By Gabriel Stoffa
Ames247 Staff Writer
I love the musketeers. I love the books, I love the movies, I love the things inspired from the stories. Most movies made of the musketeers are pretty bad in regard to using one of the greatest stories written, but I have dealt with that over and over.
The newest incarnation, “The Three Musketeers” 2011, is not any better than any other film attempt to follow the grand story. It falls into many of the same Hollywood flaws of giving unnecessary character alterations in order to appease audiences.
But I will say, it isn’t a bad movie. You can go and still be a fan of the musketeer stories without walking out. All you have to overcome is the problem that this movie, like most others, doesn’t seem to understand what makes the musketeer stories so good.
“The Three Musketeers” 2011 takes Athos, Porthos and Aramis and make them into almost superhuman characters when it comes to fighting prowess. This is annoying, but forgivable in the grand scheme of things, though making Athos into an aquatic ninja in the opening sequence was really, really stupid. But Ray Stevenson as Porthos was excellent casting, possibly the best there has been.
The newest D’Artagnan is certainly full of the Gascon cockiness — Logan Lerman might become a worthwhile actor after all — but could have done with a bit more of the bumpkin means in regard to eloquence of speaking. Given the attempt to turn this version into an action extravaganza, I guess I cannot complain too much.
Athos, Porthos and Aramis were turned into the legendary characters that most folks out there who have never actually read the musketeer tales would imagine them to be. Thankfully, they were tempered, if only ever so slightly, with a bit of the understanding that they were opportunistic drunks that like to brawl.
I was impressed by the writing of and then acting of by Freddie Fox as King Louis XIII of France. I felt just spoiled enough for the role.
An annoying bit of the movie come from the dirigibles — flying airships — operated by the Duke of Buckingham. Orlando Bloom was not a bad Duke, but you would hardly be able to tell that given the poor scenes he was given on that damn ship.
Following the dirigibles came the undoing of the entire film as to ever being regarded as a quality musketeer movie: They ruined Milady de Winter. Milla Jovovich made for a fine Milady, casting her could have been amazing. But then some idiot along the way decided that Milady should not be the amazing villain that the character is — one of the greatest villains ever written — but instead should be a ninja.
No, I’m not kidding, some jackass out there figured turning Milady into a Victorian-age version of Alice from the “Resident Evil” series was the way to go. If I didn’t like the actual cast of the film so much, I might have walked out after seeing her first run of ninja moves. Ugh. To rant for a moment, Milady provides for the strongest, most sinister female villain written; she is in the top 10 for greatest villains period in my opinion. When you take “The Three Musketeers” story and transfer it to film, naturally there are going to be a lot of unnecessary emphasis on the musketeers and D’Artagnan and making them into some big heroes or whatever. This is tolerable so long as Milady is at least kept somewhat intact; this is usually the mark of a “good” musketeer movie versus a mediocre action movie attempt.
Alas, the movie failed miserably on that account.
Additionally, it got the story of Rochefort wrong; but every version seems to do that. One day I want a musketeer movie to get it right: Rochefort and D’Artagnan are supposed to become friends to a degree, he isn’t supposed to die in the first installment of the musketeers’ adventures. And for that matter, he doesn’t have a damn eye patch, he has a scar on his cheek.
A redeeming trait can be found in Richelieu. Christoph Waltz makes for a fine Richelieu, and thankfully the writing has him remaining well in power with his political machinations intact. Note, Richelieu is not supposed to be a “villain,” he is an adversary due to an overlap of goals.
I could rant and rave for hours, and if you ever want to, I’m happy to dissect all the musketeer movies and scream at their flaws. But, as an overall fun and pleasant film outing, I will count the 2011 “The Three Musketeers” as worth seeing some time; even if that “some time” is by renting it or going to a dollar theater.
If you want to fully understand how close a musketeer movie has come to being similar to the books, though still terribly far off, try watching the 1973 “The Three Musketeers,” followed by the second half of that movie, the 1974 ‘The Four Musketeers.”