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Count Of Monte Cristo, The (2002) Print E-mail
Thursday, 22 September 2011
Image“The Count Of Monte Cristo” is a motion picture re-telling of the classic novel by Alexandre Dumas.  While feelings on the outcome of the film range from so-so to enthusiastic, it is one of Kevin Reynolds better films.

Kevin Reynolds has not had a very distinguishing career.  He has been sort of typecasted as a director due to the flop of “Waterworld.”  For me, Reynolds shining moment is “Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves.”  Coming in a close second to that film is “The Count Of Monte Cristo.”

The film is the story of Dantes (Jim Caviezel), a french sailor, wrongfully accused of treason.  An elaborate plot led to his accusation, and even more elaborate plot awaits those that betrayed him.  After his escape from prison, he vows to exact revenge on those that stole his life.  Among these people are his ex-best friend and the chief prosecutor.  He studies his enemies, learning their weaknesses.

The film is full of adventure, intrigue and cleverness.  While some of the acting might be a bit on the overdone side of things, the film succeeds on its merits.  For a complete review of the film click here.

Fans of the film who have awaited its Blu-ray release are going to be disappointed when it comes to the video quality.  Given this is a Disney subsidiary studio transfer (Touchstone), I expected much more, especially given the video quality of fellow Blu-ray release “O Brother, Where Art Thou?.”  Alas, it seems that the Blu-ray video transfer was taken from the DVD transfer.  Both releases retain the same problem – lack of contrast.  “The Count Of Monte Cristo” has terrific costumes and sets, but the lack of any pop in the image is whole-heartedly disappointing.  I suspect some of this has to do with the original production and cinematography.  However, with modern digital tools it is possible to rectify the contrast levels and give the image more depth and vibrancy.  The colors in the daylight sequences are typically above average, providing the liveliest video images throughout the film.  Overall, the image is rather soft and dusty.  Details can be exceptional, but most often they are covered under a veil of murky, almost fog layer.  A fine layer of grain is present throughout, providing some texture.  Nighttime sequences are a weak point in this transfer.  Shadow delineation is usually lost and black levels result in crush.  All this isn’t to say that this is a terrible transfer, it is just that it is far from being a definitive archive for the film. The audio is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1 and is better than the video quality and its lossy DVD audio counterpart.  However, the track suffers from inconsistency.  Dialogue remains clear and present throughout, but the weight of the dialogue fluctuates too much.  This wasn’t a problem in the lossy Dolby track as frequency masking balances this issue out.  However, in the lossless audio track is quite apparent that ADR takes place on numerous occasions, which is typical, but it is usually masked better than this.  So, this is a post-production issue and not an issue with the transfer.  The LFE signals is not as strong as I would have liked, but we can’t always get what we wish for.  The directionality and panning of the rear soundfield is hit or miss, mainly due to original sound design.  When the surround channels are active effects are pleasantly convincing.  The ambience in the rear channels is not as strong or detailed as it could be.  This track won’t blow your socks off, but it will get the job done.

The Blu-ray release of the film comes with the same special features that are on the previous standard DVD release.  All bonus materials remain in standard definition.

Bonus materials on this Blu-ray include - the director audio commentary; four featurettes discussing the original book, screenwriting, production design and stunt choreography; “En Garde,” a sword fighting multi-angle feature; deleted scenes; and Layer-By-Layer: Sound Design.”

The latter feature is the best for those interesting sound design.  The only new bonus material on the disc is included in the deleted scene section.  Previously there were four deleted scenes.  A fifth deleted scene has been added that is tagged as an alternate ending, which is so horrible that it should have been burned.

“The Count Of Monte Cristo” is an adventurous film that deserved better audio and video quality transfers.  The star of the film still remains Richard Harris, our beloved Dumbledore in one of his final film appearances.  Fans will have to pick this one up, but most will just want to give it a rent.

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