Disney's Dumbed Down Dumas
Disney's 1993 version of Dumas's "The Three Musketeers" is not a movie for those who are interested in the story but it is for those who want a dumbed down rollercoaster ride of swashbuckling action and some pretty looking stars. Other than the swordfights and the impeccably good looking actors, there is little substance to the movie which for me butchers a great adventure story in favour of improbable action. And as such it is disappointing, often funny for all the wrong reasons and when compared to the truly great "The Three Musketeers" from 1973 feels incredibly weak.
Wanting to become a Musketeer like his father young D'Artagnan (Chris O'Donnell - Scent of a Woman) heads to Paris only to find out that they have been disbanded by the nefarious Cardinal Richelieu (Tim Curry - Home Alone 2). He also manages to pick a fight with the last 3 Musketeer rebels Athos, Porthos, and Aramis (Sutherland, Platt & Sheen) but soon becomes friends when he helps them fight the evil Rochefort's (Michael Wincott - Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves) guards. When young D'Artagnan discovers that Cardinal Richelieu is planning to dethrone King Louis (Hugh O'Conor) he calls on the help of his new friends to stop him from succeeding.
The biggest problem when it comes to this Disney version of "The Three Musketeers" is that the writers and director decide to favour the action over the story. And that means we get one long action scene which is gloriously over the top in trying to find excitement, followed by a very forced scene where rather than let the storyline evolve you get one character telling another what has basically happened. For those who want to watch a movie for the story makes this version quite painful and basically one long series of action scenes. Of course it draws on the original storyline and you still get the amusement of young D'Artagnan finding himself scheduling duels with each of the three musketeers but the story elements end up taking a back seat.
As for the action, well it's good and there is a certain amount of excitement when you have stunts performed on horses or sword fights which appear to happen perilously close to the edge of a great drop. But because this version ends up being one action scene after another it begins to end up a bit repetitive and less of an adventure and just one big action slog. And in doing so that feeling of being swashbuckling is also lost because there is nothing really to differentiate one action scene from the next. They just work at one level and never really get more exciting as the movie goes on.
Another issue with this latest version of the classic tale is that it's not funny or not in the way it should be. It's a case that the jokes which are thrown into the script end up dull and miss able but then the cheesy dialogue ends up drawing more laughs. And the laughs also come from the fact that are handsome heroes battle with their enemies and pretty much come out of each skirmish without a hair out of place. You get a sense that Disney didn't want their star names to look in the least bit dishevelled and so we have this total falseness to it all.
And because of this fake ness it also feels like that all the stars held back in their performances with the exception of Oliver Platt who tries to make his version of Porthos as large as life as Oliver Reed made Athos in the 1973 version of "The Three Musketeers". As a whole the casting doesn't work with Chris O'Donnel coming across as too weak to be the feisty D'Artagnan and Charlie Sheen completely unsure how to play Aramis. But the most annoying thing is Tim Curry who is fabulous at playing sneering, nefarious villains is here as chief villain Cardinal Richelieu a limp baddie. In fact Tim Curry is out shone by Michael Wincott who at least makes Rochefort a nasty piece of work.
What this all boils down to is that Disney's 1993 "The Three Musketeers" is a disappointing movie. Because the focus of it is on the action it just becomes one long action sequence which doesn't really rise or fall because the action never really builds to a truly spectacular climax. And because of this focus the actual storyline takes a back seat and ends up feeling forced when delivered in the scenes which fill in the gaps between the action. To put it simply if you want to watch a great version of the story watch the brilliant 1973 "The Three Musketeers" rather than this one.