(For ease of typing, and because the captions didn't use them either, I'm omitting accent marks.)
The Count of Monte Cristo
Starring Jim Caviezel & Guy Pearce
131 minutes (2 hrs. 11 min.)
After reading the novel and seeing the French mini-series, I have to declare this adaptation a complete failure. The plot is revised into a stereotypical swashbuckling adventure and the characters are flat (most of the interesting side characters are gone anyway). The movie is basically a cross between trashy action flick and trashy chick flick. Frankly, I'm disgusted.
Just from the DVD cover and blurb, I could tell that things were unpromising. Let me refer to the changelog: Dantes takes Napoleon's letter because he's a foolish, naïve idiot. Mercedes marries Mondego for an oh-so-convenient reason that keeps her from being a realistic woman who might seek comfort in whoever is available--no, she's a noble saint pretending not to be a foolish, naïve idiot (she also has no will of her own and is played by a terrible actress). Fernand and Mercedes do not have a meaningful relationship; he's unfaithful from the start and doesn't keep it a secret. Fernand Mondego is now Dantes's best friend, yet he thinks nothing of betrayal. Caderousse, Ali, Haydee, Valentine, and Maximilian are all cut. Dantes isn't arrested at his wedding but at a simple celebratory dinner, and instead of engaging in respectable duels, he has long, drawn-out swordfights with Mondego (having found out his friend before entering the Chateau d'If). Let's not forget Luigi Vampa acting double duty as the smuggler camptain, and Jacopo being indistinguishable from Vampa in personality. And the sadistic prison warden who likes whipping prisoners on the anniversary of their imprisonment.
All complexity is painted over with broad strokes of black and white, replaced by cliché character roles and trite dialogue. I'm not even going to go into character motivations, magically dis/reappearing foreign accents, and the usual reunion happy ending. Though it played to the popular crowd, the Bravo mini-series had its merits in faithfulness and memorable characters, with an earned ending. This movie, on the other hand, does not deserve to call itself The Count of Monte Cristo
A list of related links is on the novel review