3-D bah!! Yet another unavoidable dip into my wallet by the film studios of the world. Three bucks more over a 2-D film that offers just as much as the more vaunted 3-D cousin. And with that aside ( as you all know I'm not impressed in the slightest with this fade of 3-D ) I will get onto the movie itself. Which by the way didn't need to be made in 3-D and wasn't any the better or worse for it.
When I first heard of a new musketeers adaptation I groaned in despair. In all the adaptations made over the years none have come close to Andre's Dumas' masterful 19th century novel. To you that have read it you know it is a narrative driven novel which is heavy on plot and intrigue. But what of the sword fights and dashing about heroically? Well to be the honest the novel is bereft of this. And this is where the film adaptations have all gone wrong.
Any action in the novel is referred to rather than played out. Sure there are a few sword fights and what not but as stated this is not the core of the novel. It is very much a story of plotting and intrigue within the French court. For me and many other purists the film adaptations have all been a let down. The intrigue is pushed aside in the pursuit of the novel's almost non existent 'action'. This really is annoying because Dumas' novel is a superb story and is begging for a decent film adaptation. Unfortunately, yet again, ( even in 3-D!!! ) this adaptation falls wide of the mark. Dreadfully so.
First of all the trailer that played here gave no real indication of the plot. All it showed was a whole heap of CGI action with a wall of loud 'exciting' music being blasted out. At the time I wasn't impressed and thought ' yep, the usual desecration of Dumas '. My skepticism seemed to be confirmed from the very first scene. It opens in Venice ( was Venice even mentioned in the novel?? ) and is a full on CGI action set piece. But then lo and behold the second scene arrives and we see d'Artagnan departing from his parents with Buttercup the horse, ala the novel! In fact from here on the movie did follow the novel somewhat. Certainly anyone who has read it will see the story line of it transferred into this adaptation.
But even so the movie deviates from the plot of Dumas to the point of absurdity. And this is my problem. Because whilst the Dumas plot is followed the adding in of certain elements whilst enjoyable, fun and spectacular, sort of nullified them. I want to bitch about them but for you who haven't seen it yet I won't give things away. Suffice to say the use of certain technology that wasn't invented in the 18th century is way from Dumas' vision, lets put it that way. When you see it you'll know what I mean.
So we get a sort of hybrid. It is part period costume drama ( and the costumes are very good ) and part...well part 18th century sci-fi. To be honest I did enjoy the taking of Dumas' story and following it plot wise and then infusing some visual embellishments. It certainly made for quite an entertaining flick. But I couldn't quite escape the feeling that with the budget that obviously went into the costumes and the CGI Dumas' novel could easily have been adapted quite faithfully.
Normally as many of you know I'm not a CGI fan. But the CGI in this is very, very good. The scenes of 18th century Paris and London are superb. Normally I find CGI unable to realistically replicate city scapes. Edinburgh in Burke and Hare is a good example, as is London in the last Pirates of the Caribbean movie. But both cities here did look good. Sure there is plenty of other CGI usage but to be honest I've seen it all before and it didn't really stand out as such. It is funny because for once the CGI of the city scapes was better than the hand made props. In one Paris scene the houses are far to bright and garish. They look far too new and should have been much more drab and dirty in fitting with the period. Read your history and you will know that both Paris and London where not particularly clean cities at all.
But that is my only criticism visually. The cast is a good one but I think Orlando Bloom and Christoph Waltz are becoming too type cast. I stated this some time ago about Waltz and someone shot me down saying it is early in his career. But he has been in a few films now and has played the baddie in all of them. How is that not type casting?? Bloom meanwhile seems to be stuck in this costume type film role. He may like it that way but one would think he would like to spread his wings a bit more. Even Mila Jovovich is somewhat type cast and her Resident Evil ways are here for all to see. She is involved in all sorts of action and bare her thighs moments right throughout, ala RE. I suppose when you see that Paul W. S. Anderson who directed several of the RE movies is in charge it is no surprise he utilises her in this way. Overall though the whole cast does a competent job without being spectacular.
So then The Three Musketeers 3-D is just another re-interpretation of Dumas' novel. Sure it follows the basic plot of the novel but it adds in some historical implausibilities that completely defile this as a genuine musketeers movie. Even the bro-mance of the novel is killed and muted in this. I liked it though in a fun way and had a few chuckles. But with the money spent a more faithful adaptation could just as easily have been achieved. It isn't that bad and compared to other films of it type this year, with its strong plot from Dumas, this is a better than average movie. But only just!! I didn't think it as bad as many are saying though. IMDB has it with 5.9/10. I would have to agree because ultimately it is nothing more than a tune out way to spend several hours.
One last word from a Dumas purist! I love the novel as do millions of others who have read it over the years. I cannot believe that a faithful adaptation has never been made. The novel is intrigue heavy and a great story. In many respect it is no different to a modern spy novel of which many can be slow paced and a bit dry. It annoys me that all the adaptations have got to take the story and play with the idea of the musketeers so much. The novel isn't an action novel at all even though there are a few scenes like that. In many respects since it is seemingly beyond any film maker to make a decent adaptation then maybe it should be adapted to television in a serial form. The English are brilliant at period costume dramas and I'm sure they could make a very faithful adaptation. Like so many we can only hope because even though this was a fun movie it is complete hogwash of one of literature's great novels.