Directed by Kevin Reynolds (2002) Starring: Jim Caviezel, Guy Pearce, Richard Harris, Dagmara Dominczyk
It’s weird to be coming off of this after the Harry Potter Hype from this week. Edmund Dantes (Caviezel) in his cell in Chateau d’If just resembles Sirius Black too much, and Richard Harris as the Abbe Faria is, well, Dumbledore. I just kept thinking, “It’s nice that Dumbledore still cares about education while in prison.”
Subtracting these thoughts, The Count of Monte Cristo is a pretty generic adaptation of the Dumas novel. It suffers some pacing issues up to the grand revenge scheme, but there are some nice sword fighting scenes. I irritably ignored the costuming inaccuracies in order to enjoy Pearce’s scenery-chewing.
One of the film’s choices that I can’t really put my finger on is that it seems really sanitized. It’s a story about epic revenge, but it pushes the Christianity angle a little too hard for a little too long to then allow Dantes to get away scot free at the end. The final scene is the carving on his cell wall: “God Will Give Me Justice.” But God had no part in it, and Dantes doesn’t get much in terms of comeuppance. While it’s nice to see a man get everything he had wanted and more, it seems like a weaker plot to then turn around and remember that he has a soul.
But why dig that deep? Alexandre Dumas wrote adventure stories, sprawling novels and their sequels about honorable and hasty men with swords, thrown into circumstances that were often beyond their control. I might as well remember this movie as such, where men with swords run around and give elegant speeches on honor.