sources tell Variety. Details are vague about the psychological horror movie, other than it being set in London’s Soho district. Anya Taylor Joy is also in the cast. Production is expected to [...]

  • Vice Media

    Vice Media Taps Joe Simon as Chief Technology Officer (EXCLUSIVE)

    Joe Simon has been tapped as chief technology officer at Vice Media. The newly created role will include oversight of data analytics, engineering, information technology, media operations, media technology, post production, and systems management. Prior to Vice, Simon spent three years as Encompass Digital Media’s chief operating officer. Previously he held the chief technology officer [...]

  • Michael B Jordan denzel washington

    Michael B. Jordan to Star in Denzel Washington's 'Journal for Jordan'

    Michael B. Jordan is in talks to star in Sony’s “Journal for Jordan,” a drama that will be directed by Denzel Washington. The movie, penned by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Virgil Williams, is based on the true story of Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Dana Canedy’s love affair with First Sergeant Charles Monroe King. King kept a journal [...]

  • Sylvester Stallone

    Sylvester Stallone's Superhero Drama 'Samaritan' Lands at MGM

    MGM is developing the superhero drama “Samaritan” with Sylvester Stallone attached to star and produce through his Balboa Productions. The studio has acquired Bragi F. Schut’s script, which centers on a boy learning that a missing superhero, who vanished 20 years earlier after a battle, may still be alive. MGM will develop “Samaritan” with Stallone [...]

  • Kendrick Lamar

    Oscars: Kendrick Lamar and SZA Will Not Perform 'Black Panther' Song (EXCLUSIVE)

    Despite the Academy’s efforts to secure Kendrick Lamar and SZA for a performance of the Oscar-nominated song “All the Stars” from “Black Panther” on the upcoming Oscars telecast, the duo will not be a part of the show, Variety has learned. The reason, according to a source close to the situation, is logistics and timing. [...]

  • Oscars Spa Treatments

    Area Spas Offer Red Carpet Treatments in Time for Oscars

    From a shopping session with a celebrity stylist to a covert airport pickup, these hotels and spas are offering even more curated packages for the ultimate VIP Oscar experience. For the Jetsetter Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills’ Doheny Suite Experience package allows travelers to evade the paparazzi with an underground or curbside [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content