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The Count of Monte Cristo

Starring Jim Caviezel and Guy Pierce; Dagmara Dominczyk
Screenplay by Jay Wolpert
Based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas
Directed by Kevin Reynolds

IN SHORT: Everything you go to the movies for. [Rated PG-13 for adventure violence/swordplay and some sensuality. 131 minutes]

Lest any purist take insult at the omission of the name Alexandre Dumas from the advertising for this movie, he is properly credited at the main titles: Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo, which is a bit unwieldy when squeezed into a space the size of a newspaper column. That being said, we don't make comparisons to Source Material, though we will note that this adaptation comes dangerously close to overstuffing its platter. Let's make a list shall we?

Two men in love with the same woman. A friendship destroyed. A life ruined. Charges of treason and exile to a dark, dank foreign prison. A couple of duels to the death. A treasure map. A treasure. A daring jailbreak. Not to mention the ever popular love promised and bound up by a thread story, locations spanning the Old World and about as much action as you can pack into two hours. Yep, that about sums about The Count of Monte Cristo which, fully aware that it is the (great) grandfather of action stories -- meaning that if you've never read the book, you've probably seen many of its plot twists lifted for dozens of other movies -- still pokes fun at itself and yields a great entertainment.

Jim Caviezel and Guy Pearce star as Edmond Dantes and Fernand Mondega, the former a commoner who has worked his way up to the captaincy of his own ship, the latter the son of a nobleman. Both are in love with the lovely Mercedes (Dagmara Dominczyk) who prefers the regular guy. Mondega, in conspiracy with Danglars (Albie Woodington), the First Mate of the ship Dantes has been given, frames his friend for treason -- this involves the imprisoned French emperor Napoleon, so don't miss the opening credits -- and "wins" the lady. Dantes is never seen again. Not as "Dantes".

Imprisoned at a place called Chateau d'If, tortured by the warden (Michael Wincott) and befriended by another prisoner (Richard Harris, whose presence adds class to every project he does) Dantes is taught to read and write and fight like a gentleman. There's also the matter of tunneling to freedom, the retrieval of a stolen treasure and plans for revenge. We're not going to move farther along the plot path, which involves smugglers and duels and the creation of a new identity (the Count of the title) and revenge; just buy the big popcorn and check the real world at the door.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Count of Monte Cristo, he would have paid . . .


There comes a point, a bit more than halfway through, where squeezing in as much of the book as possible becomes a bit unwieldy. The Count of Monte Cristo is a good sit, but falls a hair shy of mandating that you stay in your seat.

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