Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Paul W.S. Anderson is nothing if not consistent. The much-despised filmmaker is known for bastardizing video game adaptations and being a little too much in love with slow motion, but the man has an audience, and he knows what they want and gives it to them in heaps. With The Three Musketeers, one has to wonder: What audience did he make this for?
Is this umpteenth adaptation of Alexandre Dumas‘ classic adventure meant to be a kids film, considering the terribly immature and condescending humor? Is it intended to be cool, with all the stagy, slowed-down action? Or did Anderson set out to make a parody? After two hours of over-the-top, bland and empty bangs and noises, the parody argument starts to feel right. There are more than a few unintentional laughs going on here.
“Disaster” is a word that gets thrown around too much nowadays, but Anderson’s film more than earns the hyberbole. The director has made his fair share of bad movies – Mortal Combat, Soldier, AVP: Alien vs. Predator, Resident Evil: Afterlife – and this is, by far, his worst film.
It’s not that it ruins Dumas’ text, or that it pales in comparison to many other, more successful adaptations. This is a singular kind of train wreck, featuring tonally inept scenes filled with lazy humor that reduces good actors into giving career-worst performances. There’s so much wrong here it’s tiring attempting to list every big miscalculation.
If there’s any remnant of a survivor, it’s Orlando Bloom. The actor must have known what the film was going to become, deciding to literally twirl his mustache as hard as he can. Bloom, with the help of his fantastical hair and amalgam of ridiculous outfits, milks every scene for what its worth. Even his basic facial expressions further acknowledge the actor’s awareness of the cartoonish buffoon he’s playing.
The rest of the usually reliable ensemble do what they can to come away unscathed, a few cast members acting as if they’re making a better film. For the first twenty minutes there’s a lot of uproarious chuckling from the ensemble, and one can’t help but imagine they were thinking: “Are we really doing this? How is this getting made?” The Musketeers – Athos (Matthew Macfayden), Aramis (Luke Evans) and Porthos (Ray Stevenson) – have never, and should never, be this dull. Anderson’s stilted and unexciting direction pulls these talented performers down to embarrassing levels.
The actors who come away looking the worst — Milla Jovovich, Logan Lerman and Christoph Waltz — further add to the embarrassment of the film. Jovovich is a modern actress with a modern voice and a modern face, and she is painfully cringe-inducing as the villainous Milady. Lerman doesn’t have the charisma required to play D’Artagnan. And Waltz looks bored, as though he’s counting the days until he can reunite with Quentin Tarantino.
Boredom is this film’s cardinal sin. There are a few unintentional laughs present that might provide for a future Mystery Science Theater installment, but for most part it’s ugly and difficult to bear.
The Three Musketeers is in wide release.
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