Despite being the umpteenth version of the classic cavalier caper, and not even the first one to be animated, Euro co-production "The Three Musketeers" charms, if only for having been made with puppets, an outright novelty in this era of computer-generated toons.

Despite being the umpteenth version of the classic cavalier caper, and not even the first one to be animated, Euro co-production “The Three Musketeers” charms, if only for having been made with puppets, an outright novelty in this era of computer-generated toons. Co-helmed by Latvian animator Janis Cimermanis and Dane Gert Fredholm, briskly made kidpic emphasizes knockabout and earthy humor, but stays roughly faithful to Alexandre Dumas’ original story. Theatrical prospects beyond Denmark, Latvia, Blighty and Gaul (it’s already opened in the last) aren’t hot, but with redubbing, pic could win over the tiny-tot market on ancillary.

Hot-blooded musketeer wannabe D’Artagnan falls in with titular threesome — soldiers Porthos, Aramis and Athos. Before long, they’re pulled into a court intrigue centered around some missing diamonds and involving the Queen of France, the nefarious Cardinal Richelieu and lady-in-waiting Milady. Swords clash and buckles are swashed, but hardly any muskets are ever fired. Figures have beaky, caricatured features but no moving facial parts, which forces animators to rely inventively on posture and gesture to suggest emotion, making for a pleasantly old-school feel that’s of a piece with the rest of tech package.

The Three Musketeers

Denmark-Latvia-U.K.

Production

An Ink (U.K.), Aboom (Latvia), Zentropa Entertainments3 (Denmark) production with the support of the Latvian National Cinematography Center, Scottish Screen, State Culture Capital Foundation, Glasgow Film Office, Danish Film Institute, Eurimages, Canal+, Zoma Films. (International sales: Trust Film Sales, Copenhagen.) Produced by Maris Putnins, Bob Last, Peter Garde, Mikael Olsen. Executive producers, Peter Aalbaek Jensen, Hans Hansen. Directed by Janis Cimermanis, Gert Fredholm. Screenplay, Maris Putnins, based on the book by Alexandre Dumas.

Crew

Camera (color), Evalds Lacis; editors, Rasmus Stensgaard Madsen, Lacis, Cimermanis; music, Martins Brauns; production designer, Dace Rozlapa; animation, Dace Riduze, Inese Neija, Cimermanis, Maris Brinkmanis, Vizma Bieza, Liene Riekstina, Rauls Sensberg; sculptor, Ilze Kirsteina; puppet makers, Lelde Karklina, Eriks Kirsteins, Gints Grasis. English dialogue. Reviewed at Black Nights Film Festival (Baltic Event), Tallinn, Estonia, Dec. 3, 2006. Running time: 75 MIN.
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