Title: The Three Musketeers
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Logan Lerman (‘Percy Jackson & the Olympians’), Ray Stevenson (‘Thor’), Matthew Macfadyen (‘Frost/Nixon’), Luke Evans (‘Clash of the Titans’), Milla Jovoich, Orlando Bloom and Christoph Waltz
Adapting a famous action novel into an adventure-filled film packed with intriguing characters and breath-taking stunts and visuals isn’t an easy task. Director Paul W.S. Anderson strived to take on the task when he began production on the new movie ‘The Three Musketeers,’ based on the 1844 novel of the same name by Alexandre Dumas. While the filmmaker, who also produced the film, succeeded in seamlessly bringing the Musketeers’ fights to the big screen, the characters’ dynamics and personalities were unfortunately lost in translation.
‘The Three Musketeers’ follow three elite warriors, Porthos (played by Ray Stevenson), Athos (portrayed by Matthew Macfadyen) and Aramis (played by Luke Evans), who serve the King of France as his best Musketeers. The three discover an evil conspiracy to overthrow the king, Louis XIII (portrayed by Freddie Fox), by Cardinal Richelieu (played by Chistoph Waltz). D’Artagnan (portrayed by Logan Lerman), an aspiring hero and the son of a former Musketeer, travels to Paris and joins the Three Musketeers on their quest to save the Crown. In the process, the four must also battle Milady de Winter (played by Milla Jovoich), who betrayed Athos’s love to join forces with, and sell one of the Musketeers’ secret plans to, the Duke of Buckingham (portrayed by Orlando Bloom).
Production designer Paul D. Austerberry and costume designer Pierre-Yves Gayraud both did a fantastic job creating the visual settings and outfits, respectively, for the action-adventure film. The sets Austerberry designed feature diverse, elaborate buildings, based on where the characters are located. For example, the home of the Musketeers is small, compact and dark, representing their fall in power and prominence. Meanwhile, King Louis’ palace features exquisite paintings and chandeliers, which showcases his continued wealth and rule over his country.
Gayraud created vibrant costumes for the cast, most notably Milady and the rest of the women. The outfits perfectly represented the characters’ styles and personalities; Milady, for example, often sported provocative dresses that showed her seductive, cunning personality. She did whatever she deemed necessary to obtain what she wanted, even if it meant hiding weapons in her dresses. King Louis also wore colorful, decorative outfits that showed off his love for life and his charming naivety.
While Austerberry and Gayraud succeeded in creating intriguing, captivating sets and costumes, ‘The Three Musketeers’ screenwriters, Andrew Davies and Alex Litvak, unfortunately failed to capture the action and plot points that made the novel entertaining. Anderson focused entirely too much time on the action and fighting sequences between the Musketeers and Richelieu’s troops, instead of explaining why the cardinal wanted to take control of France. Davies and Litvak never truly explain why Richelieu is determined to undermine the king, who has turned to him for support and advice on how to run the country.
D’Artagnan’s personality and drive to become a Musketeer, an aspect that heavily influences many of his actions, was also lacking from the script. It’s difficult for the audience to celebrate his victories and support his quest for warrior status when it’s not explained why he truly wants to partake in the lifestyle. While his father once served as a Musketeer, D’Artagnan never expresses his own reasons why he wants to fight to protect France.
‘The Three Musketeers’ adequately delivers captivating sets, costumes and action sequences, and viewers will surely be intrigued by, and appreciate, the visual aspects of the film. However, Anderson unfortunately failed to deliver developed characters with clear-cut motives. Audiences, particularly fans of the novel, will surely be disappointed by the lack of distinction among the well-known and beloved characters.
Written by: Karen Benardello