The Count of Monte Cristo
Poor Alexandre Dumas--his classic tale is once again the focus of a sumptuous but muddled Hollywood adaptation, this time by Waterworld director Kevin Reynolds. In this rendition of the oft-filmed story, a vague British accent--such as that employed by breathtakingly fetching American actor James Caviezel as Edmund Dantes, the prison escapee who assumes the titular title, and Aussie thespian Guy Pearce (Memento), as Dantes' back-stabbing cohort Fernand Mondego--indicates that a character is French, and the illiterate Dantes is able to find hope in a graffito on his cell wall (written in English, natch). Wrongly imprisoned for treason, Dantes makes the acquaintance of fellow prisoner Faria (Richard Harris, lending this flick some much-needed class); the codger facilitates his young friend's freedom and provides him with a treasure in exchange for Dantes' promise to use both constructively, not vengefully. Dantes swears to do so--just as soon as he shreds his enemies to ribbons. (Spiritually enlightened, he isn't.) Combining the po-faced gravitas of, say, Les Misérables with the cheesy, swashbuckling adventure of, say, Disney World's Pirates of the Caribbean ride, Monte Cristo is incoherent but irresistibly schlocky and, somehow, entertaining.