The Pirates of the Parisian Sky

2011-10-17 00:00

THE 2011 film version of The Three Musketeers in 3-D is not simply a reboot of the popular Alexandre Dumas novel; it’s rather a complete refashioning of the original story that has a lot in common with Pirates of the Caribbean.

In fact, calling The Three Musketeers “The Pirates of the Parisian Sky” would probably resonate more meaningfully with younger audiences. At times the looting of iconic scenes from the past 15 years of action-adventure cinema (e.g. The Matrix and 300) pushes the film into the realm of parody.

Purists are likely to despise the film for its liberties and yes, introducing exotic floating airships into the plot untethers it from its source material.

Any logical historical links The Three Musketeers had are rendered as spurious details; rather, a campy Disneyesque tone infuses the film like the aforementioned Pirates.

The way to approach this film is to forget any nostalgia that you may have for its origins and rather to enjoy it as a swashbuckling adventure story.

At this level it is entertaining and the swordplay benefits from contemporary special effects and fighting styles, although, I have to say, Douglas Fairbanks is still my favorite master duellist.

These days the athleticism and skill of the old stars are replaced by rapid editing that is impressionistic.

One is left with a vague sense of unease, having been hoodwinked into believing you saw something that never really happened.

The plot is fairly simple. D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman), a young hothead, sets off for Paris in order to hook up with the legendary musketeers — Aramis (Luke Evans), Porthos (Ray Stevenson) and Athos (Matthew Macfadyen). Unbeknown to them, a beautiful double agent, Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich), and Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) are plotting to overthrow the French royal family by plunging Europe into war.

The diabolical plan can only be averted if the musketeers retrieve the royal family jewels.

The setup is hokum, but by the midway stage the film hits its groove, relying more on action set-pieces than on its threadbare humour.

The 3D presentation is well thought out, revealing the stunning locations like Versailles (actually a Bavarian castle) in all their Viewfinder glory.

This offsets to some degree the solid cast who are unable to transcend their simply written archetypes.

This is no classic and Dumas fans should stay away. That said, lovers of the Disneyesque swashbuckler are likely to find it fun. ***

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