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le 22 juin 2004
I read Dumas' book, though an abridged version, and really enjoyed the pace of his story. So when I had to stay over at my uncle's house for the weekend, I got a chance to view this movie adaption from his movie library. After first choosing a Guy Pearce movie called "Memento", which had something to do with memory loss, I turned that movie off after 20 minutes, when I got too confused with it. To my surprise, Pearce is also in the The Count of Monte Cristo. I first saw Pearce in the superb L.A Confidential. Pearce is an impressive actor, even after the "what's the plot" story of Memento. Pearce plays the chief villain in the movie, Fernand, jealous of Edmond Dantes played by Jim Caviezel.
Dumas' classic story of wealth and revenge is unforgettable. Caviezel is very good as Edmond Dantes, the wrongly accused scapegoat of the Assistant Prosecutor, Villefort. The scene in which he is imprisoned and whipped with full beard, long hair made me wonder if Mel Gibson chose Caviezel to play Christ after viewing this scene. It reminded me of the crucifix scene of Gibson's "Passion" film. Dantes (Caviezel) is aided by an imprisoned priest played by an unrecognizable Richard Harris. The priest helps Dantes by helping him learn to read and improve his dexterity in dueling. The priest's death however helps Dantes the most, for Dantes uses the body bag meant for the priest to make his escape and find the treasure that will make him the Count of Monte Cristo. Once he becomes the Count, he exacts revenge (the fun part of the movie) on those who wronged him.
I suggest reading the book first, because you'll be imagining the actions taking place as you read Dumas' words. For the most part the movie stays the course of Dumas' plot, with some additional scenes and dialogue for drama's sake. This costume piece is also helped by nice scenery and good acting all around. Don't know how well it did at the box office, because most moviegoers stay away form literary adaptations, but it's well worth the rental, or buy it on VHS/DV like my uncle did.
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le 16 avril 2013
This swashbuckler from Kevin Reynolds has enough going for it to leave one ultimately satisfied and entertained but I can't escape a conviction that the film achieves no more than the sum of its parts. With so many screen adaptations of Alexander Dumas' literary classic, it was a monumental challenge to come up with something fresh and relevant without losing the spirit of the book. Other critics have pointed out that the film departs substantially from Dumas towards the end. Much is changed although the main storyline of betrayal, imprisonment and revenge remains. Strictly within its own terms of reference the production works quite well.

Director Reynolds, like Ridley Scott, excels with lighting, colour and framing his pictures to "force the eye." He captures an appropriate classical look with rich, deep colours, and the shadow contrast in scenes with candles or firelight is noticeably good. Acting is uniformly accomplished in the main roles. Jim Caviezel offers a thoroughly believable hero in Edmond Dantes and Guy Pearce is a delight as the dissolute and cynical betrayer Count Mondego. My own favourites are Richard Harris who brings a gentle wisdom and humanity to the part of the Abbe Faria, and the extraordinary Michael Wincott as the deliciously sadistic warden of the Chateau d'If, Armand Dorleac.

One can revel in neat lines of dialogue like "treason is only a matter of dates," or "I lied....I am a priest, not a saint." There are also many humorous asides that are guaranteed to elicit a chuckle, but here I think is a problem. The dialogue contains sudden lapses into modern idiom which, while often amusing, conflict with the general period language of the story and this may break the spell for certain viewers. Some of the casting in the smaller roles also reflects an inconsistency in style. Conversely one might argue that such changes of pace and mood offer a variety which prevents the film from taking itself too seriously. Either way it treads a fine line between "suspension of disbelief" and parody.

Those looking for a faithful adaptation of Dumas' novel "The Count of Monte Cristo" may find this film wanting, If, however, you're interested simply in an entertaining adventure with intrigue, swordplay, humour and romance in a period setting, you could do a lot worse.
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le 26 avril 2004
I love the book, which supposedly means I'm in no condition to enjoy a good movie, much less know a bad one when I see it. Anyway, I put off watching this thing because I figured they would screw it up. But actually, the first third of the movie was pretty good. My hopes rose, foolishly, and then the harsh glare of bad scripting sent them crashing into the sea. The 1975 version is vastly superior, being much more believable and stylish. This 2002 effort isn't exactly awful, mainly it's just boring.
The Caviezel fellow did a nice job in the first part of the film, playing the naive sailor/prisoner. The conversion to the Count was never believable, however, always coming off as a bit of a putz. He simply didn't fill the role. The scenes with the Abbé Farria were the most successful. And although the Chateau d'If whipping scenes were gratuitous, and the book never actually portrayed the landing on Elba, I think they enhanced the story. So there!
So the betrayal, false imprisonment, suffering, and relationship with the Abbé weren't badly done. Caviezel played the prisoner bit very well, and it seemed a real evolution was going on as the years went by. Thus, the set-up of the main plot was accomplished, but the execution was definitely botched.
It all went downhill with the hot air balloon bit. It was stupid. I like Luiz Guzman, but what was he doing in this movie? His absurd portrayal, I guess some see it as "comic relief" was just campy, just plain bad, and the rest of the movie sank like a stone. Caviezel's "Count" was merely foppish and ridiculous. With Caviezel as Count Clown dandy, instead of the dangerous and inscrutable figure of the novel, it all just fell apart. That's not being a stickler to the book, that's just translating the basic character to film.
Basically, the writer and director were never able to set up the vengeance(s) very well. The Count's execution of his plots were never really that clear or interesting. The dialogue between him and his prey were badly written, with a few double entendres and little else. The fairy-tale ending they went for was also VERY lame, you don't have to be a fan of the book to roll your eyes at all of the loose ends being methodically tied. And since at least twenty years went by and all the actors were still obviously in their late-twenties, it was a relief when the tedium finally ended.
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le 30 juin 2004
Well crafted story telling and fine performances make this an enjoyable film adaptation of a classic work.
An outstanding production and well worth a viewing.
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le 16 avril 2004
While this maybe an entertainig movie for the ones who have not read the book, it is an abomination for those of us who cherish one of the world's greatest classics. It is like Romeo and Juliette getting married and live happily ever after. There are indeed beautiful scenes, good acting and an appealing story the movie is not really reflecting the book. I was thoroughly disgusted walking out of the theater. I would very highly recommend the 1974 version with Richard Chaimberlain as a much better film
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le 18 juin 2004
My objection to this movie was not that it had utterly nothing in common with Dumas' novel but for its name and that of its main character. As I'm sure anyone who's ever heard of this movie knows...Hollywood has once agian taken liberties and distorted a classic story into something else. I've gotten used to that by now. In any case, I still did not like the movie.
After careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion that James Caviezal is really not a particularly good actor. He plays every role the same...with a sort of bewildered determination that gets very old...after about thirty seconds. There are some difficult lines in that movie, and James Caviezal makes them sound forced. Not good for a movie that has already been forced enough. Caviezal is certainly something to look at, so for a while his bad acting slips past one's guard, but in the end, nothing can hide badly delivered lines. It's a pity really, because had that role been better casted it would have greatly improved the movie. The secondary characters were wonderful. Guy Peirce, as always, did a spectacularly oily job as Ferdenand, the chief villain and Mercedes' son looked so much like James Caviezal that it made her revelation to her husband at the end of the movie a touch redundant. Richard Harris was wonderful as the priest and Michal Wincott had a humoursly sadistic little part as the prison warden. Too bad Caviezal couldn't hold up to the rest of the cast.
Oh yes, and one other thing...if you're going to chande every thing but the names of the characters...the least you could to is pronounce the names right. It's FRENCH people!! The name Dantes is pronounced Dante!! Please...I was wincing every time they said his name. If they insist on butchering the book...can they not at least get the names rightf?
On the upside, it was beautifully filmed and the costumes were lovelly. As I have said, the supporting cast was excellant (although Mercedes looked a bit to much like Dantes for my taste)and it was because of them that I enjoyed the movie. It is traditional cookie-cutter Hollywood with very bad bad-guys and very good good-guys, revenge, love...oh yeah and they had to toss in a bit of religion, annoying, but not overbearing...if you want to be entertained, the movie will do so...if you want a good movie...look elsewhere.
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le 13 juin 2004
I must confess that I have not read the book that this movie is based on. I did enjoy the few Dumas stories I have read, though. Most people that give this movie a big thumbs down have read the book and, rather unrealistically, expect a perfect translation of a 900+ page book into a film with a run time of just over 2 hours. Obviously, that's not going to happen. So I'll just tackle the film itself.
The Count of Monte Cristo hit the theaters in early 2002, arriving with all the fanfare of...well, you know when the grocery store gets a new shipment of cereal? Less than that. But sometimes the smallest splashes result in the greatest impacts. The Count of Monte Cristo came out and reminded the few who saw it that a movie can have a great, cohesive story with superior acting and entertain without being either pretentiously arty or exceptionally lowbrow. As I said, all of the actors are great: Jim Caviezel, Guy Pearce, Richard Harris, Tom Everett Scott, Luis Guzman, Michael Wincott, etc.
If you're looking for an accurate adaptation of the novel, this probably isn't your place, but if you're looking for an entertaining, epic film with action, intrigue, betrayal, revenge, and even a dash of comedy, you can't do much better than The Count.
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le 5 juin 2004
I read The Count of Monte Cristo as a teenager as well as everything else Duma Pere wrote, and ,even though the movie does differ in ways from the book- I have no problem with this. This gorgeously rendered movie tells the story of a very young Edmond Dantes ( a French sailor , second mate) and his betrayal by his " good friend " ( the young nobleman Mondego) and others. The movie is well paced , wonderfully acted, and the settings are haunting. Dagmara Dominczyc and James Caviezel make a beautiful "screen" couple with their gorgeous dark good looks, and I do wish their love story has been more drawn out ( selfish of me I know, but I didn't want it to end). Caviezel morphs easily into the enigmatic Count ( with the help of a limitedless fortune and the Abbe Farrias ( played by the great Richard Harris) prison tutoring)and is at his swashbuckling best. Thank God not too much sword play though - just enough to make it interesting. The embittered , but not totally hardened, Count exacts his revenge ( aided by his ever faithful servant- friend, Jacopo ( excellently played by Luis Guzman)but learns in the end that vengeance really is best left to God.The bad guys deserved what they got though and it was fun seeing them get it! Edmond begins to see the light when his beloved Mercedes (and the son he didn't know he had). are almost killed because of him.All comes right in the end. What a wonderful adaptation and a " feel good" movie to boot. And in these terrible days - what wrong with that!This movie should have garnered some awards ...definitely.
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le 20 mai 2004
Based on the Dumas story, this fabulous adventure about a naive, illiterate young man in 19th century France whose fate embroils him in treachery and vengeance, is well written with wit and intelligence, and abridges a complex plot into a cohesive 131 minute film.
The location cinematography in Malta and Ireland is spectacular, though my one and only complaint about this film is that occasionally some of the indoor sequences tend to be a little murky.
The soundtrack by Edward Shearmur is also top-notch, and adds a lot to the film.
The cast:
Jim Caviezel brilliantly captures the essence of the Dantes/Count character; believable both as the innocent Edmund and the worldly Count of Monte Cristo, with his swashbuckling prowess and elegant style.
Richard Harris as the priest who mentor Dantes is marvelous; wily and wise, it's a perfect part for Harris, and he makes the most of it.
Other standout performances come from Guy Peerce as Fernand, Michael Wincott as Armand Dorelac, the Warden of d'If, and most of all, Luis Guzman as a very funny Jacopo.
This is terrific family viewing, free of the plague of foul language and heavy breathing between the sheets that have made films so tiresome in recent years. This film will feed your brain, delight your eyes, and raise your heartbeat a little with its fast-paced exploits about "kings and pawns, emperors and fools".
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le 22 avril 2004
A film by Kevin Reynolds
This is the recent film adaptation of Dumas's classic novel "The Count of Monte Cristo". From the previews and early reviews of the movie I did not expect too much from it, but when someone whose opinion I trust tells me that it is good and that I should watch it, I was willing to give it a chance. Good thing, because this is a pretty good movie.
The story, if you are not familiar with the source material, follows Edmond Dantes (Jim Caviezel). Dantes, in the film, is a sailor and the film opens with Dantes and his friend Fernand Mondego (Guy Pierce) trying find refuge on an island because their captain is dying. The island just happens to be the prison island where Napoleon is exiled, and while they get help, Napoleon asks Dantes if he could take a personal, and innocent, letter to a friend. Dantes agrees. Dantes returns to France and does not have a chance to deliver the letter, though we do see his fiancé Mercedes Iguanada (Dagmara Dominczyk) and a little bit of Mondego's jealousy. Dantes is betrayed and turned into the authorities for treason. That innocent letter that Dantes was to deliver was not so innocent after all. The magistrate has Dantes thrown in prison where he will spend the next several years.
This is where the movie truly begins. Dantes was innocent and he was betrayed (we soon learn that Mondego is now married to Mercedes), and he wants his revenge, though he has no avenue to pursue his revenge while in prison. While in prison, Dantes meets Abbe Faria (Richard Harris), a man who is digging a tunnel (slowly, inch by inch) to escape. Faria trains Dantes in the sword, teaches him how to read, science, literature, politics, and how to be a noble. He also tells Dantes of a treasure, the treasure of Monte Cristo, that may or may not exist.
We wouldn't have a story if Dantes is unable to escape or pursue his revenge, so I'm not spoiling anything by revealing that. Dantes sets himself up as the Count of Monte Cristo with the help of a man named Jacopo (Luis Guzman). Dantes is now free to pursue his revenge.
The story feels like it has been simplified a little bit, but this film is good enough, and slick enough, and entertaining enough, that this is a very enjoyable movie to watch. No film can ever capture the nuance of a novel, especially not a 1000 page novel. With the amount of time allotted this film, "The Count of Monte Cristo" succeeds at being an entertaining film.
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