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There have been numerous filmed versions of Alexandre Dumas' swashbuckling tale THE THREE MUSKETEERS over the years. My favorite of which remains the one starring Gene Kelly and June Allyson.
Some have been good, some have been bad and many have been so-so. But it's been a while since one was made so I guess it was inevitable that we have a new one; thus, we have this latest version from director Paul W. S. Anderson, the director behind the RESIDENT EVIL series of films as well as two ALIEN sequels.
Right off the bat we notice a change as the original story has portions tossed aside and new more modern items included. The original 3 Musketeers — Athos (Matthew McFayden), Aramis (Luke Evans) and Porthos (Ray Stevenson) — are aided by Milady de Winter (Milla Javovich) in finding their way into the secret archives of the Vatican in hopes of stealing plans draw by da Vinci for a flying ship. The archives are protected by all sorts of traps that seem more along the lines of things we'd create these days than then.
Once they take hold of the plans, they are betrayed by de Winter as she drugs them and hands the plans off to the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom).
Several years pass and things change. A young man named D'Artagnan (Logan Lerman) leaves his family home in the hopes of joining the legendary Musketeers where his father once served.
Along the way he has a losing fight with Rochefort (Mads Mikkelson), a high placed official in the government run by Cardinal Richelieu (Christopher Waltz) but is saved by de Winter. When he arrives in Paris the brash youngster soon finds himself involved in not one but three duels with various men he bumps into not realizing that these are the legendary 3 Musketeers.
Before they can fight, they are set upon by Richlieu's guard and a sword fight ensues where D'Artagnan proves his mettle with the legends. Upon finishing they are called before the king to be chastised. Except the king rewards them instead while haphazardly telling them to behave. Thus the group of four are united and their loyalty to the crown and not to Richlieu, who hopes to take over control, demonstrated.
With the exception of the opening the movie thus far sticks to the original storyline. It continues with a necklace belonging to the Queen in the hands of the Duke of Buckingham but instead of her having gifted it to him here we have de Winter stealing it. That gives us more of an opportunity for Javovich to have a larger role than in the book as well as a chance for her to display the fighting/action techniques she's displayed in other roles, perhaps because he husband is the director. You think?
A dance is planned and Richlieu plants in the mind of the King that the Queen could prove her loyalty to him by wearing the necklace since he was the one responsible for de Winter stealing it. With only days to save the Queen the Musketeers are sent forth to retrieve the necklace and save the day. Along the way they come across various plans to stop them as well as numerous steam punk modernistic weaponry, including the flying airships. I have to assume that the makers of this film felt that today's youthful crowd would be hard pressed to accept anything less than a video game mentality when it came to weapons and fighting sequences.
All of these minor quibbles aside the film is an enjoyable piece of entertainment. The action sequences are well filmed and the effects are dazzling. The acting is far above what one would expect for something like this and the characters well though out and performed. Perhaps the only thing that seems odd is the number of various accents displayed when all characters involved are supposed to be French.
Anyone renting this will have a fun time at the movies so much so that it might even be worth adding to your collection should you be a swashbuckler or Musketeers fan. It will definitely offer you an evening of entertainment. My only major gripe comes at the end when a set up for a sequel is clearly put forth in the most unsubtle manner. Other than that, it's all fun.
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