MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

By Mike Wilmington

Wilmington on Movies: The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers (Two Stars)

U.S.: Paul W. S. Anderson, 2011

Tous pour un, un pour tous.

Alexandre Dumas pere

“The Three Musketeers” — Alexandre Dumas’ quintessential swashbuckling adventure tale of three crack swordsmen and lusty comrades (Athos, Porthos and Aramis) and the hothead/country bumpkin (D’Artganan) whom they befriend and help turn into a world-class, sword-slashing, heart-stealing hero in the 17th century French court of Louis the effete 13th — has been filmed so many times (more than 40, according to the indefatigable IMDB) that you’d think by now they‘d know how to do it.

Certainly director Richard Lester (and writer George MacDonald Fraser) showed most of the way in their splendid and madly enjoyable 70s film-and-sequel The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers (1973-4), with Michael York as D’Artagnan and Oliver Reed (Sir Carol’s hell-raising nephew), Frank Finlay (Olivier’s Iago) and Richard Chamberlain (Dr. Kildare) as Athos, Porthos and Aramis. (And Charlton Heston as the wily Cardinal Richelieu, Raquel Welch as a prat-falling Constance, and Faye Dunaway as the murderous Milady).

There have been rowdy, likable entertainments made of Dumas’ classic before, with Doug Fairbanks or his great admirer Gene Kelly as D’Artagnan (1921 and 1948), not to mention the 1939 Allan Dwan-directed romp with Don Ameche as D’Art and The Ritz Brothers as the Three Musketeers (or their counterfeits). Or Walt Disney‘s Mickey Donald and Goofy: The Three Musketeers. Or the little-seen versions from Argentina and Egypt. Or such almost certainly horrible examples of botching the book as Barbie and the Three Musketeers, Zorro and the Three Musketeers and The Sex Adventures of the Three Musketeers — a deranged-sounding movie that may have given new meaning to the Musketeers’ famous motto, “All for One and one for all!” (Or is it “One for all and all for one?”)

Shouldn’t they have gotten all the mistakes out of their system by now with “The Three Musketeers?” Learned what works and what doesn’t?

Non! Non! Non! This new version has an estimable screenwriter: Andrew Davies of the Colin FirthJennifer Ehle Pride and Prejudice and other great British novel TV and movie adaptations. It has an offbeat choice for director: Paul W. S. Anderson of the bizarre pop actioners Resident Evil, Mortal Kombat and Death Race. And it has a cast that’s at least interesting (if not particularly good). Yet this flabbergasting movie quickly zooms to heights of almost drunken excess and rampaging foolishness.

Anderson’s Three Musketeers opens with triple intro-teasers of the title trio, in a series of semi-James Bond scenes, set in Venice and top-heavy with super-mechanical gadgetry and weird armour and sadistic jokes that seem to belong in a 17th century Goldfinger. Then he gives us an anachronistic villainess Milady (roguish-eyed Milla Jovovich, looking as if she‘d rather be Lara Croft and acting like Catwoman in queenly finery), a fairly good but wasted Three Musketeers ensemble (Matthew Macfadyen as an urbane but troubled Athos, Ray Stevenson as a staunch Porthos and Luke Evans as an elegant Aramis), and one of the worst D‘Artagnans ever: teen dream Logan Lerman (of Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief), who plays the role as if Paris and Versailles were big fratboy parties.

Then the mincing Louis XIII (Freddie Fox) shows up, followed by his flirty queen (Juno Temple), her girlish maid Constance (Gabriella Wilde), the sinister Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen, channeling Christopher Lee), the newly villanous Buckingham (Orlando Bloom, glam-hamming it up), and, of course, the wily Richelieu, played by Christoph Waltz of Inglourious Basterds, who supplies most of the theatrical style this show has to offer.

By the time the Musketeers and D’Artagnan are in full gear, tring to outrace Richelieu’s crew, and speed the Queen‘s diamonds back to Versailles, battling the bad guys over the English channel in a combination giant dirigible and full-masted flying galleon supposedly designed by Leonardo Da Vinci, a super-vessel that looks like Monty Python on morphine, the movie has gone beyond sanity into full-blown howling nonsense and what seems an Errol Flynn Sea Hawk-inspired booze nightmare. And since these are the kind of moviemakers who wouldn’t put a flying galleon in the air unless they could ram and crash it into a palace, a cathedral or at least an art gallery, you know what to expect.

 “Although I work and seldom cease,” wrote our gal Dorothy Parker, “At Dumas pere and Duman fils./ I really can not make me care, for Duman fils and Dumas pere.” (“Fils” rhymes with “fleece,“ for you non-Francophiles or non-Parkerites.)

I don’t agree. I like Dumas, bestseller factory though he may have been, and I’ve enjoyed his deathless, fraternal, breathless adventure classic ever since I first read a version of it it in the Classics Illustrated series at nine or so. But Ms. Parker’s witty contempt might have been warranted had she stumbled into this movie and taken a gander at that galleon and got an eyeful of Milady Milla and watched Freddie Fox‘s Louis swishbuckling away and saw frat boy D‘Artagnan fence on the airship’s beam with the rotten Rochefort. (Where are the Ritz Brothers when you really need them?)

Not a good show. But the movie is so damned outlandish it entertains you every once in a while through sheer unabashed nuttiness. Not very often though. But not your typical Three Musketeers, in any case. Non, non, non, mes amis! Tous pour tous. Un pour un. As we say (sometimes) in the Left Bank, while dueling with the villainous dogs of Cardinal Christoph, “Dumb for all and All for dumb!” (Or is it “All for dumb, and dumb for all?”)

Be Sociable, Share!

One Response to “Wilmington on Movies: The Three Musketeers”

  1. mei says:

    Logan Lerman really is a teen dream. Hottest Jewish boy ever.


awesome stuff. OK I would like to contribute as well by sharing this awesome link, that personally helped me get some amazing and easy to modify. check it out at All custom premade files, many of them totally free to get. Also, check out Dow on: Wilmington on DVDs: How to Train Your Dragon, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Darjeeling Limited, The Films of Nikita Mikhalkov, The Hangover, The Human Centipede and more ...

cool post. OK I would like to contribute too by sharing this awesome link, that personally helped me get some amazing and easy to customize. check it out at All custom templates, many of them dirt cheap or free to get. Also, check out Downlo on: Wilmington on Movies: I'm Still Here, Soul Kitchen and Bran Nue Dae

awesome post. Now I would like to contribute too by sharing this awesome link, that personally helped me get some beautiful and easy to modify. take a look at All custom premade files, many of them free to get. Also, check out DownloadSoho.c on: MW on Movies: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Paranormal Activity 2, and CIFF Wrap-Up

Carrie Mulligan on: Wilmington on DVDs: The Great Gatsby

isa50 on: Wilmington on DVDs: Gladiator; Hell's Half Acre; The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Rory on: Wilmington on Movies: Snow White and the Huntsman

Andrew Coyle on: Wilmington On Movies: Paterson

tamzap on: Wilmington on DVDs: The Magnificent Seven, Date Night, Little Women, Chicago and more …

rdecker5 on: Wilmington on DVDs: Ivan's Childhood

Ray Pride on: Wilmington on Movies: The Purge: Election Year

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon