I was pretty much guaranteed to like this movie: it has skyships, the three musketeers, some steampunk elements, and Milla Jovovich. I know it’s possible for a modern director to cock up even this basic a combination of win, but I feel that this movie managed to pass muster. The plot is simple and direct, the musketeers are fairly reasonable interpretations of the original, the swashbuckling is excellent fun, and the humour is modern but not stupidly modern. Even Orlando Bloom manages to do a good job, perhaps taking his first turn as a bad guy.
The movie has a nice mix of modern innovations and homage to the original. Mill Jovovich’s Milady is the most obvious modern innovation: she has a corsetry ninja outfit with steampunk Mission Impossible-style rappeling ropes, mad ninja fighting skills, an extremely brazen air and a very athletic style. I don’t remember the original stories having any female characters like that. She’s also powerfully in charge of her own destiny. On the other hand, D’Artagnan is straight from the original text and – to the best of my memory, anyway – the manner of his meeting the three musketeers is just as I remember in the book. The choice to portray D’Artagnan as a kind of rural American chump – he often reminded me of Jason Stackhouse from True Blood – was an excellent one, since that is kind of how I thought of him compared to the elegance and worldliness of his peers. The three musketeers themselves are excellent – my favorite was Porthos, but my partner liked Athos – and carry the story well. In fact, in many ways it seems quite faithful to the original.
The big deviation, of course, and the reason I was likely to enjoy it all the more, was the skyships. These enter the movie about halfway through and are both stylish and sufficiently stupid, as well as offering an excellent swashbuckling platform. They have rotating mini-cannon, flame throwers and grenades, and of course they’re ultimately extremely fragile and our heroes, having never seen one before, can immediately fly one, as well as think up cunning plans involving skyship shenanigans. Which is good, because pretty much any historical movie is going to be improved by skyship shenanigans, and this one certainly was.
If you want a good, solid session of swashbuckling, with Milla Jovovich and skyships for further enhancement, then I strongly recommend this movie. It’s a very enjoyable romp through the skies and streets of Europe with four worthy musketeers and their very enjoyable adversaries, and well worth an hour and a half of your time.