D'Artagnan (Lerman) is a country teen who heads to Paris to join the musketeers, special officers loyal to King Louis (Fox) but not the manipulative Cardinal Richelieu (Waltz), who has a guard of his own headed by Rochefort (Mikkelsen). D'Artangan immediately falls foul of the three musketeers Athos, Porthos and Aramis (Macfadyen, Stevenson and Evans), then teams up with them to fight off Richelieu's goons. And soon they're involved in a devious plot by Richelieu and Milady (Jovovich) to spark a war between Louis and England's Duke of Buckingham (Bloom).
The script sets up each hero with simplistic shorthand: D'Artagnan is gifted but insolent, Athos is a lovelorn ninja, Porthos is a beefy strongman and Aramis is a Batman-like smoothie. And there isn't much more to them than that.
Sure, Athos has a history with Milady and D'Artagnan sparks a romance with Consance (Wilde), handmaiden to the queen (Temple), but neither of these sidelines develop into anything beyond plot devices the screenwriters use to counterbalance the bloated effects sequences.
Because this is what the movie is really about, and Anderson indulges in detailed digital effects to re-create the period and throw these characters into Michael Bay-style battles. During the final act, the action actually takes place in the sky, as the characters board flying ships darting across the Channel. Strangely, even though the film is rendered in sharp 3D, Anderson doesn't really make the most of it, even with the swordfights.
But the real problem is that everything on-screen is so silly that it's immediately forgettable (you know you're in trouble when a sword is referred to as the weapon of a musketeer). Most of the film is played for laughs, with sassy-sounding dialog and vague innuendo. Although most of the emphasis is on fight stuntwork and startlingly violent battles. Sure, it's mindlessly diverting, but it's not good enough to raise hopes for the obviously already-planned sequel.
Run time: 110 mins
In Theaters: Friday 21st October 2011
Box Office USA: $20.4M
Box Office Worldwide: $132.3M
Distributed by: Summit Entertainment
Production compaines: Studio Babelsberg, Constantin Film Produktion, Impact Pictures, Nouvelles Éditions de Films (NEF), New Legacy
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 24%
Fresh: 22 Rotten: 68
IMDB: 5.8 / 10
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Screenwriter: Alex Litvak, Andrew Davies
Starring: Milla Jovovich as M'lady De Winter, Orlando Bloom as Duke of Buckingham, Logan Lerman as D'Artagnan, Ray Stevenson as Porthos, Matthew Macfadyen as Athos, Luke Evans as Aramis, Mads Mikkelsen as Rochefort, Christoph Waltz as Cardinal Richelieu, Freddie Fox as King Louis XVIII of France, Gabriella Wilde as Constance, Juno Temple as Queen Anne, Til Schweiger as Cagliostro, James Corden as Planchet, Dexter Fletcher as D'Artagnan's Father