Hum, OK. Mostly I went to see this movie because friends dragged me, because it would normally be pretty low on my list of things to watch. I have to say, before we get into the snark, that the spirit of it (the ridiculous caper, casual adaptation of history to suit the plot and general sense of fun) would actually have pleased Dumas quite a bit, I think. Also, I didn’t expect to quite like Matthew Macfadyen quite that much in the role of Athos (way better than Kiefer Sutherland in the Disney 1993 version).
Now that the good is out of the way…
Well, it would have been nice if the movie hadn’t quite been so ridiculous, or quite so predictable–or, indeed, quite so creative with, you know, actual French history and geography? I don’t know where the French court is supposed to be, and clearly the movie is in a state of terminal hesitation as to whether it should be the Louvre or Versailles (the placement with regards to Paris sort of looks like a badly located Louvre, but the actual shots suggest Versailles). Which is interesting considering that Versailles was a nice hunting lodge in the middle of the woods at the time Louis XIII was on the throne.
Also, about those nice opening shots on dark green hills with huge, twisted trees that have seen many winters? All I have to say is: Gascony. As in, south of France. Sun-drenched, mild winters, wonderful light, all that is patently missing from said shots. (I think this was shot in Bavaria, and boy, does it show).
And finally, I do want to point out that “musketeers” means one definite thing that the scriptwriters chose to completely ignore: a “musketeer” is a guy with a musket. Someone who used the very first (and admittedly unreliable) firearms of French warfare. You do NOT get to present musketeers as some kind of nostalgic uber-swordsmen set aside by the march of progress. They’re not that. They were never that, and the original novel is indeed pretty clear on the fact that musketeers are called to the war front at La Rochelle, and that they must have their equipment, which includes the firearms.
Other than that… The movie was full of the usual Hollywood conceits that realism should be thrown out the window in the service of good storytelling (whatever that means): I’m sorry, but you cannot swim in the canals of Venice, and then fire crossbows in the minute that follows (your weapon mechanism is probably completely clogged by then). You do not plummet from admidst cloud-cover height into the sea and survive: at this altitude, the sea is going to hit you like a concrete block. For that matter, you do not swim in full court clothes (which would have included very cumbersome underwear in addition to all the frills).
I’ll skip over the usual casting of the Cardinal as the villain plotting to take over France, all the skimpy fan-service that the script parades in the person of Milady, because it’s only predictable from that kind of movie (if really sad); but I’ll admit some final puzzlement as to what the heck all the maps and little figurines were doing in the movie? They were grossly inaccurate in most cases (bonus points especially for the “presentation” of the European politics just after the title roll, which wins a prize for getting absolutely nothing right of the 1625-1633 geopolitics), and they made the movie look like it was made by a really clueless Warhammer adddict.
But that’s not the worst thing. No, the worst thing is the last five minutes or so of the movie, which promise a sequel.
Excuse me while I go tear my hair out, and start a search of a decent movie adaptation of the novel… (any recs welcome, btw. I could use good movies)