Best of
lMovie Review
The Count of Monte Cristo
By Mira Harber

    Once upon a time, every schoolchild knew the story of The Count of Monte Cristo - a story of love, treachery, betrayal, fabulous wealth and revenge. An old story, but still a ripping good one. This time around the hero Edmund Dantes (Jim Caviezel) is a good hearted, honest & illiterate (not unusual at the time) seaman, just promoted to Captain for his good deeds. Newly promoted and engaged to a beautiful woman, life looks rosy for Edmund. But no - Edmund’s political naivete combined with a jealous friend end up with Edmund being falsely accused of political treason and jailed in a hell-hole of a prison , with what looks like no hope of escape. Edmund spends years in this unspeakably awful prison - at first cowering mounfully in the corner of his cell, alone, desolate and despairing...
Enter a fellow prisoner Faria, (Richard Harris as a kind of a  French Obi-Wan-Kenobe) who teaches Edmund everything he will ever need to know to be considered a gentleman, and a man of learning. Oh, he also leaves Edmund the info on where a fabulous, legendary fortune is hidden. 
    Our hero makes a break for it, gets the treasure and begins to plot his revenge.  Boy does he want revenge, and then some! Now, the villain in this film Fernand Montego is played by the deliciously evil Guy Pearce. None of that  ‘ Robert Redford, soft focus, I’m always a good guy baloney’ for him - nope - he chews up the scenery as a bad-to-the bone blackard - he’s stolen everything from Edmund, and he’d do it again, given half the chance.  Guy Pearce has the world’s worst haircut in this film (all the better to identify himself as the villain I guess).
The photography is completely spectacular in Count of Monte Cristo - it’s like a travelogue for fabulous France and environs, and I must say that old Edmund cleans up rather nicely when he makes the transition to Count. 
    My main problem with this film is that although he sure does look nice, Edmund lacks that indefinable ‘life-force’ or intensity required for a role like this. He always seems a little too passive and well-fed (even in prison) to undergo such a huge personality transition. If I had my way, a really intense kind of guy, an actor like Russell Crowe or a younger Al Pacino-someone you could totally believe would dive into mega-revenge,  would have been a better choice to play the Count/Edmund. Still, and I’ll say it again, Edmund cleans up REALLY nicely, so I guess we’ll just have to live with it. 
    Comic relief is provided by Luis Guzman - he’s pretty 2002 in his attitudes, but he is hilarious throughout the film - which is saying a lot in a film that deals largely with jealousy and revenge. 
    All in all, I’d call this a Sunday afternoon B movie- schlocky, but basically still a great story that you’ll be glad you spent the time watching it.


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