Many people comment on how Disney took a generally dark and adult novel and watered it down for their audience. To those people, I ask: Have you ever seen Paul WS Anderson's version of the Dumas novel? If anything, what "The Three Musketeers" lacks in poeticism, it makes up for in entertainment value, at least. And I am a big fan of the casting of Keifer Sutherland as the leader of the Musketeers. Basically, Alexandre Dumas' tale remains fairly in tact save for one caveat. The Musketeers live happily ever after. But then Disney took "Hunchback of Notre Dame" and turned Quasimodo in to a kind hearted gent with a mild facial disfigurement who becomes the hero of his city in the end of the movie, so it comes with the territory.
After his father is murdered, D'Artagnan, as played by Chris O'Donnell with a curly coif, travels to find the disbanded three musketeers. By circumstance and coincidence, he manages to come across the three musketeers in his journeys. One is a philandering drunk, one is a god fearing wise man, and the leader is a bitter old soldier. "The Three Musketeers" wants to be an ensemble movie first, and a buddy movie second. And it works on both levels. Casting two former eighties stars, and the clever Oliver Platt as the Musketeers makes for a thrilling ride, while O'Donnell, the It Guy of the nineties, keeps D'Artagnan a likable and humble hero the entire way through. As for the villains, who better to play them than Tim Curry and Michael Wincott?
They embody the roles of the scalliwags that prove difficulty for the foursome of musketeers, and D'Artagnan's quest to restore his father's honor becomes a real interesting device for the film's dramatic momentum. Wincott is just intense as the vicious Rochefort who reveled in disbanding the Musketeers, and takes pride in murdering anyone he pleases. "The Three Musketeers" by way of director Stephen Herek takes the violent dramatic novel and turns it in to a more family friendly iteration. So there's much comedy, and whimsical romance in place of vicious confrontations. Olive Platt as Porthos manages to steal his screen time with witty one-liners and hilarious retorts to dangerous situations.
The fight choreography for the most part is entertaining and offers the fodder for action fans, with engrossing moments of tension during parring, especially when D'Artagnan gets his chance to confront Rochefort in the finale. The casting is just so much fun, and while the movie is toned down for a fun family night, the casting of the four musketeers works volumes. Rebecca DeMornay in typical fashion, steals most of her scenes away as the ravishing Countess D'Winter who garners a long history with Musketeer leader Athos. Many will not enjoy how the film opts for the goofy Three stooges mad cap final scene with the bad guy running off screaming, but it's a minor quibble in an otherwise fine action comedy. I'd much rather sit through this than endure "The Musketeer" or Paul WS Anderson's goofy steam punk reboot any day.