Xpress, the Coolest Section of the St. Petersburg Times, is the home for features, news and views of interest to young readers. Most of the work in Xpress, which appears on Mondays in Floridian, is produced by the Times' X-Team. The team of journalists ages 9-17 from around the Tampa Bay area is selected every year at the end of the school year to serve during the following school term. The current team of 12 was chosen out of 150 applicants. Watch for X-Team application forms in Xpress during the month of May.

Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

St. Petersburg Times Online

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Count on lots of thrills in 'Monte Cristo'

© St. Petersburg Times
published January 28, 2002

Movie: The Count of Monte Cristo

Rating: PG-13

Summary: This movie is based on the novel of the same name written by Alexander Dumas. Edmond Dantes (Jim Caviezel) is a hard-working sailor living in Marseilles in the early 1800s. After he returns from a trip at sea, where he had a chance encounter with Napoleon Bonaparte, he is falsely accused of treason. He is turned in by his very jealous best friend and exiled to an island prison for life. Weakened by years of imprisonment, he meets a priest (also a prisoner) who has been digging toward the outer walls -- and he hopes, freedom -- for 11 years, but ends up in Dantes' cell. Dantes joins forces with the priest and offers to help him dig in exchange for lessons in reading, writing and weaponry. When circumstances allow, Dantes escapes. He is eventually able to use a map given to him by the priest and locates the massive treasures of Monte Cristo. Dantes assumes the name Count of Monte Cristo and proceeds to seek vengeance on all the wrongdoers who ruined his life.

My view: This film rocked! Everything in this tremendously intricate plot fit together perfectly -- like the pieces of a puzzle. The acting was brilliant. Jim Caviezel played the part of this wronged man with flair. The comic relief that was cleverly interjected into the plot by several of the supporting actors gave this movie an edge as sharp as the swords they fought their battles with. What a movie!

Favorite part: The sweet revenge that intertwines with the storyline is very satisfying. Dantes picks off enemies one by one in such unusual and cunning ways that it is lots of fun to watch. Every little twist drew wildly empathetic reactions from the audience to an extent I've never seen before.

Least favorite part: I wish this movie went on and on even longer than its two-hour length; it was so great I didn't want it to end.

Recommendations: It was an excellent film that I think will be thoroughly enjoyed by kids middle school age and up and all adults who don't find the somewhat graphic sword fighting scenes disturbing.

Grade: A+

- Billy Norris, 14, is in the eighth grade at Seminole Middle School, and is a former member of the X-Team.

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