Before I get to discussing the film proper there are two things you need to know:
First this really is the first part of a two part film. I say this because there is a cliffhanger ending.
Secondly there is a brief mid-credits sequence that isn't required viewing but simply priming the pump for part two.
With that out of the way....
Martin Bourboulon's version of THREE MUSKETEERS has the basic framework of the story and the main characters from the novel, but it radically rewrites the story into less a romance and more a political action film.
You should be warned that there are lots of changes to the details to the story to the point that the novel's plot has been greatly added to with Athos being framed for murder and an assassination plot involving his brother being shoe horned in. On its own terms the plot mostly works, but if you are looking something as faithful to the novel as the Richard Lester films look elsewhere. If you can just go with it the cast, the look and the incredible action will make your heart sing.
To be honest the problem with the film is that there is too much going on. There are too many plot threads to the point that things frequently feel under explained. The creation of a number of characters wobbles things are well since we really don't know who many of them are or why they are there. I suspect that they will come to play in the second part (which opens in France a week after this part opens in the US). And because so much of this is new we can't crib understanding from earlier versions or the novel.
Until I gave myself over to the film, about the time of the duel scene ("but I'm fighting him" "At Noon"), I wasn't sure what I thought of the film. However once the musketeers become four friends I was hooked, I was like "to hell with it" and I just went along since I effectively had to do that with Paul WS Anderson's and Peter Hyams versions of the story. You simply have to let this film be it's own thing.
As I said above the action sequences rock. The duel sequence is magnificent, as are all the others.They are so good I want to see them on a truly huge screen. If nothing else the action keeps you watching because you want to see the next great fight.
The cast is across the board great with my only negative comment being I think some are under utilized- but we'll see if that's still the case with part 2.
And having to wait for the second part is a problem. Instead of ending in a sequence similar to the Richard Lester film, this film pushes on to end with a kidnapping cliffhanger. We are left hanging, which is fine in that we know part 2 is coming, but is also disappointing because until the second part really arrives we are left twiddling our thumbs to see how this version comes out.
As it stands now I kind of loved this film on its own terms. It is imperfect and not the novel, but that's more than okay. My feelings for the film may change after I see the second part so expect a review for the second film when I see it and then another piece concerning the whole things.
Definitely recommended if you like swashbucklers and even more so if you can see this on the big screen.