Thursday, June 29, 2006

Da Vinci Code

I went to see the Da Vinci Code last night. It lived down to its reviews. I mean, it wasn't the worst movie I ever saw, not even close. It was just that the dialogue was awful, as it was in the book, and I don't think even Tom Hanks could pull it off. At times it seemed that he wasn't even trying. And the directing was equally bad. Overdramatic with lots of close-ups of Tom Hanks who was supposed to be looking either scared (claustrophobic) or in deep thought. These two were distinguished by sweat on Hanks' brow for the fear part and squinting and brow furrowing for the thinking. It was like Ron Howard just spent his day saying (to Hanks) "okay, now squint here, you know, like you're thinking hard trying to figure something out. Oh, and furrow your brow." and "Tom, Tom, that was great old buddy but can we just do it one more time with more squinting. I think we need more squinting". The whole thing seemed very amateurish, from the writing to the directing to the acting. This is very surprising considering the track records of Ron Howard and Tom Hanks.

Dan Brown's writing was never good (I've read two of his books in spite of that) but he doesn't have to write well because the storylines are great. He writes mysteries of religious history and for a Religious Studies major who is fascinated by religious history, like me, they are a great yarn. Obviously millions of others thought the same about the Da Vinci Code book. But for the movie, it is just too much information to pack into a movie and much of the 2.5 hours in the theatre felt like one long RS lecture, albeit one packed with generalizations and iffy theories. As much as I enjoyed that, hey I've paid a lot more for RS lectures at MUN, it wasn't enough to stop me rolling my eyes several times at some of the lines that thunked. The ending was anticlimactic as the whole movie dragged out with lots of historical theories, codes, and practically a PowerPoint presentation on the Last Supper and Mary Magdalene, then the payoff takes about ten minutes and we're left wondering why we went through all this. It was like you watched a chef cook a big, elaborate meal for a couple of hours then he said, "here, have a cracker".

BTW, if you liked the book, check out Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln. They are the guys who sued Dan Brown for stealing their ideas. I read the book many years ago and as soon as I started to read the Da Vinci Code, I thought that it all seemed too much like their book (the courts, however, disagreed and rejected the plagiarism claims). If you'd like to read about the theories without all the melodrama, then pick this one up.


At 10:02 AM, Blogger John Mutford said...

I couldn't agree more with your assessment of the books. As for the track record of Tom Hanks and Ron Howard- Tom Hanks giving a poor performance surprising, but if you check back at Ron Howard reviews they've often been luke warm, despite a couple of Oscar nods thrown in.

At 10:42 AM, Blogger Rj said...

Ontop of all of that, I was surprised at the minimal reference to art in the movie. The book was full of art!

At 3:36 PM, Blogger Tina Chaulk said...

All the better to sell "the illustrated version of the Da Vinci Code". Maybe there will be an illustrated version of the movie and they can iclude all the art. See? See? That's what they were thinking leaving all that art out.


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