How you react to The Three Musketeers will depend on what you’re in the mood for. If you want a wonderful period adaptation of classic French adventure literature, then please look elsewhere. However, should you instead be seeking insanity, spectacle and fun without such mundane concepts as logic and history, then this is most definitely for you.
The story is a classic: the brave but impetuous d’Artagnan journeys to Paris to become a Musketeer, and must unite with the famous Athos, Porthos and Aramis to tackle sundry foes and plots to save the King and France. And this does indeed happen. However, certain embellishments indicate a more open-minded approach to the novel than some might appreciate.
The flaws and objections are many: the Venetian opening, the title-card your sole reassurance that this is the correct film; modern set-pieces translating awkwardly into the period (a wall of razor-sharp wire is not laser grid security); the accents leaving you thoroughly bewildered as to just where any of this is happening; the gratuitous shots of provocative spy extraordinaire Milady; James Corden as comic relief; the airships. The first ten minutes are key, throwing so much at you that it is essentially adapt or die, as title-cards introduce characters engaged in mind-boggling acts – Athos, for example, arrives in seventeenth-century scuba-diving gear with collapsible but pre-loaded crossbows. You will spend these ten minutes open-mouthed at what is being presented; the decision to accept it is your own.
This is not a good movie, in the traditional sense. However, from a rather different angle, it is quality entertainment. Films like this are why the fond term `romp` was invented: pure escapism, swashbuckling and derring-do before common sense. The action scenes are absolutely fantastic and amazingly choreographed, with such fights as four against forty and a duel atop a French landmark almost justifying the entire enterprise. It is mindless, certainly, but you do not expect better. It keeps the political machinations of the book, and there are some considerations of political games and betrayal, but this remains a tale of quips and battles, comedy and action. Do not come looking for deep character analysis – presumably Buckingham’s facial hair made him evil (Orlando Bloom battling against type) – or plausible romance. These are not the subjects of this film (or possibly the book), just as the actors are simply having a good time. It is ridiculous, but brilliantly ridiculous. Often you will be in hysterics at the immensity of it all, thinking they cannot top themselves but constantly proved wrong. The final shot is one of the most hilariously jaw-dropping sights recently committed to film, and magnificent as such. Those looking for something more normal will be disgusted, but this has `guilty pleasure` stamped all over it.