The Count Of Monte Cristo (2002)

(In theaters, March 2002) For some reason, swashbuckling adventure is a genre that, if well-executed, never fails to set my spirits soaring. The romance, the action, the drama of it all! The Count Of Monte Cristo is the first such good film since 1998’s The Mask Of Zorro and the wait has been worth it. Here, the filmmakers run back to the classics for source material (Alexandre Dumas’ eponymous novel) and run with the concept, producing a film that has the feel of a timeless treat. Jim Caviezel surprises as Edmund Dantes, the innocent-to-awesome hero of the story; while Caviezel’s previous roles have been serviceable but hardly impressive, here he gets the chance to exhibit a great deal of range, strut a badass attitude and triumph against all odds. (He even exhibits a killer goatee) In comparison, even the dependable Guy Pearce is over-staged. (On the other hand, Luis Guzman finally gets a juicy supporting role!) Technically, the film is highly successful, with limpid directing, a good screenplay and top-notch cinematography. Even though the film is a solid 135+ minutes, it feels more epic than overlong. The epitome of good fun for everyone, The Count Of Monte Cristo is an unqualified success. There’s no reason to bitch and moan about the level of quality of Hollywood movies as long as films like this one continue to be released; go, rent, watch and enjoy!

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