Thursday Trailer Face-Off! The Three Musketeers vs. Sherlock Holmes 2




Welcome to Thursday Trailer Face-Off, a feature in which we cast a critical eye on two similar upcoming film releases, pitting them against each other across a variety of categories to determine which is most deserving of your two hours. This week: the battle of the hilariously unfaithful adaptations of once-highbrow, now-public-domain period adventure stories. It’s The Three Musketeers vs. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows!








Here are the plot summaries, courtesy of the movies’ official websites. In The Three Musketeers, “The hot-headed young D’Artagnan joins forces with three rogue Musketeers in this reboot of Alexandre Dumas’ story. They must stop the evil Richlieu [sic] and face off with Buckingham and the treacherous Milady. The action adventure is given a state of the art update in 3-D.” As for Sherlock, “When the Crown Prince of Austria is found dead, the evidence, as construed by Inspector Lestrade, points to suicide. But Sherlock Holmes deduces that the prince has been the victim of murder—a murder that is only one piece of a larger and much more portentous puzzle, designed by one Professor Moriarty.” We’ll give this one to Sherlock for a slightly more nuanced summary than “some good guys fight a bad guy!” Advantage: Sherlock Holmes 2

The most notable names in The Three Musketeers are Orlando Bloom, who plays the Duke of Buckingham, and Christoph Waltz, as the devious Cardinal Richelieu. (Won’t someone give Christoph Waltz a nice, middle-aged dad character to play one of these days? Just to see if he could handle it?) They’re also obviously pushing to turn it into the breakout role for Logan Lerman, who plays the aspiring fourth Musketeer, D’Artagnan, and will also star in next year’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower adaptation. The Three Musketeers themselves look a little familiar, but aren’t household names: Matthew Macfayden, Ray Stevenson, and super-cutie Luke Evans. As for Sherlock Holmes, Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law reprise their roles as Holmes and Watson, respectively, and Rachel McAdams is back as Irene Adler (though in, it seems, a smaller role than last time). Plus, Stephen Fry pops in as Holmes’ older brother, and Mad Men‘s Jared Harris plays Holmes’ enemy, Professor Moriarty! Delightful casting all around. Advantage: Sherlock Holmes 2

You’ll understand pretty much everything you need to know about The Three Musketeers adaptation after a peek at its director Paul W.S. Anderson’s résumé: in a nearly two-decade career, he’s directed Mortal Kombat, Resident Evil, Alien vs. Predator, Death Race, and several other films like that. Sherlock Holmes‘ director, Guy Ritchie, is more than the ex-Mr. Madonna: in a career of about the same length as Anderson’s, he’s directed stylized films like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, and Revolver. (Also that disastrous Madonna vehicle, Swept Away.) We’re going to put these two on equal footing, since they both make the kind of films, most popular among male seniors in high school, that we’ve never been interested in anyway. Advantage: Tie

Specious Period Detail
We’re pretty sure that cannon at 0:57 in The Three Musketeers is actually some kind of sophisticated blowtorch, the likes of which did not exist in Dumas’ day. And directly following that scene, when Milla Jovovich walks through a hallway rigged with dozens of tiny spiked cannonballs coming out of the walls—what is that?! In Sherlock Holmes, we were distracted around a minute in: did people actually do that whole post-newspaper-clippings-on-the-wall-and-connect-them-with-red-strings thing before A Beautiful Mind? Is this authentic 19th-century behavior? Then, similarly to Musketeers, there’s a whole action sequence starting around 2:00 where machine guns magically exist and explosives are shockingly sophisticated. They’re about evenly matched, until the funny little tags at the ends of the trailers. Sherlock‘s ends with a cute—and believable, for the period!—little “gun”/”face” repartee between Law and Downey. At the end of Musketeers‘ trailer, one of the Musketeers’ groupies is like, “Was it 40 or 400 [people you just slayed]?” and the Musketeer responds, “Just 40. It was an off-day.” Like he’s talking to her at the water cooler! Advantage: Sherlock Holmes 2

Shoes to Fill
has a lot more to live up to: the Guinness Book has called the character the “most portrayed movie character,” with at least 75 actors having played him onscreen. And some of these (Basil Rathbone!) are pretty iconic! The Three Musketeers has had some memorable remakes, too: a silent one starring Douglas Fairbanks, one starring Gene Kelly, one starring Michael York. But it gets a pass because the version most Americans will probably remember is the riotously bad 1993 adaptation starring Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland, and Chris O’Donnell, who walked around saying “I’m D’Artagnan!” in the least French accent you can possibly imagine. Woof. It’s not insane to imagine this might be an improvement on that. Advantage: The Three Musketeers

Sexy Ladies
The Three Musketeers gets points for its lady character, who at least appears in the source text: her name is Milady de Winter, and she’s a super-hot double agent who works for the villainous Cardinal Richelieu. She’s played by Milla Jovovich, whose futuristic good looks work surprisingly well in period dress. In Sherlock Holmes, the sexy lady is Noomi Rapace, who plays a French gypsy named Sim. All right! Pretty sure we don’t remember her from the books. But then… at 1:24, a whole other lady! It’s… it’s Robert Downey, Jr. in drag! Sherlock wins this category, and every category, for that alone. Advantage: Sherlock Holmes 2

The Verdict
Maybe they’re dumbing down the promotional material so that prospective audiences won’t be intimidated, but honestly—and we’ll admit it’s been a while since high school, when we last dealt with him—we don’t remember Dumas’ Musketeers being so simple. Like, offensively simple. Sherlock‘s not going to win any Oscars, but it looks like a fun romp in the vein of the first one—and a movie that takes at least a little thinking to enjoy. Winner: Sherlock Holmes 2