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The Count of Monte Cristo
DVD disk
10.08.2004 By: The Arrow
The Count of Monte Cristo order
Director:
Kevin Reynolds

Actors:
James Caviezel
Guy Pearce
Richard Harris

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Based on Alexandre Dumas' classic tale of love, betrayal and revenge, young Edmund (Caviezel) is falsely imprisoned due to his jealous and sneaky friend’s (Pearce) treachery. In the process, he loses his honey-bunny gal and his sanity. But with the help of a fellow inmate (Harris), Edmund eventually escapes the remote jail and with the financial aid of a hidden treasure, returns to the world as a powerful count. He then proceeds to meticulously exact his wrath against the folks who wronged him and yes...what goes around, comes around. “En guarde!”
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Having read and loved the massive block of a book on which this movie is based when I was a wee boy, I came into this film with high expectations. Well, I’m happy to report that I wasn’t disappointed when the end credits rolled. Sure, the film does take some liberties in regards to the book, but that was to be expected. How else can you translate a 1000-page novel into a 2 hour+ flick? What was important to me was that the movie stayed true to its source on a thematic level and this cinematic version did just that. The theme of revenge is one we can all relate to in one way or another and personally it never fails to move me. This movie managed to capture its essence and I savored every tasty moment of vengeance, much like the film's protagonist. The impeccable acting is also one of the film’s sharpest blades. All involved do solid jobs in bringing to life the well written script. Caviezel is flat-out captivating as the wronged hero and I relished watching his evolution throughout the piece. Pearce is also a delight as the “Lago”-like villain who is driven by jealousy and greed.

We also get some memorable supporting shows by the likes of Luis Guzman (Jacopo) who is all menacing charm, Richard Harris (Faria) who provides some comic relief and Michael Wincott (Dorleac) who had me on the floor with his deadpan evil antics. The film’s only weakness would actually be the love story, not really in the way that it is written but more so in how it’s communicated. The character of Mercedes always felt drowned out by the stronger leading men around her and that slightly hurt the love angle of the film. Maybe with a more stellar actress than Dagmara Dominczyk, the part would’ve shined through more. But all in all, THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO is a dazzling and engrossing high class adventure that’s well worth sitting through. There’s something for everyone here: an epic like feel, stunning visuals, grandiose landscapes, engaging action sequences, a love story and edge-of-your-seat swordplay. Count on a good time at the movies!
THE EXTRAS
Audio Commentary (feature length): Director Kevin Reynolds covers everything in this compelling commentary from locations, specific shots, the differences between the book and the script, the actors, the approach he took to convey this timeless tale and lots of behind the scenes trivia. A hefty commentary that seldom stops for a pee break and that is also a good substitute for film school. Good work Reynolds!

An Epic Reborn: These are 4 featurettes which we can either watch individually or all together. The Pen gives us some insight on famous writer Alexandre Dumas’ background, Adapting a Classic has screenwriter Jay Wolpert discussing how he approached the adaptation of the book to screenplay, The Napoleonic World has director Kevin Reynolds discussing the search for the proper locations, while the actors give their two cents on how it felt shooting there, while The Clash of Steel takes a look at the sword training and has the actors speaking about the experience. These 4 featurettes are fairly informative and interesting to watch. The only one I didn’t dig was The Pen which felt like a history lesson to me. Yes, I flunked history… (~ 34 minutes)

Deleted Scenes: We get a general intro by Kevin Reynolds and his editor, who give us their brief insight on the editing process and then get to watch 4 deleted scenes with either an intro by them preceding the actual scene or a commentary running over the scene explaining their reasonings behind the cut. Reynolds does most of the talking in this involving, from a filmmaking point of view, feature. Future filmmakers…take notes!

En Guarde: Multi Angle Dailies: Here, we get to see dailies of the final swordfight with commentary by Kevin Reynolds addressing the action and the reasons behind the camera angles while the scene takes place. This cool feature allows us to watch two camera angles at the same time and Reynolds’ insight is food for thought on a technical filmmaking standpoint. Again…future filmmakers...take notes! (~ 3 minutes)

Layer by layer: Sound designs: This feature allows us to watch the scene where Edmund escapes and with our AUDIO button, either select to only hear the composite track, the dialogue track, the music track or the sound effects track as the scene rolls on. An okay feature that’s fun once.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO gave me a full meal and I didn’t even need dessert once it was over. The DVD itself delivers in the EXTRAS department (the commentary is a keeper), although a little more substantial behind-the-scenes feature would’ve been nice. I’m always a sucker for those standard “Making of” features. As for the film, well...it aims to please with its love story, its themes of betrayal/revenge, its bang-on acting, its engaging fight sequences and its grandiose backdrops. All in all, an awesome film and an able DVD. Count on this one for unadulterated entertainment.
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