3 Oct 2011

Movie Madness: The Three Musketeers

I don't think there's any other way to classify this one than under Movie Madness, because the latest outing of my all-time favourite swashbucklers is definitely more than a bit mad!!!

I've been seeing this poster hanging up in my local movie theatre for almost a year now:

(warning: some spoilers ahead)

Very tantalising for a fan of Alexandre Dumas' most famous novel (I lost count back in high school as to the number of times I'd read it)! I was always wondering "when? when?" and "I have to see that one as soon as it comes out!", but always forgot to look it up by the time I got home. Well a few weeks ago I did remember to look it up, and found out it was hitting screens in Spain this past weekend... a full 2 and 3 weeks ahead of the UK and US respectively! Allow me a couple of minutes to gloat please (I get tired of waiting and waiting on movies I read about across the pond).
There. All done. ;o)

So I finally checked it out because I saw more posters showing up at the bus stops:

A quick YouTube search gave me the movie trailer:

And then it was all downhill from there... I was so looking forward to a grand version of the Three Musketeers, with the heated rivalry between d'Artagnan and Rochefort, the camaraderie between the Musketeers (and not just the titular three + d'Artagnan), the delicate romance between d'Artagnan and Constance, the tragedy that is Athos' past life, the amazing dominance of the intellectual mastermind Richelieu, the cruelty and seduction of Milady... and I was hoping they'd take the story past the typical episode involving the Queen's diamonds (most films leave it at that), which is barely the first half of the book! But that trailer got me worried, it seemed like they were going over the top for a modern audience looking for big special effects action and fighting sequences... *sigh* The Three Musketeers doesn't need all that! It's a fabulous yarn in and of itself! You know they say about if something ain't broke? DON'T (try) FIX IT!

*double sigh*
So now we've got a steampunk version of the Three Musketeers. With unnecessary complications (DaVinci again? At least this time it isn't a conspiracy theory, just some fabulous engineering project to get an edge on the enemy), some ridiculous character developments (Athos, Porthos and Aramis get introduced to us as spies for France??? and working with Milady?!?!?!), the twisting of an honourable character in the novel (Buckingham, who was in love with the Queen) into a villain (almost an over-the-top moustache twirling one too!). And then of course there are the...

DIRIGIBLES?!?!?! SERIOUSLY?!?!?! Who on earth thought they could get away with that one???

So I guess I should have known better... the fact that the only "name" actors were playing the villains (Milady - Mila Jojovich, Richelieu - Christoph Waltz, and Buckingham - Orlando Bloom) should have been a clue... but let's face it, there's no way in hell I was going to miss a big-screen outing of The Three Musketeers! I'm a sucker like that... Plus I was very curious to see how Orlando Bloom pulled off the villain (not that we get to see him much, but his character is quite fun when there!)

Here's the movie's official summary:
They are known as Athos, Porthos and Aramis - three elite warriors who serve the King of France as his best Musketeers. After discovering an evil conspiracy to overthrow the King, the musketeers come across a young aspiring hero - d'Artagnan - and take him under their wing. Together the four embark on a dangerous mission to foil the plot that not only threatens the Crown, but the future of Europe itself.
Ummm... what conspiracy? Sure there's the usual portrayal of Richelieu as major bad guy who wants to take King Louis XIII's place on the throne, (the usual story in most Musketeer movies, in reality he was just an enemy of the Musketeers and the Spanish Queen, he was highly dedicated to France. Plus had anything happened to the king, Louis XIII had a younger brother who would have been heir to the throne, and with a Medicis mother, no worries as to their survival!), but the musketeers never find out about that! All they know is it's a plot against the Queen's honour that could result in war because of a jealous husband. Oh, and the musketeers take d'Artagnan under their wing before any of this happens. :p

Since I couldn't cut and paste from the movie's main website (which is a slow and not very useful pain! better off with imdb) I've been reading/typing it from memory... while bits of the soundtrack are playing. Dunno yet who composed it, but I'm willing to bet Hans Zimmer 'cause parts of it sound a lot like the one from Sherlock Holmes. Let's check... nope. Paul Haslinger composed the soundtrack... he must be a big fan of Zimmer!

Back to the movie... a few detailed notes that are a bit spoilery so read on at your own risk, or skip ahead:

  • Milady is a spy for Buckingham? 
Milady and Buckingham
Since when?! She's always been known as the Cardinal's "creature", as far as Buckingham has ever known she's a beautiful, seductive, widow of an English count, Lord de Winter (he never finds out she's French).
Milady and Richelieu
  • d'Artagnan's horse isn't yellow, it looks like a cow with those polka dots! I must admit this makes for better jokes than those in the book ;o)
  • d'Artagnan has heard of the "Three Musketeers"? Seriously? In his little town lost in the countryside of Gascony???
  • the King is a petulant post-adolescent... typical interpretation of Louis XIII who was indeed young, but seriously?
  • the Musketeers and d'Artagnan get taken before the King for the incident with Jussac (illegal duel interrupted by the Cardinal's guards, #1 rivals of the Musketeers), and the King enjoys the idea of "his" men besting the Cardinal's, all while "trying" to discipline them... great scene straight out of the book! (with the Queen as an extra) 
  • Milady as an action spy... I'm not buying it! She doesn't need that, she's the ultimate seductress whose weapons of choice are poison and the dagger and weak-minded men. But it does give Jojovich a chance to show off her legs. :p
Milady preparing to jump à la Alias
  • Richelieu is shown practising his swordsmanship, now that doesn't surprise me given the historical figure (he trained for a military career before becoming a bishop)! They also hint at his great strategic intelligence with the chess board and the map of Europe.
  • All four (d'Artagnan + 3M) make it to Calais?! With Constance?!?!?! I miss the obstacles Richelieu had placed in their path and which left d'Artagnan alone to cross the Channel! I guess they needed the guys to pull of the dirigible trick, and Constance to add a sense of urgency later in the battle.
  • Constance... well I guess that's ok since they stop halfway through the story.
  • Have they set things up for a sequel? Please no more!!! If they take it any further they will really destroy the story!!!
  • the casting selection for d'Artagnan... does absolutely nothing for me. I know the character is young, but young in the 16th century is a whole lot more mature than young in the 21st century!
  • and don't get me started on Planchet...

Final evaluation: oh dear! Completely over the top with the action, interpretation of the characters, special effects... but it could be considered a fun couple of hours if you're very forgiving and want to enjoy a bit of swashbuckling and some fabulous costumes. ;o)

Final annoying element (for me), the movie's tagline:
"Born To Be Heros. Trained To Be Warriors. Destined To Fight Evil" 
Uh-huh. Whatever happened to "Un pour Tous et Tous pour Un"??? a.k.a. "One for All and All for One".

I think I might just have to go and pull the book off the shelf. It's been years...

PS: for those confused as to why a tale called The THREE Musketeers features Four guys (I've seen this question in several places)... that's because these three are musketeers:

Aramis, Porthos and Athos (always my favourite with d'Artagnan)
d'Artagnan is a young newcomer whose dream is to be a musketeer... but you'll have to wait 'till the end of the book to see that happen, it doesn't appear in the movie!


  1. Well, thanks for the review, Cris. That is one I will definitely skip, not caring much for the cast, and the fact that they've completely distorted the real story. Nice writeup you did here, I enjoyed your humor. :-)

  2. I remember seeing the movie version in the 1970's - maybe 73
    or 74 I think. That version was pretty good. Sometimes movies today depend too much on technology and try to make the film too flashy - they don't let the story tell the story anymore. Sometimes bigger and flashier isn't better!

  3. I've only seen the trailer so far and I don't know the book, but I'm totally confused by the airship things! I miss Dogtanian.

  4. I hadn't even heard about this until recently when I was searching for what Orlando Bloom was up to. Shame it's so awful, apparently...I sincerely want bloom to do something before - I don't know - the next decade begins.

  5. Well that film does not inspire me to go out and watch it. Your review was more interesting than the film I am sure. You did have a busy summer and some beautiful pictures to show for it. We traveled and I am always behind posting them. Before I can post them all we go on another trip – but this way I have a lot of pictures for rainy days .

  6. Glad you guys appreciated the review!

    Kim, I think I know which version you're talking about. I haven't seen it but heard it was good. I vaguely remember seeing the sequel which was made about 20 years later, which was perfect timing for the novels since the continuation of the Three Musketeers is called "20 Years Later"@

    Juliette, Dartacan (Dogtanian) got translated into English?! Must be a first for a Spanish cartoon! Now that brings back memories of summers in Spain! :o)


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