23 April 2002 | Aidan McGuinness
Prepare for adventure. Count on enjoying this.
"The Count of Monte Cristo" is exactly what I expected it to be - entertaining. A classic? No. However it's far from a dud, and you could do a lot worse if you want to whittle away a bit of time watching a movie.
The movie version of the book leaves a bare bones plot, which is quite simple. Edmond Dantes (James Caviezel) is falsely imprisoned for treason, having been blackmailed by his friend Fernand Mondego (Guy Pearce) who covets Dantes' wife-to-be. Queue languishment in prison where he plots his escape and his ultimate revenge on Dantes in a highly fashionable style.
This movie is a neat little adaptation of the novel, seeing as it manages to retain some great pacing on screen. At times, admittedly, you feel there's certain pieces rushed (particularly towards the end as Dantes' plan unveils), but since it suffices to keep the story moving along swiftly that's OK. The script is nice and witty - there's a real sense of fun permeating the movie. While Caviezel is a serious actor, Guy Pearce is obviously loving his role as the dastardly Mondego, hamming and camping it up with a glee that's delightful to behold - he steals the screen every time he's on it. Other members of the cast similarily light up the movie, particularly Luis Guzmán as Dantes' side-kick Jacopo, and a wonderful turn by Richard Harris as the high-camp -prison-warder Abbé Faria (I found him hilariously nasty).
The direction on the movie is nice and smooth - there's no need for any fancy trickery here on the part of Kevin Reynolds. Indeed the smooth almost gentle nature of it all, including well paced sword fights, is a nice change from some of the more overly-excessive energetic work of today's movies.
Is the movie perfect? No. It's not smart enough, or quite well made enough for that. But it is a hell of a lot of fun, and most certainly enjoyable - and that's often all you want. With it's great sense of fun, and some lovely performances throughout, it's a worthwhile diversion for a while. I'll give it a 7.8.