For obvious reasons, I kinda have the number "three" on the brain right now. And that means it's finally time for me to review Disney's The Three Musketeers, which once upon a time was my favorite movie ever.
The silent adaptation from 1921, starring Douglas Fairbanks Sr., is a good film, probably the best Three Musketeers film behind the one I'm reviewing today, but it only adapts the first third of the book. The 1948 adaptation I already reviewed crammed most of they story into a two hour film, and it felt badly rushed as a result. Richard Lester made a smart decision to split the story in half, giving us The Three Musketeers (1973) and The Four Musketeers (1974), but his inclusion of broad slapstick comedy contrasted sharply with the second film's more dramatic moments, resulting in serious mood whiplash (a problem I also had with the 1948 film). So I can see why filmmakers might be tempted to stray more from the source material, and I'm okay with that - within certain limits. (Airships, Paul W. S. Anderson? Seriously?)
Our story takes place in France in the 1620s, supposedly under the benevolent rule of the young, naive King Louis XIII (Hugh O'Connor), newly married to Anne of Austria (Gabrielle Anwar). However, Cardinal Richelieu (Tim Curry) is the one with the real power, and the people of France suffer under his covert tyranny, despite the best efforts of the royal couple. Meanwhile, d'Artagnan (Chris O'Donnell) is off to Paris to follow in his late father's footsteps and become a musketeer, depicted in the film as the king's personal bodyguards. His timing is unfortunate, as Richelieu has manipulated the king into disbanding the musketeers, supposedly in preparation for a pending war with England. Three of them, however - Athos (Kiefer Sutherland), Porthos (Oliver Platt), and Aramis (Charlie Sheen) - have refused to resign their commissions and are now hunted by Richelieu's minions, including Captain Rochefort (Michael Wincott). Naturally, d'Artagnan ends up picking fights with all three of them, but he impresses them when he helps them fight off a group of the Cardinal's guards. Despite their victory, though, d'Artagnan ends up captured by Richelieu's men. While in captivity, d'Artagnan learns of Richelieu's scheme to put himself on the throne by forging an alliance with England's Duke of Buckingham, and the cardinal dispatches the seductive Countess de Winter (Rebecca de Mornay) to England with the treaty. After being rescued by our titular trio, d'Artagnan and his new comrades in arms must race the clock to thwart the cardinal and protect the king. Much awesomeness ensues thereafter.
'Till next time!