Movie Review by Dr Kuma
Starring: Guy Pearce, James Caviezel, J B Blanc, Henry Cavill, Dagmara Dominczyk
Director: Kevin Reynolds
Alexander Duma’s oft’ filmed tale is the story of an innocent man Edmond Dantes (Jim Caviezel) wrongly (but deliberately) imprisoned by those he thought as friends and confidants (including Guy Pearce).
Imprisoned in the Chateau D’If, Edmond is trapped for 13 years with only the thought of revenge keeping him alive. After years alone Edmond meets a fellow inmate, a priest (Richard Harris), who has tunnelled into Dantes’ cell while digging a tunnel looking to escape. The joy of human contact is a breath of life to both parties and the priest starts teaching Dantes to read and write in addition to other things he has never studied. More importantly for Dantes, the priest also teaches him how to use a sword. In return he helps the priest with his tunnel. It is this story that takes up the first part of the film and the pairing of the excellent Caviezel (in the role it seems he was born to play) and the always-superb Harris are both touching and amusing. The audience becomes as enlightened as our hero on screen. Of course, we the audience do have the privilege of seeing what happens in the outside world while our hero is trapped in the Chateau D’If and we know that when Dantes escapes he will not like what he finds. This only adds to the tension.
Once Dantes does escape, we follow him on several adventures before he returns home to find that his best friend has betrayed him and has married the love of his life (the main reason for the initial betrayal). Although all seems lost, Dantes has found an incredible horde of treasure from a map, which was given to him by the priest in the Chateau D’If (The main reason why he was imprisoned is because he refused to admit its existence, although legend has it that a map did exist. Over the years the priest has been forgotten, which enables Dantes to search for the treasure once again, without any obstacles). The treasure gives Dantes and the colleagues he has met on his travels unlimited funds to plot the downfall of those who conspired against him and this he does, although there lie several surprises ahead, which I will leave you to find out if you haven’t read the novel.
Although the story has been filmed several times, this version stands up there with the best. I had a horrible feeling that it would end up looking like something that should have been consigned to a two-part adventure filmed by the BBC for Sunday evening viewers. What I was suprised to find is that this old fashioned film stood up and surpassed the best shoot em up’s and thrillers of recent months. It’s as good as any adventure you’ll see for your admission fee. The entire cast is excellent and the direction by Kevin Reynolds (ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES) is simple but really effective. Set designs, costumes and, most important of all, the fight scenes really add to the feeling of the era it is all set in. It really does exude a realistic feel, which helps our appreciation of the story.
All in all, this is an excellent way to spend an afternoon at the cinema in the way it used to be – paying your money to see a period drama that really does take us on a trip into the true heart of adventure.
Dr Kuma’s verdict: A swash that doesn’t buckle under it’s own weight – a classic story that is given full justification by an excellent transfer onto the big screen. Go and see it and escape.