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The Count of Monte Cristo(2002)
Betrayed by his childhood friend Fernand, sailor Edmond Dantes is found guilty of trumped-up charges and sent to the island prison of Chateau d'If. Thirteen years later, having learnt the art of fencing from the Abbé Faria, a fellow inmate who also revealed to him the location of a vast treasure hidden on the island of Monte Cristo, Edmond realises that the time has come and carries out a daring escape attempt. Taking the treasure for himself, he reappears as the Count of Monte Cristo and becomes the talk of Parisian society; but he soon learns that Fernand has married Mercédès, Edmond's own childhood sweetheart, and starts drawing up his plans for revenge.
For more about The Count of Monte Cristo and the The Count of Monte Cristo Blu-ray release, see the The Count of Monte Cristo Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on November 6, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Christopher Adamson, JB Blanc, Guy Carleton (I), Barry Cassin, Jim Caviezel, Henry Cavill
Director: Kevin Reynolds
» See full cast & crew
The Count of Monte Cristo Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, November 6, 2011
Kevin Reynolds ' "The Count of Monte Cristo" (2002) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Disney/Buena Vista. The supplemental features on the disc include deleted and alternate scenes with audio commentary by director Kevin Reynolds and editor Stephen Semel; four featurettes; multi-camera look at the finale; alternative audio tracks for a specific scene; and an audio commentary by director Kevin Reynolds. In English, with optional English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles for the main feature. Region-Free.
Note: This review contains spoilers. Please avoid reading it if you have never before read Alexandre Dumas' classic novel or seen the various film adaptations of the novel that exist.
The story is legendary. Young and poor sailor Edmond Dantes (Jim Caviezel, The Thin Red Line, The Passion of the Christ) is falsely accused of treason by his best friend, Fernand Mondego (Guy Pearce, Memento, The Proposition), after they are forced to seek help for their seriously ill captain on the Mediterranean island of Elba, where Napoleon Bonaparte (Alex Norton, Clear and Present Danger) is held captive. Before they leave Elba, Napoleon Bonaparte gives Edmond a letter meant for one of his confidants in Marseilles. Without knowing how dangerous its message is, Edmond foolishly agrees to deliver it.
In Marseilles, Edmond is offered to replace his dead captain - a reward for his courageous decision to seek help on Elba. He immediately accepts the promotion and rushes to share the terrific news with his beautiful fiancée Mercedes (Dagmara Dominczyk, They, Helena From the Wedding), who is entertained by Fernand. It is only a matter of months now before Edmond can afford to buy Mercedes a ring and then marry her. Filled with jealousy, Fernand informs the French authorities that Edmond carries a letter from Napoleon Bonaparte and he is immediately arrested.
The chief of police, J.F. Vilefort (James Frain, Reindeer Games), takes a personal interest in Dantes. After he reads Napoleon Bonaparte's letter, he quickly orders that Dantes is sent to the notorious Chateau d'If. Thirteen years later, Dantes manages to escape with the help of another prisoner, an old a seriously sick priest (Richard Harris, Mutiny on the Bounty, Red Desert), who shares an important secret with him shortly before he dies.
On the day when he escapes Chateau d'If, Dantes is captured by a group of pirates, who are getting ready to execute one of their own men, Jacopo (Luis Guzmán, Carlito's Way, Boogie Nights), because he has cheated them. The leader of the pirates, Luigi Vampa (JB Blanc, Tristan + Isolde), offers Dantes a deal he cannot refuse - fight Jacopo, kill him and become a free man, or choose not to and get killed by the pirates. Dantes wins the fight with Jacopo but spares his life and joins the pirates. Jacopo also swears to be his best man until the day he dies.
Soon after, Dantes and Jacopo part ways with the pirates and head back to Marseille. There they discover that Fernand has become Count Mondego and married the beautiful Mercedes, while Vilefort has moved up the social ladder and relocated to Paris. Then, with the little money they have, they buy a boat and head to the tiny island of Monte Cristo, where according to the priest Dantes befriended on Chateau d'If the Spada treasure is hidden. The two men discover the treasure and Dantes becomes the Count of Monte Cristo, an indescribably wealthy man looking for revenge.
Kevin Reynolds' The Count of Monte Cristo is an entertaining film with some surprisingly good performances but clearly not a match for Josée Dayan's spectacular TV mini-series adaptation of the classic Alexandre Dumas novel. Here the story is essentially broken into large episodes that only highlight some of the great twists during Dantes' quest for revenge.
In Dayan's adaptation, Dantes (played by Gerard Depardieu) is a wilder and meaner man. His character transformation is also a lot more dramatic and intense, irreversibly affecting the people around him before and after he becomes the Count of Monte Cristo. Caviezel's Dantes is a quiet and subdued man who knows how to control his anger. Unsurprisingly, his character transformation is not as impressive.
It is difficult to blame the actors, however, because they must accomplish a lot for a limited amount of time. And this isn't easy, because the script is extremely tight and the action moves at an unacceptable for this specific film pace. Naturally, the complex relationships which make the story of the Count of Monte Cristo so fascinating to behold simply begin to collapse during the second half of the film (a perfect example is the scene where the Count of Monte Cristo rediscovers his love for Mercedes again).
The period costumes and decors are beautiful but often a bit over the top (see the balloon sequence). On the other hand, the duels and fights are handled pretty well.
The Count of Monte Cristo Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with VC-1 and granted a 1080p transfer, Kevin Reynolds' The Count of Monte Cristo arrives on Blu-ray courtesy Disney/Buena Vista.
The high-definition transfer used for this release might have been acceptable in early 2007, but in late 2011 clearly it is not - it is too inconsistent and too shaky, too soft and too filtered. To be honest, I would not be surprised if it was sourced from the same master the studio used for their DVD release of the film, which arrived on the market in 2002.
Detail and clarity fluctuate a lot. A few of the many close-ups in the film look rather decent (see screencapture #14), but the majority are disappointingly soft and filtered (see screencapture #11). The footage from Chateau d'If also looks anemic and soft, at times even notably dark. Before Edmond Dantes is arrested, there are also entire sequences where definition is completely lost. The daylight sequences generally look better, but again, the filtering is often overwhelming (see screencapture #16). Colors are also never as vibrant and lush as they should be, particularly during the final third of the film. The bigger your screen is, the easier it will be for you to also see a good dose of light noise and plenty of compression artifacts popping up throughout the entire film (see screencapture #19). All in all, there are still some small benefits here - for instance, the transfer is free of the macroblocking patterns that plague the DVD release - but the presentation is clearly not as good as it could and should have been. (Note: This is a Region-Free Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you will be able to play it on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location).
The Count of Monte Cristo Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are three audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0. For the record, Disney/Buena Vista have provided optional English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles for the main feature.
The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is strong. The bass is potent and punchy, the rear channels quite effective, and the high-frequencies not distorted. Clearly, during a lot of the action scenes there is plenty of depth and crispness that is simply missing on the DVD release of the film (if you still have the DVD, compare the opening scene where the soldiers fire at Dantes and Mondego). The dialog also appears better balanced with Ed Shearmur's score and easier to follow (on the DVD release I always had trouble with Dominczyk's lines). For the record, I did not detect any disturbing pops, cracks, sync issues or audio dropouts to report in this review.
The Count of Monte Cristo Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Count of Monte Cristo Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
In my opinion, the best adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' classic novel remains Josée Dayan's nearly 7-hour long terrific TV mini-series, starring Gerard Depardieu, Ornella Muti, and Jean Rochefort. While rather entertaining, Kevin Reynolds' The Count of Monte Cristo will likely impress only those who have never read the novel and are unaware how far more richer and complex the story of Edmond Dantes is. The film is worth seeing but probably only once. The Blu-ray disc herein reviewed, courtesy of Disney/Buena Vista, is rather problematic. I would recommend upgrading your DVDs only if you find it on sale.
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The Count of Monte Cristo Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Count of Monte Cristo Blu-ray - June 21, 2011
Director Kevin Reynolds' swashbuckling adventure The Count of Monte Cristo will hit Blu-ray this fall, courtesy of Disney and Touchstone Pictures. Jim Caviezel (The Thin Red Line) stars as Edmond Dantes, who uses his unjust imprisonment to plot revenge against ...
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