Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ha-Ra was so disappointed by the potential of THE THREE MUSKETEERS!

The Three Musketeers is one of my favorite books of all time. That's not an understatement, Alexander Dumas' classic has influenced my own storytelling to a great degree. But I don't love it just for its age (like a pretentious literature snob), but I love it for being a fun, swashbuckling adventure doubling as revisionist history featuring the exploits of three drunken and hard edge fighters teaming up with a young, quick upstart to stop the nefarious plot of Cardinal Richelieu. Paul W.S. (Worthless Shit) Anderson, director of the "classic" Resident Evil movies, is the latest to adapt the story and while it's not an absolute disaster, the film is sadly robbed of greatness with so many missteps that the film might as well have been written by Alexander Dumbass. 

In this adaptation, The Three Musketeers (Athos, Aramis, and Porthos) start the film off with a mission in Venice to steal the plans one of Leonardo da Vinci's weapons (since he made so many of the damn things) with Athos' girlfriend, Milady (played by director's wife, Milla Jovoich). Milady ends up betraying the team and gives the plans to the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom) instead. A year later, a young, cocky D'Artagnan (played by shit-head Logan Lerman) comes to Paris after getting into a confrontation with an equal asshole named Rochefort (Mads Mikkelson) and gets into an adventure with the trio to stop the Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) from instigating a war across Europe.

Okay, so the Mission: Impossible in the Renaissance opening clearly sets up that the filmmakers aren't even paying attention to the book. Hell, some of the scenes featured in the beginning looked like they were ripped off from the director's own Resident Evil movies (that also featured his wife, more on that later). But weirdly, once D'Artagnan is introduced, the ACTUAL plot of the original book is all there. From D'Artagnan's confrontation with Rochefort to setting up a duel with each of the Musketeers to the plot to recover the Queen's jewels from the Duke is all there. I was so damn excited they got the story of the first third of Dumas' novel was actually there, and they even got the personalities of Athos, Aramis, and Porthos right...for five minutes.

You see, the Three Musketeers pull a Transformers here and are barely in the movie featuring their name. While the personalities exist, they only speak for a short amount of time so they can focus on D'Artagnan who is such an unlikable, cocky, shit-head that's it hard to enjoy the movie for a time. They even want to focus on King Louis as a metrosexual completely obsessed with fashion, the performance becomes laughably bad. 

Which brings me to the dialogue. It's so bland and uninteresting that there's no fun at all. Some of the plot developments also don't make a lot of sense. For instance, the Musketeers use a grandiose plan to steal an airship with all sorts of advanced weaponry There was no point but to have a big action scene and the end goal could have easily been solved in another, less stupid. There's also no lingering threat present until the halfway point in the film, so there's no urgency to the story. When urgency is actually introduced, it's so unreasonable that it makes no sense (steal jewelry from the Duke who is London, ENGLAND in five Renaissance France). And when the script calls for a joke, it's just not funny. For instance, Aramis gives a bunch of technical language to D'Artagnan, to which the latter responds with "In French Please"...get it? The real "comedy" comes in when the script's seriousness doesn't work and comes off as "so bad it's funny."

The acting is all over the map. While the Three Musketeers are entertaining for the five minutes they're in this movie, we're left with Logan Lerman acting as D'Artagnan. In the book, the character is a cocky and prideful jerk who learns to grow up through his experiences. In the film, he doesn't evolve or learn a lesson or find that he's actually a nice guy, he's just an asshole from beginning to end. Other cast members have accents throughout the film but they range from British to crappy French-accent to just not trying at all and going back to their American accents. Milla Jovovich is fine as Milady, but does nothing interesting. The only person in the cast that strangles this script and makes it his bitch was (of all people) Orlando Bloom. Bloom has a nasty habit of playing the pretty-boy action hero with uninteresting dialogue. Here he chews the scenery with his over-the-top villainous dialogue and it surprisingly works to become something memorable and fun.

The over-the-topness extends to the action, which is hit or miss here. Some of the sword fighting scenes are effectively shot to get a cool-swashbuckling feel, but others just don't work. A few scenes pull off that terrible-Zack Snyder slow-mo/speed-up crap and what's shot isn't even that cool. There's a cliche running and jumping away from an explosion scene, but it's so lame here because the face of D'Artagnan's face is so in-genuine that it's hard not to notice.

Then there's the Milla Jovovich scenes that are a rip off of the Resident Evil corridor sequences featuring Alice (Milla Jovovich...again) running down and dodging traps...only in this movie she's in a corset.The director is clearly in love with his wife, and spends most of his movies showing off all her "ass"ets. Seriously, all his movies with Milla are more or less screaming: "CHECK OUT MY HOT WIFE GUYS!" 

Finally, there's the very glaring issue of the airships and advanced weaponry for the Renaissance. From the trailer, it was giving me some bad deja vu of Wild Wild West's steampunk technology. In the film itself, it's not so bad and it added a distinct flavor to set the film apart from the ten other adaptations of the story. But the weapons do get a little ridiculous (like a machine gun-like cannon arrangement and flame throwers), and again, they take you out of the movie and have you laugh at it. 

At the end of the day, I was expecting this to be the worst adaptation of one of my favorite books and I was glad that it wasn't that bad. But it's by no means great or even good since the film missteps so badly with action that's not fun, dialogue that's so bland, and the plot goes all over the place that it becomes noticeable. Finally the Three Musketeers themselves are barely in their own movie and we're left to follow an incredibly unlikable protagonist with an even less believable romance than the one in the Star Wars prequels. It's not worth a ticket to the theaters, but you might get some enjoyment with renting it. I'm left disappointed that this film had such great ideas and was actually trying to tell the story of Alexander Dumas' classic, and it's brought down by a filmmaker's Dumbass mistakes. 

Driving with that Thing all Footloose

The After Lobby is doing a two parter this month in honor of Halloween, the time of the year when both ghosts and Hollywood duds come to life. This week, we review Drive, The Thing, and the most frightening movie to come out this year....Footloose! Stay tuned next week for part 2! Podcast Powered By Podbean