The Three Musketeers: steampunk and swords and not much else…

Okay, here’s the trailer for the 2011 film, The Three Musketeers. Watch it. I’ll wait. 

Right, you’re back? Good. You’ve now seen almost entirely all the best bits of the film. I say almost, because WOW were there some brilliant sword fighting scenes. I’m sure my friends with swordplay knowledge will poo-poo the fight scenes, but I thought they were brilliantly done. Sadly though, they really are the best bits of the movie. And I wanted it to be so much MORE.

Swordfights ahoy!

Well, to be fair, I really quite enjoyed watching it. It was fun, it was pacy, there were lots of lovely, MATURE, men to enjoy, there were some great female characters doing cool things (even though those things were, as in much of the rest of the movie, somewhat over the top). But seriously, this story has been told on the screen so many, many times, and to be the brilliant film I really wanted it to be, the film the trailer almost gave me hope for, it had to be something pretty damn special. And regretfully, it really isn’t.

It starts out being somewhat true to the original novel by Alexandre Dumas (although it does deviate from the second half of that story). It has great sword fights, as I’ve said, and the Musketeers are appropriately clever, talented and roguish. But you know what? So were these guys.

Those aren't Musketeers! THESE, are Musketeers…

And I think that’s the biggest problem for me, with this 2011 version. Sure, it’s pretty, and I loved the steampunk elements that were brought to it, but in almost every other way, this new version was simply a poor reflection of the very fun 1993 Disney movie. That’s right oldies, that film came out 18 years ago! Eep.

No, the outfit was not explained.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the 2011 Three Musketeers if a fun film to watch – go in, turn off your brain, and enjoy the spectacle. Enjoy Orlando Bloom being a sleazy, pouncy bad guy; enjoy Milla Jovovich in her corset (yes, they did); enjoy Stormageddon’s dad being pushed around (see what I did there Tansy? 🙂 ); enjoy the very silly king of France; enjoy the outlandishly varied accents… It’s all entirely watchable. But it’s not what I wanted it to be. Really not.

I think a lot of it comes down to the acting – I loved the actors, but I’m not sure all of them were well cast (my favourite was definitely Aramis (Luke Evans) as an actor, but for sheer delightfulness, Porthos (Ray Stevenson) was awesome). Anne (Juno Temple) was fabulous, but under-used. Christopher Waltz took time to grow on me, but seriously, compared to Tim Curry, who wouldn’t? On reflection, I think Waltz was very good as the Cardinal. But as for the rest? Not so much.

Abysmal hair design for d'Artagnan!

It’s interesting, going through the cast list and checking out their filmographies – I honestly just think many of them weren’t cut out for the role they were cast in, because they don’t lack acting chops. Jovovich (who does suffer from comparison to Rebecca de Mornay) couldn’t manage the subtlety needed to play the role of Milady; Macfayden didn’t have the grit I kind of expected from Athos; and can we please not speak of Logan Lerman as d’Artagnan. Especially his hair.

So yeah. It was fun. It wasn’t what I’d hoped. Maybe viewers who haven’t seen the 1993 version won’t have the same comparative problems I did (oh, and I should stress, I know THAT film was by no means perfect either!), and so a new generation of Musketeer fans will be born. But for us oldies, and those of us who REALLY WANTED a steampunk Three Musketeers to be just brilliant? Lower your expectations and just have fun.

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