The Three Musketeers 3D
Studio: Summit Pictures
US Rating: Rated PG-13 for sequences of adventure action violence
Film Length: 110 Minutes
Video: MPEG-4 MVC 1080P High Definition 16X9
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Release Date: March 13, 2012
Review Date: March 21, 2012
“All for One and One for All.”
3 / 5
The Three Muskateers – Athos (Matthew Macfayden), Porthos (Ray Stevenson), and Aramis (Luke Evans), along with the mischievous Milady (Milla Jovovich), execute a daring raid on a secret hiding place for a rumored Leonardo Da Vinci design – a flying war machine – but as they celebrate their victorious mission for France, Milady betrays them, stealing the plans for the villainous Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom). Athos, with whom Milady was romantically involved, is heartbroken and the Musketeers are disbanded by Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) as a result of their failure. A year later, an eager young man leaves the simple rural life to follow in his father’s footsteps and become one of the legendary Musketeers. His name is D’Artagnan and he quickly makes an enemy of Rochefort (Mads Mikkelson), commander of Cardinal Richelieu’s guards, and the three Musketeers themselves. Through battle and a dash of wit, D’Artagnan earns the respect of the legendary blades and together they uncover a sinister plot by Richelieu to overthrow the inexperienced King Louis XIII (Freddie Fox).
Director Paul W.S. Anderson, the man behind the effective science-fiction horror of Event Horizon and the video game adaptations of Resident: Evil worked hard to update Dumas’ popular tale of daring duels and dashing romanticism with modern vernacular and heaps of anachronisms, but the results are uneven. Though the direction is mostly solid and the action sequences more often than not well choreographed and exciting, the set of wonderful characters that populate the well-known story of The Three Musketeers are merely means to an end in the story. Precious little time is given to defining the characters beyond a comic-book introduction and a few fleeting moments designed to echo who these characters are rather than to explore them. The film is briskly paced yet seems to still overstay its welcome. At 110 minutes, there would be ample time to flesh out more meaningful character interactions but the time is wasted on style over substance.
Matthew Macfayden is very good as the mostly dour but quick witted Athos who, along with fellow Musketeers Porthos, playfully portrayed with brute strength by Ray Stevenson and Aramis, played evenly by Luke Evans, make a fine trio. Milla Jovovich seems to enjoy the ruthlessness of her Milady character and Christoph Waltz seems to take it all in stride playing the malevolent Richelieu, though he doesn’t exude the power and backhandedness that the character requires quite as well as expected. Playing the youthful D’Artaganan is Logan Lernam who has a certain charm about him and handles himself capably with the mostly European cast. Finally, Orlando Bloom seems to have the most fun as the wickedly evil Duke of Buckingham. He has the mustache though he doesn’t quite come to twirling it – a shame.
Besides the flight of fancy (and stretch of the term adaptation) with flying airships of war (allowing action sequences to take on the flavor of Pirates of the Caribbean), and the likeable and funny Planchet (played by Gavin & Stacey’s James Cordon), this retelling of the classic tale takes a really fine cast and some splendidly wild visuals and derives precious little joy from them. Sets are well dressed, costumes delightful and visual effects first rate, but a failure of the screenplay and the storytelling abilities of the director ultimately hurt the film.
The Three Musketeers looks super sharp on this fine Blu-ray presentation. Framed at 2.35:1 and in 1080p, this is a bright and bold looking film. Black levels are deep and there is a sense of depth and space even in the 2D presentation. Flesh tones are natural (erring on the paler side appropriate for 1600’s France) and the costume colors almost leap from the screen. In fact, the level of period detail in Anderson’s film is worthy of more recognition than the film itself, which may be a mostly entertaining two hours doesn’t do much to be remembered once the credits have rolled.
The use of 3D is quite effective. Anderson honed his dimensional skills on the last Resident: Evil movie (Afterlife) and continues to find fun ways to have objects strike out towards the audience. But it isn’t all gimmicks, the right placement of light sources even in darker scenes adds to the overall sense of depth. The use of 3D is not as effective as some other recent 3D releases, namely Hugo and The Adventures of Tintin, but I would suggest for those that are set up, 3D is the way to go.
With a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 option, the sound for The Three Musketeers is a winner. The sound design is abounding with directional and enveloping effects. The brute of the cannons, the precision sounds of blades clashing, the thud of punches, kicks and slaps are all delivered with perfection. Paul Haslinger provides a sadly generic score that comes with plenty of pomp but is entirely derivative of Hans Zimmer’s (and Klaus Badelt’s) work on the aforementioned Pirates of the Caribbean scores. You really can’t go wrong with this audio – plenty or rumble and crispness in all the right places.
3 / 5
3D version of the film
Blu-ray (2D) version of the film
Deleted and Extended Scenes (HD): 12 scenes of varying ultimate value.
Featurettes (Play All – 9:31):
§ Paul W.S. Anderson’s Musketeers (HD): Anderson talks about his love for the story and his desire to have fun with the tales.
§ Orlando Bloom Takes On the Duke (HD): Orlando Bloom discusses reveling in the bad guy role.
§ 17th Century Air Travel (HD): Anderson talks about his preference for creating real objects within the frame and relying upon green screen only for the distant backgrounds.
§ Uncovering France in Germany (HD): The benefits of shooting in Bavaria
Audio Commentary with the Director and Others (HD): Audio commentaries for films that ultimately failed at the box office can prove interesting, whether the filmmakers choose to discuss missteps, audiences failing to ‘get’ a film, or other lamentations on why their film didn’t become the hit they had hoped. This audio doesn’t touch that subject, perhaps because international audiences were kinder. Regardless, there are some interesting anecdotes and perspectives shared with only a few moments of silence from the self-described ‘Three Budgeteers’.
Access: Three Musketeers (HD): While watching the film you can access cast and crew stories of the making of the film (and more).
It might be hard to notice from the review, but The Three Musketeers is reasonably entertaining and enjoyable. The bold departure from the source material and the fine cast assembled can be fun, though many will be disappointed by the missteps taken in the dialogue, the pedestrian character moments (what little there were of them) and the overall feeling that this film either needed a little extra pre-production time, or spent too long in development. Of all the adaptations, this is perhaps my least favorite (it doesn’t feel the same to me without the late Oliver Reed involved), but I give credit to Director Anderson for trying something here. His filmography tells me he is a fan of film, even if he isn’t always able to tell a story as well as so many of his obvious – and frequently referenced – influences.
Overall (Not an average)