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'The Three Musketeers 3D' review

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Released on Wednesday, Oct 12 2011

The Three Musketeers


Having butchered the original Death Race with an insipid remake, trampled on the Blade Runner universe in the desperately poor Soldier and reduced Resident Evil from a cool computer game into an object of hate, Paul WS Anderson has now turned his attention to the work of Alexandre Dumas.

His 1844 novel, which follows the escapades of young d'Artagnan in Paris alongside his musketeer friends, has had some variable adaptions. Arguably the best is the children's cartoon Dogtanian, which unraveled the tale in an amusing, coherent and exciting manner. This is far from the case in the 2011 film version.

The plot unfolds in a convoluted manner, with the focus very much on the visuals. Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Aramis (Luke Evans) and Porthos (Ray Stevenson) generally slouch around engaging in tedious banter until their dynamic is altered by the arrival of hot-headed little toerag d'Artagnan (Logan Lerman). Together they become embroiled in an attempt to prevent the duplicitous M'Lady (Milla Jovovich) and sneering caricature villains Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) and the Duke Of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom) from engulfing Europe in war.

The actors are very much treated as part of the scenery, although Jovovich has much fun in her role as a double agent and Macfadyen makes Athos an intriguing individual who exudes an inner sadness from beneath his eyes.

Elsewhere though, the superficial characterisation is epitomised by the presence of James Corden in a stock fat character 'cheeky-chappie' role. Having displayed his affable talents so well on Doctor Who recently, he deserves better than this crude treatment - which basically mocks his size. Put it this way, you don't have to wait long before his character is depicted gorging himself on a feast oblivious to the chaos that ensues around him.

There's an abundance of painful expositionary dialogue that alternates with horrendously unfunny wisecracks, perpetrated by actors who are given no chance to shine. The attempts to make the audience root for d'Artagnan are woeful, given that the supposed hero is both written and portrayed as totally petulant by Lerman. Just listen to the way he is introduced by Porthos, seeking to spoonfeed the audience as he proclaims: "You're reckless, arrogant, impetuous - but I like you lad!" Erm, speak for yourself!

In an attempt to give the project scale, Anderson has deployed a strategy of opening almost every scene with the camera surging upwards from a low angle, or alternatively sweeping across. That can be fairly effective when used more selectively, and one shouldn't deride filmmakers for the budgets they have to work with, but this visual scheme is far too repetitious and shows a lack of creative flair.

The swashbuckling nature of the premise should have ensured more visceral thrills than what is delivered. Beyond some decent CGI imagery of battling airships towards the end, especially when atmospherically enveloped by ominous dark clouds, there is little of note.

To be consistent with his previous efforts, Anderson deploys a relentless stream of fight sequences that revert to nauseating and outmoded slow-mo during moments of supposedly heightened tension. The 3D, as with so many films of late, only serves as a pointless distraction that adds nothing to proceedings.

All for one and one for all? Given the ineffective visual pyrotechnics, disparagingly poor characterisation, inane dialogue and muddled narrative, The Three Musketeers 3D is all for one star. Bring back Dogtanian and the Muskehounds!


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