Prepare to swash your buckles, or whatever dashing matinee idols do these days. Directed by Resident Evil’s (2002) Paul W S Anderson, and starring Ray Stevenson, Luke Evans and Matthew Macfadyen, The Three Musketeers 3D gives France’s most famous rogues a CGI makeover.
Power hungry Cardinal Richelieu (Christopher Waltz), with the help of the deadly double agent Milady De Winter (Milla Jovovich) and villainous Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom), is out to steal the French throne, endangering the stability of peace in Europe. So it is time for King Louis (Freddie Fox) to call upon his trusted Musketeers Porthos (Stevenson), Aramis (Evans) and Athos (Macfadyen), along with new addition to their ranks D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman), to defeat the encroaching evil. However they had not counted upon Buckingham’s deadly new weapon which literally rains death from above, putting everyone’s life in danger.
It may lack the panache of Douglas Fairbanks’ 1921 version, and the wit of George MacDonald Fraser’s script and forbidding presence of Christopher Lee from 1973’s interpretation, but this aside the latest big screen adaption of Alexander Dumas’ period adventure holds up reasonably well.
Stevenson, Evans and Macfadyen, along with Lerman as the eager young pup D’Artagnan, give sterling performances as Dumas’ literary ruffians, whilst Bloom lends Buckingham an oily sneer worthy of Basil Rathbone. But it’s Jovovich’s Milady which is the marvel. Icy in demeanour as well as beauty, double crossing anyone who stands in her way, it’s easy to forget the leggy Jovovich (whose said legs you see plenty of at one point), has been acting for twenty five years. She is totally bewitching – more than can be said for most supermodels who have attempted the big screen transition (remember Cindy Crawford in Fair Game (1995)?).
The film’s big ‘3D’ selling point though, may prove a two edged sword. The concept lends itself perfectly to a story which requires sword fights and energetic cavorting in equal measure. It also adds sumptuous depth to the interiors of Louis’ palace (the Furstbischoflche Residenz in the Bavarian city of Wurzburg, which masquerades as Versailles) and the surrounding countryside. But using ‘3D’ in the title gives the impression the producers were stuck for a selling point, ‘this stories been done to death – let’s make it 3D!’, and leaves the thorny problem of what to do for a sequel.
Despite this, and the fact the finale feels like ‘End of Part One’, The Three Musketeers 3D is a fun romp reminiscent of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Let’s hope they don’t do a Pirates of the Caribbean, and spoil it with over familiarisation.