Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Three Musketeers 3D: enter the dragon flamethrower [3Dvideo]

The world needs another Three Musketeers adaptation like it needs to be kicked in the chest. Over the years, Alexandre Dumas's novel has been churned up again and again with depressing regularity. Gene Kelly was in a Three Musketeers movie. Oliver Reed was in a Three Musketeers movie. Christopher Walken was in a Three Musketeers movie. Charlie Sheen was in a Three Musketeers movie. John Wayne, Tom and Jerry, Mickey Mouse and Barbie have all previously riffed on The Three Musketeers. We don't need any more, let alone this year's 3D adaptation by Resident Evil's Paul WS Anderson.

But let's not leap to any conclusions. Maybe Anderson has managed to rein in some of his more unseemly excesses to give Dumas the respect his work deserves. Time to pore over the new Three Musketeers trailer to see how well he does.

This is reassuring. Not only has Anderson decked out his musketeers in period-appropriate costumes, but he's also picked a surprisingly credible set of actors to play them. There's Matthew Macfadyen from Pride & Prejudice, Ray Stevenson from Rome and Luke Evans from Robin Hood. They're all veterans when it comes to historical pieces, so that's a plus.

What's more, d'Artagnan is played by Logan Lerman, a youngster who seems to fit Dumas's description of the character – "Face long and brown; high cheek bones, a sign of sagacity... Too big for a youth, too small for a grown man, an experienced eye might have taken him for a farmer's son" perfectly. You know, there might be something in The Three Musketeers after all.

Visually, Anderson seems to have taken a step back from his usual half-baked Michael Bay aspirations to accurately capture both the rolling greenery of 17th-century France and the spirit of playful adventure that made the novel so enduring. All this restraint might actually pay off. Could this be the definitive Three Musketeers adaptation? It certainly looks that way.

In the role of a lifetime, Milla Jovovich gets to play Milady de Winter. After all, if you're going to cast a scheming, murderous European seductress, who could be better? Worryingly, she appears to be doing a slow-motion cartwheel in the middle of a needlessly over-stylised swordfight, but perhaps it's just a trick of the light or something.

Great! They've even managed to keep the flamethrower bit in. You know, the bit where Athos wastes his enemies with a gigantic and historically unlikely flamethrower shaped like a dragon's mouth. Remember that bit? It's in the book. It is. Or maybe it was in that novelisation of Lethal Weapon 4 I read once. I can't remember. Look, it's probably in some sort of book. Surely that's enough.

Brilliant! They've also included the bit where Aramis creates a rudimentary 360-degree machinegun by stitching a load of cannons together and making them all go DAGGADAGGADAGGA until all the baddies explode in a 3D orgy of guts and fire. I'm certain that part was in the book. Unless by "the book" I mean "a terrible daydream by an overstimulated teenage boy who'll eventually grow up to be a murderer". It's entirely possible that I do.

Let's just assume that the bit where the sexy girl does a slow-motion limbo dance to avoid being torn apart by hundreds of spiked cannonballs is also in the book. As is the bit where Porthos fires a lasergun while riding a burning motorbike off a cliff, the bit where Cardinal Richelieu explodes a zombie's skull with his hell-bazooka and all the bits that take place in the robot lapdancing club. They're not in the trailer, but at this point I wouldn't put them past being in the film.

Finally we see d'Artagnan leaping out of a castle to escape a catastrophic explosion. It goes without saying that this scene doesn't feature anywhere in the book but, since the explosion was probably caused by Alexandre Dumas spinning around wildly in his grave, I've decided that it still counts.

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