The Three Musketeers: How to Fix This Movie

I didn’t expect The Three Musketeers to be a good film. Some guys in 17th century(ish) France fight a lot with swords, check! Milla Jovovich, check! That was all I had on my agenda.

I’m also no film scholar. I took one film class in undergrad and all I remember is to pay attention to Alfred Hitchcock’s camera angles because they are often amazing. However, any person on the street who has seen even a handful of films could easily offer a handful of suggestions on how to improve, because wow, there was a lot of room for improvement.

For example:

Replace all the music. If I want to be hit over the head with a shovel by someone screaming THIS IS DRAMATIC, I don’t have to pay $10 and drive to north Austin. We have a shovel in the garage and I can probably get someone to do that for free as long as I let them film it and upload it to YouTube. Seriously, people, you used up the “stirring” quota for this and any possible sequels by the time D’Artagnan was leaving home for Paris, which is to say before anything stirring had a chance to happen

Knock off the fat hate. If you want to sell me some good guys who drink too much, have a tendency towards picking fights, and can’t find any productive way to occupy themselves if there isn’t a war on, I can probably come with you. If you’re also going to include them relentlessly verbally abusing their servant, James Corden’s Planchet, because it’s supposed to be funny (?), then I would rather go clean my aforementioned garage. Don’t tell me that the actor’s size had nothing to do with the casting here. I’m sure it was deliberate, filmmakers, and I’m sure it was because you thought it would be more hi-larious if the “comic figure” (read: victim) were fat. Fuck you. Also note that the Musketeers are the king’s own guards, however down on their luck financially, and they’re picking on a man who’s working as a servant. That to me says rich guys picking on poor guy. So double fuck you.

More Milady working for herself… and more than two minutes of Queen Anne. The time period they’re (loosely) referencing was one where men held most of the power, but Jovovich’s Milady spent an excessive amount of time bouncing from one man to another. Given her formidable skills as spy, thief, and assassin, I’d have liked her to be a player in the game, not just a tool for others to use. Juno Temple as Queen Anne completely nailed her “young and scared, but not a pushover” performance during a confrontation with Christoph Waltz’s Cardinal Richlieu. Why didn’t we get more of that? She and the King were besieged on all sides, young and inexperienced – but if she had that kind of steel, why couldn’t we see her actually use it? Heck, lady in waiting Constance (Gabriella Wilde) had to figure out a plan for how to save everything once Anne’s two minutes of fame were over. (And her plan included kiss a guy to motivate him, risk her life as a distraction so the Muskeeters can escape, and get tied to the masthead of a ship as the damsel in distress. That middle one was okay.)

If the movie hadn’t included the Musketeers picking on Planchet, I still might have given it a reasonably high rating. The female characters do have spines, and have their own personalities, even if they live in a world that revolves heavily around the actions of men. Milady is a badass, though the scene where for NO APPARENT REASON she strips down to her underwear did leave a bad taste in my mouth. When I say “for no apparent reason” I really mean it, because in all her previous action scenes she was doing exactly the same stuff but in full dress. And while I’m sure there were probably some Moors in Paris in the time period of this film, I’m not going to pick on it for being a white cast. Especially because if a person of color had showed up, it probably wouldn’t have gone well.

However, the Musketeers’ behavior towards Planchet just poisoned the film for me. I’ll give it one star for Milla, and that’s it.

(Whether or not you’ve seen the film, or plan to, you may enjoy At The Movies: The Three Musketeers, or Markgraf Loses It on Bad Reputation. It’s a more coherent overall look at the film, and I especially liked the part about glitter.)

This post was originally published on Heroine Content, a feminist and anti-racist movie blog that ran from July 2006 to May 2012.