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The Count of Monte Cristo
The Count of Monte Cristo (Soundtrack)
The Count of Monte Cristo (Novel)

The Count Of Monte Cristo The Count of Monte Cristo Review

Directed By: Kevin Reynolds.
Starring: James Caviezel, Guy Pearce, Richard Harris, Dagmara Dominczyk, Luis Guzmán.

Synopsis: Alexandre Dumas' classic story of an innocent man wrongly but deliberately imprisoned and his brilliant strategy for revenge against those who betrayed him. Dashing young sailor Edmond Dantes (James Caviezel) is a guileless and honest young man whose peaceful life and plans to marry the beautiful Mercedes (Dagmara Dominczyk) are abruptly shattered when his best friend Fernand (Guy Pearce), who wants Mercedes for himself, deceives him. He sets him up to be unlawfully sentenced to the infamous island prison of Chateau D'If. Edmond is trapped in this nightmare that lasts for thirteen years. Haunted by the baffling course his life has taken, over time everything he ever believed about right and wrong is abandoned and replaced by all-consuming thoughts of vengeance against those who betrayed him. With the help of an equally innocent fellow inmate (Richard Harris), Dantes plots and succeeds in his mission to escape from prison, whereupon he transforms himself into the mysterious and wealthy Count of Monte Cristo. With cunning ruthlessness, he cleverly insinuates himself into the French nobility and systematically destroys the men who manipulated and enslaved him.

That's a lot of territory to cover in just 2 hours and 11 minutes but Kevin Reynolds, displaying a flair for directing not previously realized, does a more than admirable job. Reynolds is responsible (along with Costner) wit the sub-par Robin Hood...there were stories of Costner and Reynolds fighting to the point where Costner took over on Robin Hood, if so, perhaps this is Reynolds way of showing the world what a solid adaptation of a great work can be.

The story, a classic tale of wrong doings and then the inevitable revenge wrought upon the (to use a George W. Bush-ism) evil doers. This is a crowd pleaser folks, no if's and's or buts about it. In fact, every critic should be forced to watch this one with a full paying audience to hear the reactions. They gasped at all the right moments, even some smatterings of applause during a scene towards the finale. When you hear critics pontificating about a throwback to the old style of Hollywood being evident they are right. If placed in black and white and in the time of the Golden Age of Hollywood then this one would fit in perfectly.

The Count of Monte Cristo is all about characters and story...not effects and not action. Yes, there are some action sequences here but instead of updating all the moments, the fights are simplistic, true to the moment of time. The writer, Jay Wolpert, plays with the humor a bit in the film giving it a slightly modern bite but nothing that is glaringly obvious. The film bogs down slightly in parts, but only slightly when certain segments last a little long in one location (the prison and the treasure hunt) but these are mild, nit-picky sort of complaints and should be readily dismissed from one's mind.

As for the casting, almost note perfect all the way across the board. Jim Caviezel, still floating relatively unknown in the mass audience should gather a bigger following (he was great in Frequency) after a superb, stylish portrayal of Edmond Dantes/The Count of Monte Cristo. Guy Pierce, again, another great performance...fingers crossed for the same effort put forth in another classic adaptation The Time Machine, in which Pierce stars. Also noteworthy is Luis Guzmán, a great character actor who brings a menacing look with a lot of charm to his role.

Less successful, although quite important, is Dagmara Dominczyk as Edmond's then Fernand's lover interest Mercedes. Half the time she seems to be background, even when front and center, though in a few scenes she does shine she hasn't quite developed the ability to hold toe-to-toe against such actors as Pierce or Caviezel.

Locations and set design play a big part in this flick. From the opulence of The Count's abodes to a stylish ballooning entry to the Count's swanky affair the backgrounds are always eye-catching.

In the end, a great book, a great Saturday night flick and a great return to story for Hollywood. Let's see some more like it. The Count of Monte Cristo gets an above average 3 and a half stars out of 5.

Copyright© Written By: Rob Paul

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