One of my favorite movies of all time is David Lester's The Three Musketeers from 1973. You know the one; stars Michael York, Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlain, Raquel Welch, Faye Dunnaway, Christopher Lee and Charleton Heston. Among others. Great movie. One of the best adaptations of probably the most adapted movie of all time. Since that time, we've seen mostly forgettable adaptaions from 1993, with Chris O'Donnell as D'Artagnan, a semi-wire-fu very loose adaptation called The Musketeer from 2001, which I barely remembered even now, a 2004 animated version starring Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy as the three musketeers, which features very little of the original plot, and most recently, a Paul W. S. Anderson Matrix-like adaptation that just came out this last weekend. It had a disappointing weekend (I think, anyway) opening at #4 for just under $9 domestically, although it's already made over $73 M worldwide, and will no doubt prove to have been a profitable venture.
Although my expectations for the movie were never too high, they actually plummeted significantly when I realized Paul W. S. Anderson was the director. While I've never seen the Resident Evil movies, they never really looked all that great. And Mortal Kombat and Alien vs. Predator and his other movies had some good moments, but were largely kinda forgettable and dull. I actually think the new adaptation, The Three Musketeers that just came out, may be his best movie yet. That doesn't mean that it's a great adaptation, but it's a reasonably fun one, and it actually does a decent job of following the plot of the novel, all things considered.
The king, while still useless, is made surprisingly likeable. Buckingham is more of a villain that the Cardinal in many ways. D'Artagnan is surprisingly less likeable in many ways than anyone else in the cast, as kind of a jerky mouth-off. Constance is vacuous, but very pretty. Rochefort is not played by a young Christopher Lee, and partly because of that, he ends up being too over-the-top and hammish. My wife and I both rolled our eyes when Countess de Winter was fished out of the English Channel after plummeting to what should have been her certain death from a good thousand feet up. And the notion of these balloon warships is really just pretty silly; all it takes is a good shot or two to the balloon itself and the whole thing comes plummeting to the ground, killing all on board.
That said, the movie was pretty much everything I hoped it would be. Based on the preview, I didn't hope that it would stand alongside David Lester's adaptation as a fairly serious version of the story. I expected it to be silly, over-the-top, shallow, and most of all, I expected it to be fun. It was all of those. It exceeded my expectations. In fact, I'm already plotting to go see it again, this time with the kids.