SINCE World WarII there have been four major English-language productions of Alexandre Dumas’s rollicking adventure yarn. It presses many escapist buttons, ticks many boxes. And it provides a golden opportunity for an actress to chill our blood as Milady.
But in those four productions, she has been cast and played as a sex-symbol rather than as the epitome of selfish wickedness.
Paul Anderson’s version offers Mila Jovovich as Milady. Nothing more need be said about this. The screenplay by Alex Litvak and Andrew Davies takes the view that its target audience is adolescent boys. The trio has conspired to convert Dumas’s historical imagination into a 21st century fantasy influenced by the brain-curdling dumbness of TV series.
Its modern vocabulary and melding of early-17th century military technology with that of our era do little honour to the original.
Silly more than stupid, the film’s offence against Dumas is not beyond redemption, however. Its makers don’t demand that people accept it solely on Dumas’s terms. They understood how a diet of moving images rich in contrivance defeating credibility has created a generation with cerebral obesity. This makes me sad. Having to watch it in 3D merely made me angry. And Faye Dunaway’s Milady in Richard Lester’s 1974 production will be hard to beat.
At Greater Union, Hoyts and Limelight