Adam C. Zern shares some thoughts on the film adaptation of Alexander Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo:
"Before I knew much of anything regarding Alexandar Dumas' masterpiece The Count of Monte of Cristo I saw the film adaptation directed by Kevin Reynolds and adapted by Jay Wolpert. I found it to be a great adventure film—emotional, engaging, and thoroughly entertaining. Then I read the book and discovered that the film was an adequate but not a brilliant adaptation of a truly marvelous book.
The book surpasses its film adaptation in every way imaginable. It's more exciting, more thrilling, more filled with intrigue, character, passion, and everything else that makes a great adventure, revenge, and redemption story. Edmond Dantes, once he becomes the Count we all know so well, is one of the most memorable characters I have ever come across—being compassionate and merciful as well as ruthless and implacable. As I turned the last page of Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo it instantly became one of my most beloved books. Simply put, there are very few other books I love as much as I do The Count of Monte Cristo.
So what of the movie? It's not a bad film, not by any measurement, even when it's compared to the book which inspired it. The film of necessity slims down characters and plot as well as 'hollywood-dizes' several relationships, most notably Mercedes and Edmond Dantes. Overall, these are wise decisions for a film adaptation, although I would have liked the relationship between Mercedes and Dantes to have mirrored the book more since I felt it was more emotionally charged and heartbreaking. Furthermore, the filmmakers should have taken more chances with some of the more complicated but interesting plot points and character relationships the book handles so well. Above all, what the film doesn't do is leave an impression the way the book does. I think often of the book and rarely about the film even though I own it and enjoy it quite a bit.
Taken together, The Count of Monte Cristo book and film are worth anyone's time, but the original work of Alexandar Dumas is truly unforgettable. In hindsight, it was probably a good thing I saw the film first and then read the book since I would have hoped for more and possibly would have been disappointed in the film. My advice to others would be to do the same. But if you only had a choice between the two, do yourself a favor and read the book. You'll never forget it."