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‘The Three Musketeers’ (PG-13)

By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
November 12, 1993

Even with all the leggings and horses and medieval gear, Walt Disney's "The Three Musketeers" looks more like a beach-party movie than an adaptation of a beloved classic. The movie stars Kiefer Sutherland, Oliver Platt, Charlie Sheen and Chris O'Donnell and has been lovingly referred to as "Young Guns in Tights" -- a description that probably can't be improved upon.

About all I remember from watching this rousing, calamitous, hyperactive film is flashing white teeth, sword fights and hair -- a glorious profusion of luxurious romantic hair. Director Stephen Herek and writer David Loughery haven't simply adapted the Dumas classic; they've given it a shot of B-12 and mounted it on a pogo stick. The result is a blur of galloping horses, last-minute rescues, daring stunts, fistfights, sword fights and radiant damsels in distress, all presented in the same slapstick mock-heroic style that Richard Lester brought to his marvelous adaptation of the same story in 1974.

In other words, Herek's approach is not that original, but his ability to put us right in the heart of the action, right where the blow lands and the face hits the ground, does get the heart going. His sword-fight scenes are intricately choreographed, sharply executed and exhilarating. Also, his actors -- including Gabrielle Anwar as Queen Anne and Rebecca De Mornay as Milady -- are gorgeous, and they seem to be having a great time hamming it up in their old costumes.

The high-angled shots used by Herek and cinematographer Dean Semler make the characters seem mythically larger than life, none of them more so than Tim Curry as the evil Cardinal Richelieu. With his huge, snarling lips filling the screen, Curry makes the scheming holy man look as if he were about to gobble up the whole world. He makes a grand villain, impressive enough to be on par with Alan Rickman's Sheriff of Nottingham in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves."

Platt, too, is terrific as the robust, life-loving Porthos, and Sheen is appropriately wooden as the stolid, devout Aramis. But as the excitable D'Artagnan, O'Donnell is the real standout. O'Donnell has already made strong showings in "Men Don't Leave" and "Scent of a Woman," but neither of those films revealed the big-time charisma of this emerging young star. Definitely, he is someone to watch.

Overall, "The Three Musketeers" is like a big boy's adventure book come to life. It's a brisk, colorful, infectiously charming but instantly disposable Hollywood entertainment. It's fun, like watching kids play dress-up in the back yard -- nothing more, nothing less.

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