Genre: Mythical Fantasy Action-Adventure
Starring: Logan Lerman, Matthew Macfadyen, Luke Evans, Ray Stevenson, Milla Jovovich, Mads Mikkelsen, Christoph Waltz, Gabriella Wilde, Juno Temple and Orlando Bloom as The Duke Of Buckingham.
Running Time: 110 mins. approx.
Seen At: Didsbury
On: Saturday, 15th October, 2011.
After numerous adaptations, with stars including Richard Chamberlin, Oliver Reed and Christopher Lee each seen portraying one of the infamous Musketeers, audiences finally have the first cinematic version of the tale that ventures into the revolutionary third dimension.
This is a huge-scale, effects-laden, blockbusting take on the classic, and while it may not always be entirely historically accurate (customized airships with built-in flamethrowers), it is brilliant fun from start to finish. Every artistic element is inventive, from the toy-town-inspired opening credits sweeping through a gigantic map, to its utterly unique use of the much-maligned 3D.
Many films either completely over-use the tool, with the result often a blurry mixture of indistinction constantly being flung at the audience, or fail to include it nearly enough, not realizing it’s full potential.
Here however, the perfect balance is struck between allowing just enough surprising moments for it to flourish (whether it be for showing the intricate motion of a booby-trap, a slow-motion close-up on an approaching cannonball, or the staggering sight of guards on mass), but always allowing it breathing space.
It’s enhanced further by an extremely effective technique known as: ‘speed-ramping’ – which means to either frantically speed-up or suddenly slow down the action, simultaneously (this works particularly well during the many great sword-fighting sequences).
The basic narrative structure remains about the only aspect that hasn’t changed. The once-heroic Athos (a straight-laced Matthew Macfadyen) Porthos (a brawny Ray Stevenson) and Aramis (a cool Luke Evans) are brought to the fore once again, with young protégé D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) to defeat a quartet of dastardly villains – three of which are the Cardinal (Christoph Waltz), a conniving, beautiful and deadly seductress (Milla Jovovich) and the mysterious, eye-patched Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen).
The predominant villain is the Duke of Buckingham. The role makes for a triumphant return to the big screen for Orlando Bloom (this is his first mainstream blockbuster in four years, since finishing on the colossally successful Pirates of the Caribbean franchise in 2007). It’s well-worth the wait however, as he completely steals the show – relishing being so evil for once, in his fluorescently green, blue, and puce pantaloons. He twirls his mustache with glee in one of the truly great, Oscar-worthy performances of the year. It so easily could have descended into pantomime, but he skillfully plays it the absolute fun side of menacing, with some great one-lines: ‘Look at what the cat dragged in!’. Make sure you wait until the very final shot to discover his, and another character’s fate, with a conclusion that so clearly sets it up for a sequel and hopefully even a franchise. Amusing, exhilarating, gloriously colourful, of epic proportions and with its tongue firmly lodged in its cheek, this is one of the most surprising and very best films of the year!
Rating: * * * * *