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The Three Musketeers / Rated PG-13 for a severe case of remakeitis.

Not counting movie serials or made for TV versions, T3M has been filmed at least a dozen times. And this doesn’t count versions of The Man in the Iron Mask which also features the candy bar trio. I have seen them all except for the version with Charlie Sheen, Three (and a Half) Musketeers. The D’Artagnan character was always the 4th Musketeer and star of the show. The best version ever was the 1974 Richard Lester version which featured a dynamite cast including Michael York, Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlain, Raquel Welch (her only acting award performance), Faye Dunaway, Christopher Lee and Charlton Heston. Add in scores by Michel Legrand and Lalo Schifrin and the film was 4 Star entertainment. Originally made as one film, it was split and released as The Three Musketeers, The Queens Diamonds and a year later The Four Musketeers, Milady‘s Revenge. Lester also directed the 10 Years Later portion of a novel based on Alexandre Dumas story, The Vicomte de Bragelonne, and released The Return of the Musketeers 15 years later. All the primary actors were back except those whose characters had died off prior to when the story takes place. Kim Cattrall (Sex and the City) shows up as a sword fighting toughie, out for revenge. One of the Richard Lester regulars, actor Roy Kinnear (A Hard Days Night, Help, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and the original version of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory), returned in his role as Planchet but died while filming due to a riding accident. His part had to be written and shot around using doubles to finish the film. Richard Lester was so upset he quit film making after this movie and has never returned.

The Three Musketeers have. The new version has a lot in common with the 1974 version. It is half a movie ending with a sequel indicated. Early box office returns seem to say they should have used the 75 million bucks (reputed budget) and invested in namesake candy bars. While handsomely mounted, beautifully costumed and energetic, the film also strays so far off history as to introduce flying boats, slow motion heist sequences and parking violations. Christoph Waltz, the wicked Nazi detective from Inglorious Basterds and The Green Hornet, seems the most experienced member of the ensemble. Orlando Bloom is along as The Duke of Bucking-ham and Mads Mikkelsen (the baddie in the latest version of Casino Royale) is the evil Rochefort. Beyond these three the rest of the cast is mostly unknown to American audiences. They all do admirable jobs trying to live up to the 1974 “Big Cast” version.

While it looks like this version of the film is headed for a quick trip to DVD I recommend it to fans of the genre or the 1974 film. I saw this film in the real 3D version and a great deal of the film seems out of focus. If you go save the 3D glasses surcharge and check out the 1D version.

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Rated 2.9 out of 4.0 Swashbuckling sequels. Can another one be far behind? The Lester version is available on DVD and BluRay.

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