With the exception of A Christmas Carol, I can’t think of a story that’s been adapted more times than The Three Musketeers. Everyone from Charlie Sheen to Barbie to Gene Kelly has donned the feathery hats and billowy shirts at one point or another.

Frankly, I think it’s time to stop.

The latest version, directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, comes off as more of a silly spoof of Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel than anything else. Anderson, known for the Resident Evil series, has put together a steampunk-lite version of the Musketeers story, aimed at the 10-13 year old set. The fight sequences all feature the now-tired Matrix-y slo-mo, the dialogue is so trite and goofy that only a pre-teen could appreciate it, and the 3D? Well… is it too soon to say that particular technology has jumped the shark?

The story, for the most part, is true(ish) to Dumas’ novel. Young D’artagnan (Logan Lerman) wants to be a musketeer, so he travels to Paris, where he immediately meets (and wrongs) the famous trio: Porthos (Ray Stevenson), Aramis (Luke Evans), and Athos (Matthew Macfayden). They, in turn, have been wronged by Milady (Milla Jovovich), who snatched DaVinci’s plans for a flying boat/war machine right out from under them.

At the same time Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) is plotting to take over the throne of France by creating a war with rival England– by insinuating that the French queen has been having an affair with the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom).

From there the three musketeers (who, ironically, prefer swords) are off to save the day (nay, the world) through a series of swashbuckling adventures.

In all fairness, Anderson may well have had a decent idea when he went into the project, and what could have been a hip, Sucker Punch-ish take on the classic tale devolves very quickly into something more likely to be seen in a (bad) high school drama club production.

The script, by the unlikely duo of Alex Litvak (Predators) and Andrew Davies (Bridget Jones’s Diary), is chock full of clich├ęd nonsense like, “There are things in the world worth living and dying for,” mixed clumsily with modern-day colloquialisms. And you can’t help but wonder what they heck much of the cast is doing here. Sure, Jovovich is Anderson’s wife, but Orlando Bloom gave up the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise for drivel like this? And, what happened with Waltz (not two years removed from his Inglourious Basterds Oscar)? Did he decide that he needed a break from all that heavy lifting?

All in all, you may very well find yourself wanting to watch a more entertaining Three Musketeers adaptation– like, perhaps, this one.

2/5 stars