The Count of Monte Cristo

Directed by Kevin Reynolds
Starring: James Caviezel, Guy Pearce, Richard Harris, James Frain, Dagmara Dominczyk, Luis Guzmán.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for adventure violence/swordplay and some sensuality.

Review by Eugene Kopman <eugene@filmhead.com>
February 21, 2002

It has become a fad in the last few years to take books and make them into films. In 2002 alone, a year that has just started, this is the second movie-based-on-a-book that I have seen. I'm very happy that this film is much better then A Walk To Remember. My next hope is that The Time Machine will follow the way of Count instead of Walk.

As I said, this film is based on a book called The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. The book itself is written in two volumes, but strip it to its bare essentials and you get this film. Yes, there was a lot more in the book regarding the characters, emotions, etc., but basically it's a story of revenge, which is clearly seen on the screen.

Edmond Dantčs (James Caviezel) was born into a poor family and in his 20s is still not able to read. On the other hand, he has everything he need to be happy: a best friend, Fernand Mondego (Guy Pearce), a beautiful fiancée, Mercedes (Dagmara Dominczyk), and on top of that he was just named captain of a ship for showing bravery in a time of trouble. Unfortunately, Edmond is very naďve and accepts a letter from Napoleon not thinking that there might be something wrong with it. Unfortunately there is. He is accused of treason and put into the Chateau L'Tif, the worst prison at the time.

In prison he meets Abbé Faria (Richard Harris), or the Priest as Edmond calls him. The Priest asks for Edmond's help to escape; in return he will teach Edmond how to read, write, and fight. Edmond is a fast learner; unfortunately the Priest dies, but right before his death, he tells Edmond of the buried treasure of Monte Cristo. Edmond manages to escape and joins a band of pirates. There he befriends Jacopo (Luis Guzmán), and together they set to find the hidden treasure. The treasure makes Edmond rich beyond his wildest dreams and he decides to use the money to get revenge on everyone who sent him to jail, including Fernand who is now married to Mercedes.

This is a great story thanks in big part to Dumas, but the screenplay wasn't bad either. The only notes I have is that some dialogue, especial that said by Guzmán, is too modern for that time. Solid performances were made by everyone in the movie. Caviezel, after his acclaimed performance in Frequency, shouldn't have wasted his time with Angel Eyes, which has set him back; hopefully he'll continue in the right direction. Pearce, for the first time in the movies I have seen him in (L.A. Confidential, Memento and Rules of Engagement), used a non-American accent, even though he is Australian. His portrayal of the sleazy best friend was very convincing. Guzmán and Harris were used as comic relief and worked very well to lighten this drama.

The only thing keeping this film from being better is that the middle of the film dragged. It started off very well and ended very well, but the middle was a bit too slow. This is a good movie that is worth the price of admission.


For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)

Here's some merchandise for sale at Amazon.com
The Count of Monte Cristo, a novel by Alexandre Dumas -- Hardcover
The Count of Monte Cristo, a novel by Alexandre Dumas -- Paperback
The Count of Monte Cristo, a novel by Alexandre Dumas -- Audio Cassette (read by Bill Homewood)
The Count of Monte Cristo: Soundtrack -- Compact Disc


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