Alexandre Dumas' classic story has been adapted many times, its film history stretching back to the silent era. The last time Hollywood took a decent stab at it was in 1993 with Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland and Oliver Platt attempting some rapier wit.

While director Paul W.S Anderson's latest version doesn't have really big names, it's a slick new 3D interpretation with plenty of big budget action, clearly hoping to pick up some Pirates of the Caribbean fans pining for more big-screen swashbuckling.

When the witty and understated Athos (Macfadyen), Aramis (Luke Evans) and Porthos (Stevenson), and their new protege D'Artagnan (Lerman), leap into action there are impressive swordfights, stunts, and smart quips. Individually they are charming, but it's also their convincing camaraderie that makes this plain good fun.

It's the bits between the action that are the problem, where there's rather silly and simply scripted plotting by mischievous villains trying to provoke war between France and England. Milla Jovovich as Milady is central to this; a double agent who uses her powers of seduction and cunning to play off France's Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) and Britain's Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom).


Jovovich gets to show off her stunt moves, which are all the more impressive for being done wearing a corset, but the reason for her espionage remains unclear.

Waltz does what is becoming his regular manipulative bad guy routine, and Bloom is just impossible to take seriously with a hair-do that seems to channels Elvis on a bad day.

They're an average bunch of baddies - not amusing, interesting or evil enough to interest us in their political games. The real fun is in the musketeers stopping them.

Anderson's claim to fame is that this is the first 3D version of The Three Musketeers, and it does make this film look like a beautifully illustrated pop-up book brought to life.

There's a reason why there have been so many versions of The Three Musketeers - it's fun. It is clear from the ending of this instalment that this is intended to be the first of a series - even Dumas' original story had sequels. It's a solid start and now the scene has been set, hopefully next time Anderson will really let those musketeers loose.

Stars: 3/5
Cast: Logan Lerman, Luke Evans, Matthew Macfadyen, Ray Stevenson Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Running time: 110 mins
Rating: M (medium level violence)
Verdict: Charming musketeers and decent enough action are slowed down by a sluggish script