The Three Musketeers and I go way, way back. I can still remember discovering Alexandre Dumas's novels in middle school. The adventures of Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and D'Artagnan rocked my world. A classic bromance, no? *wink* This afternoon I saw the latest big-screen adaptation of this classic brothers-in-arms saga, and while I thoroughly enjoyed it, I can only shake my head in mystification that Hollywood is apparently unable to produce a straight-forward adaptation of the novel. Why, I have no clue -- it's not like Dumas didn't already liberally douse his fiction with loads of drama.
ANYWAYS -- this version of The Three Musketeers is very much in the mold of Pirates of the Caribbean or the big-screen Sherlock Holmes. The current trend in Hollywood seems to require adding a steampunk-type vibe to any costume drama. Don't misunderstand me -- I'm not complaining, I love all of the aforementioned films. If you appreciate the source material and have a healthy appreciation for the ridiculous, this film delivers in spades. The costumes, settings, and the cast -- this is a gloriously rendered slice of eye candy full of glitz, humor, and best of all, hot guys who like to wear cloaks and fight with swords. MEN WITH SWORDS!!! WIN!! :)
I thought it was fascinating how the film chose to remain faithful or wildly deviate from the source material. I was rather surprised that they kept the idea of a relationship between Buckingham and Queen Anne intact, though in this case it is entirely fabricated for the sake of a European power struggle. Also, we're given Matthew Macfadyen as a deliciously angsty, brooding Athos, who apparently rocks seventeenth-century diving gear. He also has a past with Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich), only in this case they were never married -- and she was never "just" a spy (think Lara Croft -- I think Jovovich was channeling her inner Angelina Jolie for this role). Among the current crop of actors I can't imagine anyone better than Macfadyen as Athos -- he's almost so serious its as if he's parodying his earlier romantic roles (such as Darcy in Pride and Prejudice).
Any adaptation of The Three Musketeers rises or falls on the chemistry between the four male leads -- and Macfadyen's Athos is superbly supported by Ray Stevenson as the gregarious Porthos and Luke Evans (SWOON!!) as the (ex? how exactly does that work?) priest/lover Aramis. Stevenson appeared earlier this year in Thor as Volstagg, Thor's "mighty man" who loves to eat. *wink* He brings such a great sense of humor to these roles -- his Porthos may very well be my favorite on-screen incarnation of the character. As to Luke Evans...oh my word, I want to write the man an ode. He deserves it. Evans's career is, I suspect, on the brink of exploding -- he first came to my attention as Apollo in Clash of the Titans, and looking forward he gets a promotion to Zeus in Immortals, which will be followed by Bard the Bowman in The Hobbit films (I AM SO HAPPY ABOUT THAT!). Evans really knows how to rock wearing black leather (just being honest here), and he brings this great sense of world-weariness and intelligence to the role of Aramis. Look for the scenes where he's wearing wire-rimmed glasses - ADORABLE. FREAKING ADORABLE. I could watch him all day. :)
Mads Mikkelsen as the Musketeers' nemesis Rochefort, head of the Cardinal's guard, also deserves an ode singing his praises. I love Mikkelson, ever since he played Tristram in King ArthurI'm thrilled whenever he shows up on-screen. Mikkelsen looks quite dashing in Rochefort's eyepatch, and I thoroughly enjoyed his final fight with D'Artagnan. Listening to Mikkelsen growl his way through a scene never gets old. *wink*
I was a little concerned about Logan Lerman as D'Artagnan, as the only thing I'd really seen him in prior to this film was the Percy Jackson film (which, inexplicably, is getting a sequel). I don't know how much, if any, of his own stunt work Lerman performed, but the end result on-screen is a ton of fun to watch. He manages to hold his own opposite a slew of seasoned (and frankly, hotter) actors -- I was pleasantly surprised. I thought it was hilarious that he seemed to be taking his cues for D'Artagnan's portrayal from co-star Orlando Bloom's appearance in the Pirates franchise. In fact, this whole film owes a RIDICULOUS debt to Pirates of the Caribbean, from D'Artagnan doing his best to mimic Will Turner's heroics, to the flipping AIR SHIP BATTLE OVER PARIS. Yes, really. Pirate ships with hot air balloons in the sails, I never thought I'd see the day. LOL!
Speaking of Orlando Bloom, he was absolutely HILARIOUS as the villainous Duke of Buckingham. Bloom clearly put all the years he had to observe Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow into good use. Every time he appeared on-screen he chewed the scenery with ridiculous gusto. I have to give Bloom credit, he played the megalomaniacal villain role to the hilt, and really seemed to relish the opportunity. Not to mention the fact that he owned the clothes and that crazy pompadour hairstyle. On the other side of the villain equation, Christoph Waltz (seen earlier this year in Water for Elephants) played a wonderful Cardinal Richelieu -- chilling when required, and oh-so-adept at doing whatever is politically expedient in order to survive. I feel like he was a bit under-used, though -- but if this turns into a franchise (as the last scene in the film suggest that is the hope of the filmmakers), hopefully he'll be given the chance to really unleash Richelieu.
Two more quick casting notes -- I thought Louis XIII looked vaguely familiar throughout the entire film. Turns out Louis was played by Freddie Fox, the nephew of none other than James Fox, which makes him Laurence Fox's COUSIN! THERE'S A HATHAWAY CONNECTION!!! Freddie's acting debut was also in the Miss Marple episode Why Didn't They Ask Evans? I have to wonder how much ribbing poor Freddie is going to take for his *ahem* colorful costumes in this flick. Thank goodness my Musketeers didn't have to wear colored tights. *whew* Also, it was fantastic to see James Corden as Planchet, the Musketeers' servant. Corden should be instantly recognizable to fans of Doctor Who as he's appeared in two of Matt Smith's best episodes, The Lodger and Closing Time. Corden was HILARIOUS, the perfect foil for his grouchy masters.
The Three Musketeers is a heck of a lot of fun -- it has a total summer blockbuster vibe, with lots of action and explosions and gorgeous costumes, with the bonus of classic characters to draw in the lit-loving crowd like yours truly. *wink* I was rather suprised that director Paul W. S. Anderson is perhaps best known for directing flicks like Resident Evil prior to this outing. He keeps the action moving at a brisk pace, a really enjoyable mash-up of historical drama and modern flash. Perhaps most shockingly, Anderson has a script to work with that was co-written by Andrew Davies -- yes, the Andrew Davies. I have NO idea what the heck Davies was doing "slumming" with this project (do you think he's depressed about Julian Fellowes's success with Downton Abbey? HA!!!), but perhaps he's to thank for any resemblance to Dumas's novel. And the score was FABULOUS -- written by Paul Haslinger, it had all of the pomp and drama one could wish for as the soundscape to an adventure of this kind.
I have a soft spot in my heart for the 1993 version of The Three Musketeers starring a pre-24 Kiefer Sutherland as Athos and a pre-crazy Charlie Sheen as Aramis -- and I think a part of the reason I liked this new version so much is because it seems to possess the same zany spirit as its predecessor, gleefully tweaking the story to suit its purposes while giving the audience plenty of swordfights and heroics. This movie was a lot of fun -- and while I don't think it *needs* to be franchised, I'm not going to complain if the sequel Buckingham practically begs for at the end of the film pans out -- because this motley crew was a whole lot of fun to spend an afternoon with. I'd love to hear your thoughts!