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The trouble with this "re-imagining" (to borrow a phrase from Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes) is that it's never quite sure whether to take itself seriously or not. Alexandre Dumas's original story is a traditionally melodramatic tale of deceit and double-crossing, with clear-cut bad guys and a moral lesson to be learned at the end. Here, director Kevin Reynolds appears unsure about whether to stick with tradition or bring the story up to date and turn it into a post-modern play on the old Victorian values and style. When the Count and his heavy-breathing loved one are reunited, their kiss is actually framed as a cameo. Both lead actors are also prone to heavy bouts of overacting, garnishing their performances with exaggerated baroque gestures.
Clearly this is a film in which the actors could over-indulge themselves and (almost) get away with it, were it not for the fact that--bar Richard Harris as the "Priest"--none of them seem to have the faintest idea about how to conduct themselves in a period drama. This Count of Monte Cristo will leave the audience a little confused as to whether they should cry along with the story or laugh along with the actors. --Nikki Disney
On the DVD: The Count of Monte Cristo on disc offers no escape from the dry drawl of director Kevin Reynolds, who features in almost every element of the extensive extras package. With a shy studio disclaimer before his commentary, he's got a refreshingly frank attitude to explaining a movie's making. Also included are details of the ambitious swordfight choreography, the origins and adaptation of Dumas's classic book and how the sound was developed as well as a behind-the-scenes feature on location. Quite often the footage feels like a tourism promo for Malta. The 5.1 sound mix is superbly utilised (when Reynolds isn't talking) and the transfer (1.85:1) is as pristine as you'd hope and expect. --Paul Tonks
Of the direction, after a few (well deserved, have you seen Waterworld?) years in the wilderness, Kevin Reynolds has made a decent movie again, and thankfully Kevin Costner's nowhere in sight. It looks great, the underworld rescue of Fernand's son by Dantes is really well done, shadows everywhere, and Monte Cristo's first appearance (by balloon) is also great to watch, slow, majestic, with a sea of awed French aristocrats staring up at this flying man.
Jim Caveziel is fantastic as the brooding, obssessed Edmond Dantes, although the script lets him down, which is where my main complaint come in: we are left without the deep insight into the mind of a man so whole heartedly bent on revenge that a longer, less Hollywood film might have given us, and that the tv version, with Depardieu, certainly did. It is too simplistic, Caveziel does his best, which is certainly good enough, but more care and attention to detail if you please. Oh, and while we're on the subject of complaints, I wanted more sword fights! A childish request I know, but like I said, I like seeing a good sword fight on screen.
As far as the rest of the cast goes, Guy Pearce seems determined to rank alongside Alan Rickman as a movie villain, and hams it up very entertainingly, with an amazing bouffant hairdo, achieved through 18th century hairdryers, i have no doubt.Read more ›
Based on the classic Alexandre Dumas book of the same name, it is the story of lowly born Edmond Dantes who, whilst diligently working his way up the social ladder by hard work and honesty is betrayed by his so-called fiend, the Count of Morcerf Fernand Mondego. Mondego is green with envy and more than a little enraptured by Dantes's fiancée, the stunning Mercedes Iguanada and once Dantes is out of the way he wastes no time in moving in on the now available Mercedes.
Poor old Edmond is not only out of the way, he is sent to the infamous prison castle of Chateau D'If where the prisoners are beaten every year on their anniversary of incarceration to remind them of the time they have been behind bars. Fortunately for Edmond he receives a "visit" by fellow prisoner Abbe Faria, an ex-soldier and priest, who not only is digging a tunnel out of the prison but also undertakes to teach the naïve Edmond lessons in subjects as diverse as sword fighting, economics, unarmed combat and reading and writing.
To tell any more of the plot would ruin the film, but suffice to say that what follows in a entertaining roller coaster ride of fun and adventure as Edmond, recreated as the Count of Monte Cristo, plans to extract his revenge on those who have betrayed him.
One of the best things about the film is that the cast, whilst being fairly familiar to cinema fans, are not big major stars.Read more ›