The Count of Monte Cristo

Tagline : Prepare for adventure. Count on revenge.

Runtime : 131 mins

Genre : Adventure Drama History

Vote Rating : 7.7/10

Budget : 35 million $ USD

Revenue : 75.4 million $ USD

Plot : Edmond Dantés's life and plans to marry the beautiful Mercedes are shattered when his best friend, Fernand, deceives him. After spending 13 miserable years in prison, Dantés escapes with the help of a fellow inmate and plots his revenge, cleverly insinuating himself into the French nobility.

Cast Members


Fantastic story given a quite smashing adaptation. Every once in a while, when Hollywood is stuck for new swashbuckling ideas, they turn to the writer of "The Three Musketeers", "The Man In The Iron Mask" and "The Count Of Monte Cristo", one Alexandre Dumas père. Which of course is no bad thing as long as the adaptation is given care and consideration - which hasn't always been the case. So when it was announced that the director of Waterworld, Kevin Reynolds, was to direct the latest version of "The Count Of Monte Cristo", many feared the worst. Made for around $35 million, Reynolds' film fared OK at the Worldwide box office, taking in around $76 million. Yet although far from being a flop, it upped and vanished rather quickly and was barely given a mention come the arrival of 2003. Thankfully the film gathered momentum with the rental releases and is now firmly established as a much loved genre piece. On the two big hitting movie internet sites, Rotten Tomatoes & IMDb, the film scores 75% and 7.5 respectively, that's about right I would say. Reynolds' film doesn't bring anything new to the table as regards the story, but if it isn't broke then why fix it? Staying safe and true to the spirit of the source, Reynolds has simply crafted a rip roaring movie about betrayal, torture, faith, revenge and love. The makers have costumed it up and added the necessary sword play ingredient. All that was needed was for his cast to deliver performances worthy of such period shenanigans. And he got them. James Caviezel plays Edmond Dantes. Two years away from playing Jesus Christ, the role that would make his name known, Caviezel had prior to Cristo looked anything but a leading man. But here he finds a role to get his teeth into and it's a comfortable fit, and crucially he seems to be having a good time with it. No such point to prove for Guy Pearce (Fernand Mondego) though, for he already had "L.A. Confidential" & "Memento" under his belt. Here he gives it the full pompous villain act and struts around like some dandy spoiled brat. It's a film stealing performance that shows that the guy who played Mike Young in Aussie soaper Neighbours, has indeed come a long way. Richard Harris adds a touch of class as Abbé Faria, gravel voiced Michael Wincott does a nice line in sadistic bastard as the Château D'If governor, Armand Dorleac. While Luis Guzmán as Jacopo is fun comic relief and Dagmara Dominczyk as Mercedès Iguanada is both sensual and heartfelt. Never over camping the movie, Reynolds keeps it pacey and dots it with smart set pieces and memorable scenes. Backed up by an on form cast and a sure fire source story to work from, "The Count Of Monte Cristo" turns out to be period winner. So see it if you haven't done so already. 8/10

Jim Caviezel is adequate, no better, as the wronged "Edmond" who gets caught up in a Napoleonic conspiracy that sees him confined on a remote island prison from which no-one escapes alive. His situation seems hopeless, until he receives an unlikely visitor - the elderly Abbe Faria (Richard Harris), who has been trying to tunnel his way out but took a bit of a wrong turning! The two become firm friends, and his parting gifts to the younger man are the secrets of an immense treasure - and his bodybag - that might enable him to seek revenge on "Fernand" (Guy Pearce); "Villefort" (James Frain) and "Maurice" (Christophe Adams) whose machinations stole a great chunk of his life, and cost him the love of "Mercedes" (Dagmara Dominczyk). His vengeance is cleverly structured, he determines to allow each of these people to turn on each other - using their own greed and mistrust to destroy the other. Alexandre Dumas wrote a great story, with loads of intrigue - yet somehow this iteration doesn't really get going. Too much of the build up is abridged (or just not there at all) and that makes the rest of the story weaker and less engaging. The production is adequate, the costumes and look of the film are good, but the pace and performances are both about box office than about characterisations. I felt indifferent about all of them - even the naive young "Albert" (Henry Cavill) whose character is actually quite pivotal in the book, helping remind "Edmond" of the humanity he once had before incarceration. There are way better versions of this story - notably the Robert Donat one from 1934, and I'd recommend that instead, any day.

Well, it's not one quality... but I like to do a thumbs up or thumbs down approach. If the movie entertains a thumbs up, if it doesn't a thumbs down. Seems simpler than debating on a 4, a 5, a 6, whatever. This is also kind of why I want to be able to review individual actors, just so I can write a memo to Guy Peirce and tell him that he needs to stop doing period literary pieces and go back to making films that don't require ascots and puffs. And this brings me to the point in the review where I question why I know what the difference between an ascot and a puff are. Anyway, self-reflection aside, the problem is that it doesn't know if it wants to be a thrilling adventure novel that is best epitomized by the writings of Dumas in all his pulp adventure glory... or if the story lasted in popularity for a century or so too long and now has to be regarded as a drama and treated with all the seriousness of a mature literary classic. It teases with both and never settles on either. It kind of comes across that Wolpert, the writer, understood that Dumas was a pulp adventure writer but Reynolds, the director, thought Dumas was as serious as Dante. It makes you feel like you are sitting in two different worlds. It kind of feels like you are watching a movie that wants to be a fun adventure yarn about revenge and prison breaks but every time that beast tries to escaped, it's forced back into it's cage by directorial gods of pretentious pompery. This is the type of movie that you'd get if the director of "Taming of the Shrew" thought everything Shakespeare wrote was "Richard III"... it's unsettling how deadly serious it takes itself.

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