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Film Review: The Three Musketeers

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All for nought

The good news is that The Three Musketeers, shorn of cultural and literary baggage, is probably the least offensive thing Anderson has made. Sure, it’s perfunctory, thin and absurd, but so was Karen Carpenter, and she later took on iconic status. It’s hard to say if Anderson’s film will do the same; it may be the definitive adaptation, in as much as surely no one will dare make another once they’ve seen it, but its breezy setpieces, derivative staging and one dimensional plotting are by the by: its undemanding fun. Should you be more demanding? Probably, but there will be days when you’re tired, morose and dead to the fingertips, and surely then you’ll need a tonic.

Anderson’s Musketeers are well cast. Matthew McFadden, Luke Evans, who’s the spit of my friend Adam Thomson, and Ray Stevenson look every bit the swashbucklers, and they’ve got the swagger to match. Less welcome is James Corden as Planchet. The comic actor who berated the producers of British teen soap Hollyoaks for body fascism and unfavourable treatment based on his genetic inferiority to other cast members, here sells his soul for an opportunity to share screen space with the antidote to RADA trained actors, Mila Jovovich.

He’s a fat buffoon, given an effeminate voice and forced to endure indignities such as pigeons shitting on his face and a final scene, in which, because of his weight, his imagined greed is mined for laughs; the rotund dunce leaving a palace dinner with a joint of meat under one arm and a entire jelly dessert under the other. Did he read a script before signing on the bottom line? We can’t know but we have our suspicions.

Fans of Anderson’s oeuvre, dignity be damned, will find much to enjoy here. As ever the British blunderbuss uses a hammer to crack a nut at every opportunity. The wind-punk galleons that coarse through the 17th century skies provide plenty of anachronistic added value; so too the choreographed acrobatics and the fancy dress costumes. Most unlikely of all, Orlando Bland, usually indistinguishable from the material used to build movie sets, gives a enjoyable performance, of the kind accompanied by bread sauce, as the dastardly, bastardly Duke of Buckingham. You’d be enjoying yourself too if you were paid for the like.

A cliffhanger, now de rigueur in Anderson’s movies, sets up what looks to be a very expensive sequel. This is, of course, a ruse used by the director to ensure that strictly speaking, his films are never over, and you’re therefore obligated to return to see how the story pans out. Still, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if these sword-fighting ciphers returned. It would just feel like it.

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Directed by: Paul W.S Anderson

Country: UK/Ger/Fr

Year: 2011

Running Time: 100 mins




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