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  The Count of Monte Cristo  
  Spyglass Entertainment  
  Kevin Reynolds  
  James Caviezel, Guy Pearce, Richard Harris, James Frain, Dagmara Dominczyk, and Luis Guzmán  
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My birthday recently passed, and i was sitting talking to a few Minions...


What did your girlfriend get you?


She got me the Babbling Boo doll from Monsters, Inc.

  (Blank stare and polite nod.)  

Have you seen Monsters, Inc.?


Oh, okay. What about you? You seen Monsters, Inc. yet?


Evidently, I am failing in my mission to report on movies. I am covered in shame.

*smack, smack*

(And powdered sugar, too, evidently.)


Okay, so we've got one of the great adventure stories of all time, The Count of Monte Cristo, originally written in book form by Alexandre Dumas. Even though that part's French, and the movie takes place in France, and people drink wine out of big brown bottles and write with quills and wear shirts with frills, this movie still makes a good adventure flick. Not necessarily a good action/adventure flick. The word "action" now either means explosions (it got that meaning in the '80's) or people on wires suspended in air kicking other helpless people in the face in slow motion while the camera pans around them (it just got that meaning recently). Not that I don't like action, I do. It's just that there's no kung fu on wires and no high explosives in this movie.

Okay, it's pretty long too: over two hours. And that part right after the beginning, when our hero's in solitary confinement at the prison of the Chateau d'If, it sort of drags. Still, it's establishing mood. You may not appreciate it at the time, but before you leave, you will.

See, there's this guy, Edmond Dantes, and he's a pretty innocent character. Still, he and his friend, the noble-born Fernand Mondego, have a reasonably swashbuckling time on a merchant ship, and are good buddies, as the movie opens. They put in at the island of Elba where the British have imprisoned Emperor Napoleon. Edmond innocently suggested to go there when their ship captain became deathly ill, he innocently takes a letter from Napoleon to deliver, innocently gets promoted by the merchant company chief to captain of the ship for his sheer guts to put in at Elba, which allows him to innocently move his timetable to get married to his true love up two whole years.

Of course, he's going down.

Still, it's interesting to see the transformation of the character from a happy-go-lucky guy who gets betrayed by those whom he thought he could put his trust in (his shipmates, his friend, the law). Sixteen years can give a reasonably bright guy like our hero time to cook up one hell of a revenge. When he alights from his balloon (in his new identity as the Count of Monte Cristo) at the party he's throwing for all his betrayers, you look up at the screen and go, "Ooh, here comes the Devil!"

Truly great adventure. No big-big name actors, so the characters have a little room to breathe. It's not too convoluted; apparently there was some extensive re-telling of the story in order to get it into movie form, but now I want to read the original story, and that's saying something for a French author. Somewhat melodramatic at times, but that's the price you pay for good adventure. You can only have your hero brood for so long before he's compelled to get up and crack some bones in the name of righteous, white-hot revenge.

Good payoff, go see it.

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