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The Count of Monte Cristo
2002 - PG-13 - 131 Mins.
Director: Kevin Reynolds I
Producer: Gary Barber
Written By: Alexandre Dumas Pere (Jay Wolpert Screenplay)
Starring: James Caviezel, Guy Pearce, Dagmara Dominczyk, Richard Harris, Luis Guzman
Review by: Greg Ursic
Except for novels that I had to read for English 200 back in university (unless you count the time I read "The Brothers Karamazov" for fun - don't ask), most of my exposure to the literary classics came from the Classics Illustrated comics. I always enjoyed the fact that they took great stories, cut through the chaff, made them easily accessible, enjoyable and I could be done in less than a half an hour. Apparently directors read them too.

Edmund Dantes is a simple man with simple desires: his only goal in life is to save enough money so that he can wed his beautiful fiancée. Unfortunately, his belief in all that is good and trust in his friends are the very qualities that mark him as the perfect patsy. Convicted of nonexistent crimes, Edmund is sent to die in a hideous hellhole that masquerades as a prison. Bereft of hope, and having denounced god, there is only one thing that keeps Edmund alive -dreams of escape and revenge.

When I originally slipped into this film I was hoping that it would provide me with two hours of enjoyment and it greatly exceeded my expectations. I was therefore curious to see if it would stand the test of time and I watched it again with some friends this weekend and was not disappointed.

The Count of Monte Cristo is a film that truly has something for everyone: romance, betrayal, intrigue, humor, sword fights. It embodies the spirit seen few other films other than the Indiana Jones trilogy, where the viewer is presented with pure entertainment that doesn't iinsult their intelligence.

James Cavaziel's past performances have been less than stellar. More importantly, they have failed to demonstrate his dramatic range. As Edmund, he is given the opportunity to create a character who undergoes stark changes, both physically and mentally: Edmund metamorphoses from a shockingly naïve, young man, to bitter, bedraggled wretch with a tenuous grasp on reality, and finally into a scheming Machiavellian rake. The transformation is smooth and believable and helps draw you in. Edmund's friend/foil is Fernand, played with aplomb by Guy Pearce. Pearce is so despicably roguish, that you almost admire him as you're loathing him. Richard Harris is wonderful as Faria, Edmund's grizzled sage advisor, father confessor and trainer. The rest of the supporting cast also accord themselves well.

The film succeeds largely because it does not take itself seriously - even the most dramatic scenes are played with tongue planted firmly in cheek and it is obvious that the cast were caught up in this spirit. In addition, the film is suitable for all ages - the violence is limited and largely bloodless, and there is no coarse language or nudity. I would not hesitate to recommend this film to anyone wanting a good time.
Movie Guru Rating
An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater.
  4 out of 5 stars

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