There are more than 20 films made on Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers novel, so the challenge here for any filmmaker seeking to make a film adaptation is to come up with something new, but yet staying true to the spirit of what the One For All and All For One epitomizes. Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, the man responsible for a number of Resident Evil films and other remakes such as Death Race, it's quite obvious he'll film this in 3D given that he took the Resident Evil franchise in that direction with a steampunkish look and feel, but little else.
The Three Musketeers tells the story of four musketeers, with a certain D'Artagnan (Logan Lerman of Percy Jackson fame) looking to join the French King's elite force only to find that they've been disbanded by the evil Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) who has the diabolical plan of getting England and France to go to war, and stepping in to usurp the throne. D'Aartagnan soon makes an enemy out of Captain Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen) and bumping into the trio of Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Porthos (Ray Stevenson) and Aramis (Luke Evans), the titular musketeers now into semi-retirement, and soon find themselves banding together once again to answer the call of saving the king Louis XIII (Freddie Fox) and his queen Anne (Juno Temple).
That's the gist of the usual tale, where in Paul W.S. Anderson's case had envisioned the musketeers to be sort of an early rendition of secret agents out to do the country's bidding, with a license to kill. The opening character introductory sequence brings us to Venice, Italy, where the trio, together with Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich) embark on a secret quest to retrieve construction plans of an airship, only for the lady to betray them all, and working as a double agent under Richelieu, and the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom). The screenplay by Alex Litvak and Andrew Davies broadly follows certain key elements from Dumas' original story, such as the involvement of the Queen's lady in waiting (Gabriella Wilde), the plot to kick-start a war and the many political double-crossing, but took a lot of liberties pertaining to how events unfolded that it is The Three Musketeers in name only, and could have been entitled The Adventures of Milady de Winter for the pivotal role the character plays throughtout the film, and having just about the coolest of all fight scenes. Oh yes I forgot Milla is Mrs Anderson.
Much has been said about the mixed accents spoken through the film, and it's true, if one's a stickler for accent authenticity, one will not find that in this movie, where everyone just about speaks in their own natural accented English. Everyone practically hammed up their roles, with Orlando Bloom turning in a really flamboyant performance as the villainous Duke complete with metrosexual tendencies, while Christoph Waltz, the current Hollywood It guy to play chief villains in films, slept walk his way in his role - you can tell he's already tired from it all - complete with a very bad hairdo. Worst, the heroes aren't that heroic and lacked certain believable charisma given that they are supposed to be One for All, being at times too smart even for themselves, and got overshadowed fairly quickly by the more illustrious cast standing on the side of evil.
Since it's a Paul W.S. Anderson film, expect the usual slow-motion technique being overused in just about every major set action brawl, with green screen environments being obviously used to craft and design unbelievably complex fights that almost always try to be very cool and stylish. It does take the mickey out of a good old straightforward swordfight, especially since guns are the de facto weapon of choice instead. When the battle airships got introduced, you know this is not your father's The Three Musketeers, but very much something that could have existed in a parallel universe instead. I wonder if Alexandre Dumas himself would be entertained by this updated version, that became a lot more comedic in nature as the minutes ticked by, or turned in his grave at the monstrosity this was.
It's good that this 3D version was shot in that format and not playing the cheat sheet by having it done in post production, with some moments obviously exploiting that format and you'll have a number of swords pointing your way more than once. Otherwise it's the usual depth of field you'll get to enjoy, but alas this version is far from being the definitive The Three Musketeers that you've read about, but a very bland action adventure that uses its name and premise only, but lacked any depth to truly live up to the themes it stood for, paying lip service only about camaraderie and love. The open finale is unsatisfying as it leads directly into a potential sequel that will see some difficulties in becoming reality given that this one didn't light up the box office.