CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
‘The Three Musketeers’ Lets Down Legendary Heroes
CHICAGO – Seriously?!?! Another “The Three Musketeers”?!?! Just because source material is beloved, why does it need to be remade over and over again? Perhaps Paul W. S. Anderson’s new take on the legendary trio complete with “Resident Evil”-esque action sequences can serve as the final word on this over-done story although if it somehow ends being the only version that future generations end up seeing they will surely wonder why such a boring tale was retold so many times in the first place.
To be fair, “The Three Musketeers” isn’t horrendoud — it would be more fun if it was. It’s not goofy enough to completely come apart and Anderson regular (and wife) Milla Jovovich is typically engaging, as is Oscar-winner Christopher Waltz and great scenery-chewer Mads Mikkelsen. But Anderson proves that period pieces aren’t his forte, only coming alive during ridiculous action sequences (such as when Milla slides through a trapped corridor in what could have been a cut scene from “Ultraviolet” with merely a different costume). Most of the time, “The Three Musketeers” is merely what kids tasked to read the book by their most-hated teacher would assume it would be – boring. I never thought I’d say it but I wish Anderson had just made another “Resident Evil” movie.
The Three Musketeers
Photo credit: Summit Pictures
The characters are legendary – Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Porthos (Ray Stevenson), Aramis (Luke Evans), and D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) – The Three Musketeers and the young man who turns them into a heroic quartet. Although character names and the induction of D’Artagnan into a legendary group of heroes is about where loyalty to the source material begins and ends (although, honestly, betraying this oft-told tale is far from this movie’s biggest problem…I actually think it was a good idea to try to tell a new story. I just wish they had told a good one).
The film opens with Athos, Aramis, and Porthos in Venice, staging an assault on a trap-laden chamber of Leonardo da Vinci’s vault with the gorgeous Milady (Milla Jovovich). She betrays them to the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom), leaving the men downtrodden and in need of new blood like D’Artagnan to return them to heroic prominence. Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) works with Milady (who may be betraying him in a double-double-cross) to bring down the Musketeers while manipulating the young King Louis XIII (Freddie Fox) who is also involved with an ineffective love story with Queen Anne (Juno Temple).
Naturally, the casting of the title characters should have weighed heavily on the producers of the film. We need engaging, heroic, likable, charismatic men, and we need four of them. “The Three Musketeers” has zero. The film simply sags every single time that Waltz and Jovovich are off-screen as they are the only ones here who seem to be having any fun at all. It’s hard to say who’s duller and so I’ll simply lay it at the feet of all four leads. Every single one of them misses the mark and, of course, blame must then be placed firmly upon the man who directed them. Although I’m not sure anyone could have drawn the right performances out of the bland Lerman or half-asleep Macfadyen (seriously…there are times where it looks like he’s about to doze off.)
The Three Musketeers
Photo credit: Summit Pictures
D’Artagnan sums it up best – “I thought you’d all be a little bit more heroic.” You said it kid. And while there could have been a decent retelling of the legend of heroes with no causes to make them display their heroism, Anderson is not the director for that film. He needs to make films with concrete heroes, defined villains, and maybe even a zombie dog or two. He simply wasn’t the right man for this material. Of course, if it’s a Paul W. S. Anderson movie, there must be slo-mo, and the action scenes do out-perform previous versions of this story purely in scope and CGI but if that’s what you’re looking for there are surely better options for your action-movie dollar.
The main question I had while watching “The Three Musketeers” was simple – why? What on Earth drew producers to give Anderson the money to tell this story again? One can assume that the international appeal of the story had something to do with it because it certainly wasn’t for creative reasons. Quite simply, “The Three Musketeers” just never justifies its existence. There’s no reason to care. No reason to watch it again. No life, energy, character, or interest. In fact, it’s a lot like an bad English class lecture – if you don’t take notes, you might forget it even happened in the first place.