NEW YORK (CNS) — Catholic imagery abounds in “The Three Musketeers” (Summit), the latest remake of Alexandre Dumas’ durable costume epic of 17th-century swordsmanship, French patriotism and political treachery.
A quick inventory: Aramis (Luke Evans), a former priest, blesses himself and carries a rosary. D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) has a climactic swordfight with the Englishman Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen) on the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris — a sequence so overblown, one half-expects Quasimodo to pop out of his bell tower.
As always, there’s also the problematic Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz), who was, of course, the real-life prime minister to King Louis XIII and a practitioner of political intrigue with England and other powers.
The historical Richelieu was so complex that Dumas found it easier to reduce him to a cardboard villain, which is how he’s been played ever since — with an extra helping of ham. Waltz even twirls his moustache to drive home that point.
Anyway, director Paul W.S. Anderson and screenwriters Alex Litvak and Andrew Davies are so obsessed with in-your-face 3-D special effects as well as fighting by the musketeers (their initial number rounded out by Matthew Macfadyen as Athos and Ray Stevenson as Porthos), they have no more time than Dumas for the niceties of the past.
That becomes abundantly clear with the appearance of two — yes, two — anachronistic airships, one equipped with a flamethrower, no less.
Never will you see an Anno Domini 1625 this technically advanced!
As for the women who cross paths with our swashbucklers — including Milla Jovovich as the treacherous Milady de Winter — they barely count as window dressing.
Provided they don’t base their next essay for history class on it, mature adolescents can likely handle this material, despite the elements listed below.
The film contains fleeting crude and crass language, light sexual banter and highly stylized gun- and swordplay. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
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Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.