The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Cast: Jim Caviezel, Guy Pearce, Richard Harris, Dagmara Dominczyk, Luis Guzmán
Extras: Commentary Track, Deleted Scenes, Featurettes, Multi-angle Segment

Based on Alexandre Dumas’ novel of the same name, this is a new adaptation of the book for the big screen. Starring Jim Caviezel and Guy Pearce in the leads the films is surprisingly faithful to the novel and entirely resists the temptation to ’update’ or ’contemporize’ the material like many modern day remakes like to do by filling it up with gratuitous special effects or idiotic out-of-context martial arts moves. The result is a refreshingly faithful and atmospheric movie – though not without flaws. Especially the Hollywood ending is a bit thick, and one could argue that the film’s pacing is a bit too slow to maintain the suspense it sets out to create.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment is sending this DVD in the race with its original 1.85:1 widescreen transfer, THX-certified and enhanced for 16×9 TV sets. The transfer is clean and reveals a high level of detail. Though some slight edge-enhancement is evident on occasion, the transfer is natural-looking and sharp. Colors are nicely reproduced and present the viewer with nicely delineated hues and shades. The black level is very good, creating deep shadows that never lose definition and impenetrable, solid blacks. The compression takes very good care of the presentation and is free of compression artifacts, always ensuring to maintain the high level of definition found in the picture.

’The Count of Monte Cristo’ comes with a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital audio track and a French Dolby Surround language track. The audio is making very good use of the surround and engages all channels very frequently and too good effect. The frequency response is wide and creates a solid sound stage with deep basses and clear high ends, entirely free of distortion. The dynamic range is very wide leaving plenty of headroom for the explosive moments of the film, as well as the subtle ambient and silent passages.

The DVD contains a commentary track by director Kevin Reynolds. It is an interesting track that offers good information, conveyed in an enjoyable and entertaining manner. Four deleted scenes with optional commentary by the director are also part of the disc, as well as a series of featurettes covering various aspects of the production. You will get to see a multi-angle feature about the swordfighting in the movie, complemented by a featurette on the film’s stunts, as well as a behind-the-scenes featurette about the production deign of the film.
A segment about the challenges to bring a classic novel to the screen and an informative retrospective on author Alexandre Dumas are also part of the release.

’The Count of Monte Cristo’ is a classic adventure movie and it is an entertaining one. The DVD has been put together very carefully and contains bonus materials that nicely supplement the feature presentation. The movie itself is presented in a flawless fashion on the disc, making sure that fans of the film will get the most out of this release. Check it out. I’m sure you will enjoy these 2 hours of swashbuckling adventure.