THE THREE MUSKETEERS:  Not At Any Price – All For None and None For All
If the last couple of Pirates of the Caribbean movies and the current Sherlock Holmes franchise had a really nasty, dirty weekend together in Atlantic City, and 9 months later one of them (I’m not saying which) gave birth, the result might be this week’s new version of THE THREE MUSKETEERS.  Paul W. S. Anderson’s overly busy shambles combines the insistent jokiness and spectacle-for-spectacle’s-sake mentality of the later Pirates chapters (in unnecessary and ineffective 3D) with the “Classic?  All we see is a sellable brand name” attitude of Holmes, and adds some of the worst acting to be seen in any recent big-budget product.  It’s not pretty.

Somewhere in the script for Musketeers, credited to Alex Litvak and Andrew Davies, the bones of the original story remain.  We still begin with D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman), who leaves his poor family in Gascony to travel to Paris, where he hopes to become a Musketeer; he still meets and antagonizes Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Porthos (Ray Stevenson) and Aramis (Luke Evans), until the four of them join together to fight the minions of the evil Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz).  There’s still a plot involving Richelieu’s plan to separate the French King (Freddie Fox) and Queen (Juno Temple) by enlisting the devious Milady (Milla Jovovich) to steal the Queen’s diamonds and make the King jealous of the English Duke of Buckingham
(Orlando Bloom).
But Dumas’ novel, not to mention the previous screen adaptations, somehow left out the giant zeppelin air-ships (and by “ships” I mean frigates that fly with balloons instead of sails) that have aerial battles in the skies over Paris, not to mention the laser booby-traps that guard the Queen’s diamonds.  These anachronisms aside–and the Guy Ritchie/Robert Downey Jr Sherlock Holmes movie was mildly entertaining despite similar idiocies–Musketeers is simply bad news.  Under Anderson’s direction, the action sequences are clumsy (when we finally get a big sword fight, it’s staged so the adversaries can barely move–the antithesis of what makes a sword battle exciting), the CG effects are plentiful but cheap-looking and unconvincing, and the acting is worse.
Anderson has directed the capable performers to be smirky, while the less experienced actors are utterly wooden.  Logan Lerman, who appears on all the evidence not to be untalented (he was fine in 3:10 To Yuma and My One And Only), might as well be the jock older brother on a multi-camera sitcom; his love interest Constance (Gabriella Wilde), is a gorgeous young woman so unable to recite a line of dialogue that one would wonder about the relationship between her and the director if the cast didn’t also include Anderson’s wife Jovovich, another decent actor (notably in indies like Stone and Dirty Girl) who performs here as though she’s still in a Resident Evil movie–that franchise being guided by her husband too, as sometime director and producer.  The Musketeers themselves are colorless, while villains like Waltz, Bloom and Mads Mikkelsen as Rochefort, do everything but twirl moustaches and kick puppies.
The fact that this Three Musketeers is a campy cartoon might be OK if it were a good campy cartoon, but it’s entirely a mess, lurching from one flat, unfunny set-piece to the next.  Worst of all:  the last scene sets up a sequel even stupider than the movie we’ve just seen.  If we all squeeze our eyes shut and clap our hands, maybe it’ll just go away…

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."