Stupid for One, and Stupid for All!

When I was in elementary school, I often had my nose stuck in any one of a plethora of books. I aimed to accumulate as many A.R. (Accelerated Reader) points as possible (I set a school record, but that’s another story). While I do admit that I read Alexandre Dumas’ “The Three Musketeers” mainly because it offered over 40 points, it became one of my favorite novels due to the swashbuckling adventures of d’Artagnan, Athos, Porthos and Aramis.

That being said, imagine my horror when I saw the trailer for the newest film adaptation of this famous novel. Hollywood was unabashedly violating my childhood memento and getting away scot-free, and all I could do was watch in utter helplessness.

Nevertheless, in spite of my revulsion, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the sheer absurdity of Paul W.S. Anderson’s latest abomination (check out this man’s filmography, seriously), and in 3-D, no less. My verdict? “The Three Musketeers” soars beyond any level of stupidity, but it’s actually quite possible to enjoy it.

Unsurprisingly, the film isn’t a completely faithful adaptation of the novel. However, it does portray the main conflict as well as some elements from the beginning and end of the novel, though it shamelessly takes much creative liberty in doing so.

The cocky D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) comes from a long family line of musketeers. Having finished his training with his father, he heads to Paris, intent on joining the Musketeers of the Guard. There, he makes friends with Athos, Porthos and Aramis (Matthew Macfadyen, Ray Stevenson and Luke Evans, respectively), the King’s finest musketeers who are disillusioned from a failed mission a year before.

The group learns that France may be forced into a continental war due to a plot involving the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom) and schemed by Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) and the deadly assassin Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich). The musketeers are tasked to stop the villains and preserve France’s reputation, and their subsequent adventure takes them across the sea and above the clouds (literally).

It’s funny when you walk into a film which you know is terrible — you already have low expectations and hope that it will at least meet them and be, well, enjoyable. “The Three Musketeers” gets awfully close to being fun, but its over-the-top story is much too overwhelming to withstand.

When you know that a film is terrible, you expect it to be ridiculous at a certain level. Unfortunately, in the case of “The Three Musketeers,” it’s like AT&T’s slogan: it keeps raising the bar. Just when you think it can’t get any more stupid, it never fails to leave you dumbfounded and guffawing. At one point, a battle culminates at the Notre Dame Cathedral, and I half-expected Quasimoto himself to pick up a rapier and join the fray (which doesn’t happen, thank God).

The actors and actresses (none of whom have French accents, by the way, much less speak the language) are let down by poor writing in both character development and dialogue. Their performances can be categorized into four groups: those who acted their part and can’t really be judged, those who were disappointing, those who exceeded expectations and finally, those who went way over the top.

Though I expected Lerman and Jovovich to be the most horrendous out of the bunch, I found myself fairly surprised by their performances. Sure, Lerman’s d’Artagnan is as witty as Carlos Mencia and Jovovich’s Milady is missing that key ice-cold personality, but in this grand scheme of things, they were acceptable.

How ironic is it that the actors whom you expect to be the best in this film turn out to be the most disappointing? Macfadyen remains monotonous throughout, and Waltz doesn’t bring the deliciously evil villainy that’s expected.

Comic relief turns out to be the savior for Evans and Stevenson. Indeed, it is their chemistry with each other and James Corden’s Planchet that makes them noticeable. Without these humorous relationships, they’re pretty much nothing — this gives you an idea of how thin their characters are drawn.

Oh, Orlando Bloom. The man must think he’s in another “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie, only this time as Jack Sparrow. He indulges in flamboyance, and he doesn’t just chew scenery — he practically om-nom-noms it.

If the word “terrific” can be applied anywhere in this film, look no further than the costumes. The royal clothes are vibrant in color and texture, and even the uniforms worn by the musketeers are eye-catching.

Given the context of the film, the special and visual effects are well-done, though they’re certainly not anything new if you’ve watched any of Anderson’s most recent films. As for the 3-D, it doesn’t enhance the viewing experience at all.

“The Three Musketeers” is very well aware (and proud) of its ridiculousness. However, the film finds it necessary for the stupidity to mount, and it soon becomes too much to bear. It audaciously trolls the Dumas’ very existence, and the poor monsieur himself must be rolling uncontrollably in his grave. At this point, he’s never going to rest in peace.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5