THE THREE MUSKETEERS: All for one & one for all…cynical franchise-seeking mess

Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. Starring Logan Lerman, Milla Jovovich, Matthew MacFayden, Orlando Bloom. 110 mins.
Rating: Two/Five
In cinemas October 12

Never has the phrase “All for one, and one for all” been interpreted quite so cynically. Unabashedly stealing from countless films to transform a classic tale into the broadest, most generic form of money-spinning Hollywood tripe, this lazy rehashing owes more to Pirates of the Caribbean and CliffsNotes than to Alexandre Dumas’ novel.

Not exactly renowned for his originality, Paul W.S. Anderson is best known for his work on the increasingly awful Resident Evil franchise, and he doesn’t improve the reputation of remakes here. Not only does this charmless adaptation lose the cheeky humour of the book, but its checklist of action-adventure rip-offs means it completely loses any sense of its own universe. As physics, logic and plot are abandoned in favour of steampunk zeppelins, Matrix-style combat and Errol Flynn heroics, I longed for the simple silliness of Disney’s 1993 version – and when one is reduced to yearning for the bland charm of Chris O’Donnell, Boy in Tights, it’s a sad day for everyone.

Not least the three Musketeers who remain shockingly charisma and dialogue-free – so much so that I had to Google Aramis after the film, as I had absolutely no recollection of the character (sorry, Luke Evans.) As his predecessor Charlie Sheen might say to a man living with only one blonde bombshell: that’s not winning.

The film really belongs to the baddies, but though Milla Jovovich and Orlando Bloom give their all as the duplicitous Duke of Buckingham and Milady de Winter, his outrageous moustache twirling and her Entrapment-esque stunts are pantomime fodder. As the corrupt Cardinal, Christoph Waltz is reliably slimy, but in a film where James Cordon being defecated on passes for comedy, the appearance of this Oscar winner feels decidedly tragic.

The outlandish stunts may entertain younger audiences who like both their characters and battle scenes loud and brash, but the cynicism of this franchise-seeking smorgasbord of stolen stunts left me cold.

See the trailer here.