Originally published Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 12:05 AM

Movie review

'The Three Musketeers': Not one for all

A movie review of "The Three Musketeers," which director Paul W.S. Anderson has turned into a steampunk'd migraine. It stars Logan Lerman, Milla Jovovich, Matthew Macfadyen, Ray Stevenson, Luke Evans, Mads Mikkelsen, Orlando Bloom and Christoph Waltz.

Chicago Tribune

Movie review 1 stars

'The Three Musketeers,' with Logan Lerman, Milla Jovovich, Matthew Macfadyen, Ray Stevenson, Luke Evans, Mads Mikkelsen, Orlando Bloom, Christoph Waltz. Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, from a screenplay by Alex Litvak and Andrew Davies, based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas. 102 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sequences of adventure action violence. Several theaters.

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Whatever your relationship (ardent, platonic, nonexistent) to the Alexandre Dumas story about Athos, Porthos, Aramis and the lionhearted musketeer intern, D'Artagnan, there's a word for the latest screen edition of "The Three Musketeers": whatthehell?

Seriously: What the hell?

The 1844 Dumas adventure classic is now a steampunk'd migraine. Clashing 3-D swords in your face! — purloined jewels and court intrigues no longer suffice. This movie exists for its digital airborne sailing vessels and deadly retro-futuristic flamethrowers.

Somewhere in there you'll find a trio of cynical, out-of-work musketeers, the casualties of "budget cuts," as one of them notes. "I thought you'd all be a little more ... heroic," says D'Artagnan, played by Logan Lerman. Wrong movie! These three are homicide machines, or at least maiming machines, given to slow-motion gamer-style "kills."

Leonardo da Vinci, we learn, has drawn up plans for a deadly flying "war machine." In the prologue, Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Aramis (Luke Evans) and Porthos (Ray Stevenson) sneak into Venice on a special-ops mission. Their accomplice, Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich), betrays the lot, allying herself with Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) on the one hand and the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom) on the other.

As Rochefort, a role beefed up for this latest film version, the splendid Mikkelsen has a flash or two of menace. But the action is so dominated by green-screen effects and bombastic nonsense, you long for a decently paced, shrewdly edited sword fight or two.

Rewatch the 1974 Richard Lester "Three Musketeers" sometime. That impudent entertainment, both plush and merrily slapdash, had a spark to call its own. This latest version is "le pits."

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