Prepare to swash your buckles, or whatever dashing matinee idols do these days. Directed by Paul W. S. Anderson – and starring Orlando Bloom, Milla Jovovich, Luke Evans, Ray Stevenson, Matthew MacFayden and Logan Lerman – The Three Musketeers 3D (2011) gives France’s most famous rogues a CGI makeover.
Power-hungry Cardinal Richelieu (Christopher Waltz), with the help of the deadly double-agent M’lady De Winter (Jovovich) and villainous Duke of Buckingham (Bloom), is out to steal the French throne, endangering the stability of peace in Europe. King Louis (Freddie Fox) decides to call upon his trusted musketeers Porthos (Stevenson), Aramis (Evans) and Athos (MacFayden), along with new addition to their ranks D’Artagnan (Lerman), in order to defeat the encroaching evil.
It may lack the panache of Douglas Fairbanks’ 1921 version, but this aside the latest adaption holds up pretty well. Stevenson, Evans and MacFayden – along with Lerman as the eager young pup D’Artagnan – give sterling performances as Dumas’ literary ruffians, whilst Bloom lends Buckingham an oily sneer worthy of Basil Rathbone.
Yet it’s Jovovich’s performance as M’lady De Winter which is the surprise turn. Icy in demeanour as well as beauty, double-crossing anyone who stands in her way, it’s easy to forget that Jovovich has been acting for twenty five years. She is totally bewitching – more than can be said for most supermodels who have attempted the big screen transition – remember Cindy Crawford in Fair Game (1995)?
However, the film’s 3D selling point may prove a double-edged sword. The concept lends itself perfectly to a story which requires sword fights and energetic cavorting in equal measure, and also adds sumptuous depth to the interiors of Louis’ palace (the Furstbischoflche Residenz in the Bavarian city of Wurzburg, which masquerades as Versailles) and the surrounding countryside. Despite this, using the term ‘3D’ in the title gives the impression the producers were stuck for a marketable angle for this new rendition.
Despite this – and the fact that the finale feels like ‘End of Part One’, The Three Musketeers 3D is an enjoyable romp reminiscent of some of Hollywood’s Golden Age excursions. Let’s just hope they don’t do a Pirates of the Caribbean, and spoil the original by turning it into the first entry in an over-familiar franchise.