“It Was An Off Day.”

Clearly, I will watch a terrible movie at any given time, just to make fun of it, regardless of mood, circumstance, rain, or shine; I am there for mockery with bells on. But my sister and I had a particularly crappy day recently, and we needed something to take our mind off of it, something ridiculous and campy and stupid.

Ladies and gentleman, we have a winner.

SUMMARY:

D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) leaves home to become a Musketeer and have awesome adventures. Unfortunately, the Musketeers have been disbanded due to a spectacularly failed op. Thankfully, however, D’Artagnan meets up with our three titular heroes, and after they all agree not to kill one another, they decide to stop evil Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) from plunging France into war with England.

Also, there are airships.

NOTES:

1. I’ve seen the 1993 version of The Three Musketeers a few times now, and it’s pretty ridiculously bad. I kind of like it anyway, for all that it is corny and awful, but it’s kind of a Disney trainwreck of complete and utter cheese; I can’t lie about that. Chris O’Donnell is very American and also hideously miscast. There is a guy who runs around for half the movie shrieking like a chicken. The motto, “All for one, and one for all,” is said way too many times for one movie, and crucifixes apparently stop bullets. It takes some doing to out-camp the 1993 version of The Three Musketeers.

Tim Curry plays an evil priest, for Christ's sake.

Well, Paul W.S. Anderson’s The Three Musketeers manages to do it. How, you might ask? Well, hair and wardrobe play a factor.

How do I not have this hat?

In some shots, Orlando Bloom's ridiculous pompadour is actually bordering on Sinister Mullet. Ooh, new band name.

Try to keep in mind that she's about to sprint past (and then slide through) a ridiculously elaborate booby-trapped corridor full of crossbows. Seriously. It's exactly the kind of thing you would see in an Indiana Jones movie.

But it’s not just costumes. There are also airship battles, The Matrix stylized fight scenes, the aforementioned ridiculous booby traps, and underwater ninja Musketeers. I swear, at one point early in the film, Athos is some weird combination of Snake Eyes from GI Joe and Martin Sheen from Apocalypse Now. Meanwhile, Aramis apparently wants to be Batman. And seriously, did I mention the booby traps?

Remember Entrapment? It's an awful lot like that, only with razor wire instead of lasers. Honestly, though? I'm a little surprised they didn't just go with lasers anyway.

2. Believe it or not, I’ve actually read The Three Musketeers. You know, once and about eleven years ago, but still. I had to go to my good friend Wikipedia to refresh a lot of the details in my mind, but I can actually see where both this version and the 1993 version pulled from—even though they left out some very big things that I will briefly discuss in the spoiler section just because I can.

Of course, there are additions as well. Like the blatantly anachronistic dialogue (“retro” and “sexy”) and, oh right, the dueling airships.

Honestly, it’s not just that they have airships or even airship battles that look an awful lot like the battles from Pirates of the Caribbean, only, you know, in the sky. It’s more that the bad guy’s pirate ship has, like, a giant skeleton on the front of it, with a nice, handy spot to hold young, helpless, blonde women too. It’s about as ridiculous as you can get. I’m a little sad that Black Sabbath didn’t abruptly start playing.

3. By the way, the airship? It’s often referred to as the “war machine.”

Um . . . am I in the wrong movie?

It was also apparently designed by da Vinci. Because of course it was. Fucking da Vinci, man. I don’t think I’ve ever been so sick of someone who’s been dead for centuries. You just wait till I get around to reviewing Ever After. I mean, Jesus.

4. The Three Musketeers also has kept up the fine tradition of casting every nationality but the French in their movie featuring primarily French characters. (Actually, the 1993 version did manage one French national: Julie Delpy as Constance.) In this film, we have Americans, Ukranian-Americans, English, Danish, Irish, Austrian, and I believe Welsh actors, but no French ones, at least no main ones. And also like its predecessor, the actors in The Three Musketeers make absolutely no attempt whatsoever to change their accents. In fact, the only person who appears to be throwing his voice at all is Orlando Bloom, which is hilarious because he’s the only British person playing a British person. (To be fair, I’m not certain that Bloom is actually trying for a different accent, other than, you know, the accent of Maliciously Evil. Which, admittedly, is one of my favorites.)

5. As far as acting goes, actually, everyone’s pretty much fine except Logan Lerman.

Yup. Fail, Percy Jackson. Total fail.

Most of the cast seems to be having a pretty good time hamming it up, particularly Orlando Bloom, who really just decides to fucking go for it and commit hard to his pompous, silly, little villain. I do feel like Christoph Waltz didn’t get quite the same opportunity to be as over-the-top and ridiculous, but his Richelieu is acceptable enough, if not quite as awesome as, say, Tim Curry. But Milla Jovovich is enjoyable as Milady, and Matthew MacFayden is appropriately broody as Athos, and Ray Stevenson is a lot of fun as Porthos (as he damn well oughta be, since Porthos is pretty much the Id of the film). The others—Luke Evans, Juno Temple, Mads Mikkelsen, Freddie Fox, Gabriella Wilde—play their respective parts well enough. Everyone does but Lerman.

The problem is one of charisma and, possibly, age. Of course, D’Artagnan is supposed to be a young guy, and Logan Lerman, all of twenty, is probably the right age to play him. But even though he’s kind of foolish and hot-tempered and has fairly poor decision-making skills, D’Artagnan really needs to be played by someone who has some form of presence, who can say things like “Only on Tuesdays” (in regards to if he’s always this cocky) and not look idiotic while saying them. You know, he should actually have confidence, appeal, swagger. Lerman might someday grow into these things, but in The Three Musketeers, all he has is flat delivery and bad hair. He makes Chris O’Donnell look positively genius by comparison, and I may have a soft spot for Chris O’Donnell and his pretty blue eyes, but D’Artagnan is not one of his better roles.

I suppose, to be fair, I should point out that O’Donnell’s hair in The Three Musketeers {93} looks even more ridiculous than Lerman’s.

Not unlike his former co-star George Clooney, Chris O'Donnell has DEFINITELY improved with age.

6. Richelieu plays chess. Of course he plays chess.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: someday, we’ll use checkers as the Big Metaphor for Life and/or Diabolical Plots. Or even Chutes N Ladders. Maybe Hungry Hungry Hippos.

"He who cannot give anything away cannot feel anything either." -Friedrich Nietzche

7. Finally, it’s clear just by how its shot that The Three Musketeers was influenced by all sorts of movies. (If you want to use the word “influenced” in place of “stealing”. It’s all very tricky.) But what about dialogue?

Compare . . .

"Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is either a fool or trying to sell you something."

. . . with . . .

"Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something."

And then

Wesley: “Give us the gate key.”
Yellin: “I have no gate key.”
Inigo: “Fezzik, tear his arms off.”
Yellin: Oh, you mean this gate key.”

. . . with . . .

Aramis: “Key.”
Dude: “What . . .”
(Aramis shoves Dude’s head under the water for a minute and then lets him back up.)
Dude: “You mean this key?”

For Christ’s sake, the ugly horse that might as well be a large dalmatian is named Buttercup. Buttercup! I’m all for clever homages, people but these kind of come across as lazy thefts.

If you would like more details on the madness that is The Three Musketeers, continue below . . .

SPOILERS FOR MOVIE AND NOVEL

SPOILERS FOR MOVIE AND NOVEL

SPOILERS FOR MOVIE AND NOVEL

SPOILERS FOR MOVIE AND NOVEL

SPOILERS FOR MOVIE AND NOVEL

Okay, so the movie begins with our three musketeers on a mission in Venice with Milady (Milla Jovovich). They’re out to find da Vinci’s war machine plans, which are hidden in his secret, super booby-trapped lair. Also, Milady and Athos (Matthew MacFayden) are in love. Or so Athos thinks, anyway.

Well, they get the plans, but oh noes! Milady double-crosses Athos and gives the plans over to the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom), who is not exactly what you might call a gracious winner. Buckingham has plenty of opportunity to kill the three Musketeers, but decides not to because . . . um . . . you know, I really can’t come up with any reasonable explanation for this oversight.

So, time passes. We go over to D’Artagnan, who is sparring with Daddy D’Artagnan before he goes off to Paris to become a Musketeer. This is noteworthy for a few different reasons. One, I am absolutely amazed that Daddy D’Artagnan doesn’t bite it. Not that, logically, he needs to for the plot. But . . . he tells his son he loves him. He gives advice about truly living life. He says, “I have nothing further to teach you.” I mean, I’m surprised a big brick didn’t fall from the sky and kill him right then and there.

Also kind of amusing: Mommy D’Artagnan’s all, “Don’t get into too many fights.” And Daddy D’Artagnan’s all, “No, get into fights. Get into all kinds of fights! Love! Live!” (That’s not a direct quote, but honestly, it might as well be.) And you’d think Mommy D’Artagnan would be all like, “Actually, sweetie, your father’s an idiot. Please don’t get into fights because, in this time period, that probably means you’ll end up skewered through the heart, especially considering how ridiculously hotheaded you are.” At the very least, you think she could look fondly disapproving. But no, she stands in the background, smiling as if her husband hadn’t just completely ignored her and told her son to throw himself in harm’s way. Honestly, she looks mildly brain damaged.

Well, anyway. D’Artagnan goes off to Paris. On the way, he makes enemies with evil Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen), who has the gall to insult his ugly Dalmatian horse. Of course, D’Artagnan wants to duel because he always wants to duel. Awesomely, Rochefort shoots him before he can even prepare, but sadly, Milady happens nearby and spares his life because she’s a sucker for a pretty face, or something. When D’Artagnan finally gets to his destination, he manages to piss off all three of the Musketeers in idiotic ways and sets up duels with all three. (My personal favorite is when he challenges Aramis for giving him a citation when Buttercup craps in the street. Like, what? Seriously?)

So, Aramis and D’Artagnan are about to start dueling, when Richelieu and the Cardinal’s guards try to arrest them. D’Artagnan surprises the Musketeers with his sword-fighting prowess, and the Musketeers easily best their opponents, despite the fact that they are completely outnumbered. Cardinal Richlieu wants the King (Freddie Fox) to punish the Musketeers, but Louis is a rather silly person, concerned more with fashion than ruling the kingdom, and he ends up commending the Musketeers for being awesome instead.

Richelieu concocts an evil plan to get Louis out of the way. He has Milady plant doctored love letters supposedly written by the Duke of Buckingham in the Queen’s room, and then has her steal the Queen’s necklace (hidden in a safe behind a truly crazy razor wire trap) so that she can plant it in Buckingham’s safe. When Anne fails to wear this necklace to some big ball the following week, it will be evidence of the affair, and Queen Anne (Juno Temple) will be dethroned. (And quite possibly beheaded. This is France, after all.) Then France and England will go to war, and the country will turn to Richelieu instead of their young, inexperienced, cuckolded king. I’m not actually sure this kind of plan would work as well in a monarchy as, say, a democracy where smear campaigns are all the rage, but I can’t bring myself to care all that much one way or the other.

The funny thing is, this plot line is taken directly from the source material, except that in the book, Queen Anne and the Duke of Buckingham are actually having an affair. D’Artagnan primarily goes to get the necklace back because he wants to impress Constance, a girl who works for the Queen. I mean, I’m sure he wants to avoid war too, but really, it’s all about looking like a badass for a woman.

But this movie wants nothing to do with moral ambiguity, so Anne is setup instead, and D’Artagnan and the Musketeers go to England. Milady knows they’re coming, so she and Buckingham scheme to stop them, but the Musketeers manage to steal Buckingham’s airship (war machine) anyway and capture Milady, who still has the diamonds. Athos, who has been very bitter and morose this whole movie, forces Milady to the edge of the airship and pulls his pistol on her. Milady gives Athos some kind of document that she keeps tucked inside her breasts (where she keeps pretty much everything) and falls backwards off the airship to her doom. Athos says that Milady did it for him, that she knew if he shot her, he could never actually forgive himself. And I’m like, dude, you were going to execute her one way or the other. I’m not saying you did anything wrong—she’s a traitor, and traitors get executed—but come on now. Just because she jumped backwards instead of waiting for you to shoot her backwards . . . it doesn’t really mean you weren’t responsible for her death. Honestly.

But this movie wants nothing to do with moral ambiguity or men shooting women, so . . .

Apparently, England has secretly been creating their own war machine as well, because Rochefort and his heavy metal airship come out of nowhere with Constance (Gabriella Wilde) strapped to the front. (She provided a distraction for the Musketeers earlier and was caught for her trouble.) D’Artagnan doesn’t know what to do, if he should choose love or country, and Athos, who is feeling better about life after watching his traitorous ex-lover plummet to her death, tells him to choose love, always choose love. Ugh. Fucking gag me.

So, D’Artagnan trades himself and the necklace for Constance. (In the novel, Constance actually gets murdered, although not by Rochefort on an airship. Actually, Milady’s the one who kills her, in a convent, no less. Milady is really not very nice at all.) Predictably, Rochefort knocks D’Artagnan out the second he crosses to their ship and opens fire on the Musketeers. There is a long, protracted battle that I can’t be bothered to describe right now, only that it ends with Rochefort’s ship crashing on top of some building or other. He and D’Artagnan fight for awhile, and despite the fact that Rochefort fights unfairly (just like Daddy D’Artagnan warned about; my, the foreshadow in this movie is so deep), D’Artagnan still wins and kills him.

The Musketeers crashland their airship right in front of the palace. The document that Milady gave Athos is almost the equivalent of a blank check. It basically says that the bearer of this document is working under the Cardinal’s authorization, which will teach Richelieu to be a bit more specific in the future. Richelieu is forced to go along with the lie that the damaged ship is, in fact, a present for the King that the evil Rochefort fired upon. D’Artagnan, meanwhile, has managed to pass the necklace to the Queen, so that Louis cannot doubt her virtue anymore.

Richelieu offers the Musketeers jobs—either because he’s impressed by their tenacity or, more likely, because he’s just trying to get a handle on the situation—but they refuse. Then it’s all for one and one for all, and the movie fades to black . . .

. . . but does not end. It turns out that Milady is alive! Shocking! Well, no, not really, not at all, but I was surprised to see that it was the Duke of Buckingham who rescued her. I just assumed her dress would secretly be a parachute or something. And sure, she fell a bazillion feet in the air, but she landed in water, so, you know, she’s cool. She just needed someone to give her a lift, really.

And the Duke of Buckingham? Well, he plans to go to war with France anyway, and he has quite the army of ships behind him.

Look what you did, da Vinci. Look what you did.

CONCLUSIONS:

If you are under the age of twelve, or you go in expecting this movie to be awful, you might enjoy yourself. If not, I’d stay clear. It doesn’t have much to recommend except sheer incredulity.

MVP:

Orlando Bloom

LVP:

Logan Lerman

TENTATIVE GRADE:

C

MORAL:

Love is the most important thing in life, until that person you love betrays you. Then they have to die. But after that, it’s all about love again!

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2 Responses to “It Was An Off Day.”

  1. Teacups says:

    As far as metaphorical board games go, I want someone to use Twister. Especially if it’s the villain and the hero playing as they have a tense but civil conversation about the villain’s evilness and the upcoming showdown and so on. As a bonus, it wouldn’t have to be limited to two people. It may have looked just a little inappropriate for the times, but in this movie they could’ve gotten all three of the Musketeers in there, and made D’Artagnan spin the thingy.

    My sympathies for you and your sister’s particularly crappy day, and I hope making fun of the movie cheered you both up again.

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