The Three Musketeers: Special Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
March 4, 2012 by Dennis Amith
“The Three Musketeers” is an action-packed film that features impressive special effects, wonderful costume design, set design and a fast-paced storyline. It’s definitely not the same “Three Musketeers” that many have grew up with in the past but a modernized, reboot of the characters for a new generation of moviegoers who love popcorn action films.
TITLE: The Three Musketeers: Special Edition
FILM RELEASE: 2011
DURATION: 110 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:35:1 aspect ratio), English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Espanol, Dolby Digital 5.1, Subtitles: English SDH
COMPANY: Constantin Film/Summit Entertainment
RATED: PG-13 (Sequences of Adventure Action Violence)
Release Date: March 13, 2012
Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson
Screenplay by Alex Litvak, Andrew Davies
Based on the novel “Les Trois Mousquetaires” by Alexandre Dumas Pere
Produced by Paul W. S. Anderson, Jeremy Bolt, Robert Kulzer
Co-Produced by Christoph Fisser, Rory Gilmartin, Charlie Woebcken
Executive Producer: Martin Moszkowicz
Line Producer: Silvia Tollmann
Original Music by Paul Haslinger
Cinematography by Glen MacPherson
Edited by Alexander Berner
Casting by Suzanne Smith
Production Design by Paul D. Austerberry
Matthew Macfadyen as Athos
Milla Jovovich as Milady de Winter
Luke Evans as Aramis
Helen George as Blonde
Christian Oliver as Venetian Nobleman
Ray Stevenson as Porthos
Christoph Waltz as Cardinal Richelieu
Til Schweiger as Cagliostro
Markus Brandl as Sergeant Venetian Guard
Orlando Bloom as Duke of Buckingham
Logan Lerman as D’Artagnan
Mads Mikkelsen as Rochefort
Freddie Fox as Ling Louis XIII of France
Carsten Norgaard as Jussac
Gabriella Wilde as Constance
James Corden as Planchet
Juno Temple as Queen
A modern retelling of Alexander Dumas’ timeless swashbuckling classic – arrives on 3D Blu-ray™, Blu-ray and DVD March 13th from Summit Entertainment. This exciting adventure for the whole family stars Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson & the Olympians), Orlando Bloom (Pirates of the Caribbean films), Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil films) and Academy Award®-winner Christoph Waltz (Best Supporting Actor, Inglourious Basterds).
Since the 1800’s, the tale of “The Three Musketeers” has entertained generation after generation.
Beginning with the novel by Alexandre Dumas, the 17th century tale would feature a young man named d’Artagnan leaving home to join the Musketters of the Guard which consisted of Athos, Porthos and Aramis.
And within this last century, there have been musicals, films, games and animated TV series based on the characters featured in the novel.
But as the story has been retold countless times, there was no doubt that the story of the Three Musketeers would receive a film adaptation and for filmmaker W.S. Anderson (“Death Race”, “AVP: Aliens vs. Predator”, “Resident Evil” films), in order for the story not too be to banal or boring, and attract a new generation of viewers, it was time to change things up by tweeking the storyline and also modernizing it.
And so, screenwriters Alex Litvak (“Predators”) and Andrew Davies (“Bridget Jones’s Diary”, “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason”) would be responsible in giving audiences a new fresh storyline featuring the Three Musketeers and the characters created by Alexandre Dumas.
The 2011 film would feature cinematography by Glen MacPherson (“Rambo”, “Resident Evil: Afterlife”) and music by Paul Haslinger (“Underworld: Awakening”, “Death Race 2”, “Crank”). And while this big budget film would utilize modern technology for CG, Paul W.S. Anderson also wanted realism and that was to create actual sets of the airships, to shoot in Bavaria for its use of French and Italian architecture and also for its talent to undergo swordfighting bootcamp.
The film would earn over $135 million in the box office worldwide and now the film will be released on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Summit Entertainment in March 2012.
“The Three Musketeers” begins with Athos (played by Matthew Macfadyen, “Death at a Funeral”, “Frost/Nixon”, “Pride & Prejudice”), Porthos (played by Ray Stevenson, “Thor”, “Punisher: War Zone”, “King Arthur”) and Aramis (played by Luke Evans, “Clash of the Titans”, “Robin Hood”, “Immortals”) who are joined by Athos girlfriend, Milady de Winter (played by Milla Jovovich, “Resident Evil” films, “The Fifth Element”) in Venice.
The four are trying to steal airship blueprints that were create by Leonardo da Vinci.
And all appears to go well for the group as they manage to steal the blueprints and to celebrate, Milady presents the men with a glass of wine. Unbeknown to them, the wine has been spiked and she reveals that what the did is essentially a business transaction and tells Athos that the Duke of Buckingham (played by Orlando Film, “Lord of the Rings” films, “The Pirates of the Caribbean” films) has paid her much more for obtaining the blue prints.
The Duke shows up to criticize his longtime rival that he wins (and also has won over his girlfriend).
And when the trio arrive to France, the Musketeers are disbanded by Cardinal Richelieu (played by Christoph Waltz, “Inglorious Basterds”, “The Green Hornet”) due to their failure.
A year later, we are introduced to a young man named D’Artagnan (played by Logan Lerman, “The Butterfly Effect”, “3:10 to Yuma”). His father was an original Musketeer and is now leaving the village of Gascony to Paris in hopes that he can join the group.
When D’Artagnan arrives in Paris, he takes offense to comments made by Captain Rochefort (played by Mads Mikkelsen, “Casino Royale”, “Clash of the Titans”, “King Arthur”), the leader of Richelieu’s guard, about his horse and wants an apology. The Captain refuses to apologize and the hot temper of D’Artagnan leads him to challenging the Captain in a swordfight. But instead of fighting with swords, Rochefort fires two bullets at him and knocks the young man down. And as Rocherfort is about to kill him, he is rescued by the arrival of Milady de Winter, who requests the Captain to not hurt him.
Embarrassed by what has taken place, D’Artagnan wants revenge against Rochefort and runs after him. But while pursuing him, he runs into Athos, Porthos and Aramis and his ego leads him to challenging each of the three to a due, but its not until each man gathers that D’Artagnan realizes that these are the Three Musketeers.
But hardheaded as he is, D’Artagnan wants to prove himself to the men, so he prepares to fight them in a duel. But immediately, the are stopped by the guards for having an illegal duel on the public street and as each men are to be arrested, D’Artagnan gets into a fight with the guard and the Three Musketeers join him.
While fighting, D’Artagnan meets the beautiful Constance (played by Gabriella Wilde, “St. Trinian’s II: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold” “Il Maestro”) and tries to get to know her better, but she is not interested in being with a brash man who doesn’t understand how to behave in Paris.
D’Artagnan along with the Three Musketeers have beaten the guards but because their actions are quite severe, they are to be punished by King Louis XIII of France (played by Freddie Fox, “St. Trinian’s II: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold”).
Cardinal Richelieu asks the king to execute the four men but instead, the King is impressed that the four took out 40 of the guard and ends up congratulating them and even offering them new clothes.
And for the King, his mind is more focused on how to woo his wife, Queen Anne (played by Juno Temple, “Year One”, “Atonement”, “Mr. Nobody”) as the two were married as part of an arranged marriage but the two have not had a loving relationship and the King does want one. And he often talks to D’Artagnan about needing advice of how he can attract Queen Anne’s affection.
His mind is also on the arrival of the Duke of Buckingham.
Unbeknown to the King, the Duke of Buckingham, Milady de winter and Cardinal Richelieu are working together. And the plan is for them to put fake love letters that were supposedly written by Queen Anne to the Duke of Buckingham and make the King think the two have a secret romance and also to steal the Queen’s diamond necklace. With this treachery, they hope that King Louis would execute Queen Anne and declare war on England.
But Constance has discovered their plan and she goes to D’Artagnan for his help in assisting the Queen and bringing back the diamond necklace which is in Milade de Winter’s possession.
And because Constance has declared her love for D’Artagnan, he will do what he can to retrieve the diamonds and for the Three Musketeers, this may be the chance for them to get revenge on Milady de Winter but also their nemesis, the Duke of Buckingham.
Can the four retrieve the diamonds in less than five days? And what will happen when Athos comes face-to-face with the woman that had betrayed him?
“The Three Musketeers” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1) and as one would expect for a big budget action film, the film looks absolutely beautiful. For one, there are a lot of vibrant colors featured in the outdoor scenes, but it’s the location of shooting in Bavaria that lends to the film feeling it’s 17th Century and most importantly, CG that helps compliment in the recreation of that world.
The production and set design, along with costume design is magnificent and on HD, you are able to see the detail of the clothing, to the sparks flying when the metal swords are striking each other and also seeing the clarity and detail of the surroundings of the area. The CG work is quite impressive and for the most part, this is a vibrant and well-detailed film.
I didn’t notice any edge enhancement, artifacts or banding while watching this film. Colors are vibrant, black levels are nice and deep and overall, this film looks beautiful on Blu-ray!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“The Three Musketeers” is presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Espanol Dolby Digital 5.1.
As one can expect from an action film, not only do you get immersive sound during the action sequences, the music composed by Paul Haslinger sounds wonderful. First, the action sequences. From the clanging of swords, cannon balls being shot from airship to airship, explosions galore and wonderful panning from right to left, left to right. And while the second half does feature most of that immersive sound during the action sequences, dialogue and music is crystal clear as well.
Subtitles are presented in English SDH.
“The Three Musketeers” comes with the following special features:
- Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director and producer Paul W.S. Anderson and two other producers as they dissect the film, why they modernized the film to what they were most impressed by the making of the film, finding the location and the performances by their talent but also what the crew was able to pull off. Overall, an in-depth and enjoyable audio commentary.
- Access: Three Musketeers – While watching the film, you can have access to “making of” videos, cast and crew info., factoids and also a body count meter.
- Paul W. S. Anderson’s Musketeers – (2:29) Director Anderson talks about modernizing the film, location of where to shoot and more.
- Orlando Bloom: Takes on the Duke – (1:59) Orlando Bloom and Director Anderson talk about the character of Duke of Buckingham.
- 17th Century Air Travel – (2:20) Director Paul W.S. Anderson talks about modernizing the air ships and having sets built rather than creating it all on CG.
- Uncovering France in Germany – (2:14) Shooting in Bavaria and why they chose the location.
- Deleted and Extended Scenes – (14:38) Featuring 12 extended and deleted scenes.
“The Three Musketeers” come with a slipcover case.
“The Three Musketeers” have entertained generation after generation for over 150 years.
But for those of us who grew up watching “The Three Musketeers” in cinema or cartoons, while the swashbuckling swordsman storylines were great decades ago, for this society use to immersive video game playing, big budget special effects and heroes that have a “cool factor”, bringing “The Three Musketeers” to a new generation is rather tricky.
Bring in director Paul W.S. Anderson, known for action films such as the “Resident Evil” films, “Death Race” and “AVP: Alien vs. Predator” and a person who is willing to modernize and give a refreshing perspective to the storyline but also targeting this new generation who may have passed on reading or watching anything that would have to do with “The Three Musketeers”.
And while listening to the audio commentary by Paul W.S. Anderson and him describing a scene which was inspired by the video game “Assassins Creed II”, I knew immediately that he’s going after an audience who loves their popcorn action, an audience who loves special effects and of course, having the beautiful Milla Jovovich in another action role does not hurt at all.
But with that being said, Anderson is known for popcorn action films and in no way or form was he going to recreate the films that were made in the past. This was going to be straight-up action like his previous films and for those who are familiar with his work, you know what you’re going to get.
First the positives. What I enjoyed about “The Three Musketeers” was the fact that Paul W.S. Anderson wanted to make D’Artagnan as he was in the original book, an older teenager. I also liked the fact that he shot in Bavaria and instead of sets created or CG buildings, we are seeing the actual architecture of long ago featured in a film. Granted, to recreate popular buildings in Paris, there was CG used but still, there is no denying that this film looks good, from its design, set design and even the costume design.
Another positive is the fact that Anderson wanted to achieve realism by having the talent undergo bootcamp and learn how to use a sword. This went for several months and it shows in the film. Another is building sets, especially the airships and then using CG when needed, but not use CG to completely build the airships. So, that was a positive touch.
Also, the characters seem rather fun, especially having Orlando Bloom and Milla Jovovich as the antagonists. It was great to see everyone also belittle the servant Planchet and if anything, this was a good popcorn action film that delivered in action and special effects.
The bad news which may be bad for those familiar with the series is that this is not the same Three Musketeers that many people grew up with. While the Three Musketeers are featured in the film, this is a story primarily focused on D’Artagnan and some may feel the ego and bravado was a bit too overbearing.
Some may also roll their eyes of the modernization of the film. With people battling with airships, yes…17th century wooden ships that are flying in the sky with blimps using Leonardo da Vinci’s blueprints.
And last, a storyline that is driven to action scene after action scene while the storyline is there, it’s more to boost its action sequences. Swordfights, airship fights, etc.
And for those who want a cinematic experience with strong characters with awesome character development and a deep, intellectual storyline, this film is not it. Once again, look at Paul W. S. Anderson’s oeuvre and you know that he is a director that specializes in action films and he rarely deviates from that.
I personally have enjoyed Anderson’s “Resident Evil” films and I usually know what I’m going to get with his films and with “The Three Musketeers”, it was what I expected, a popcorn action film set in the 17th century with modernization and plenty of action and I enjoyed it to the point where I hope there is a sequel. I never came to this film expecting anything deep or cerebral because I was familiar with Anderson’s work and in a sense, his storyline does play to a new generation of audiences who enjoy popcorn action films with plenty of special effects and fighting such as “The Pirates of the Last Caribbean”, “Resident Evil”, “Alien vs. Predator”, “Transformers”, etc.
As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is fantastic. Colors are vibrant, detail is amazing and the film looks great on Blu-ray and I can say the same about the lossless audio. Great use of panning of audio from the surround channels, plenty of immersive action sequences that fill up the soundscape and dialogue and music is crystal clear. And also you get plenty of special features, although I tend to not like “making of” being offered by watching the movie a second time. I prefer to have these separated. But it is subjective and that is my own personal preference.
Is it keeper? One may want to rent it first to see if it’s for them, but for those who enjoy Paul W.S. Anderson films or action films in general, it may be an action film they may want to have in their Blu-ray collection.
Overall, “The Three Musketeers” is an action-packed film that features impressive special effects, wonderful costume set design and a fast-paced storyline. It’s definitely not the same “Three Musketeers” that many have grew up with in the past but a modernized, reboot of the characters for a new generation of moviegoers who love popcorn action films.
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