The Da Vinci Code
Viewed: 11:15pm 05/19/06
Starring: Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Ian McKellen, Jean Reno, Paul Bettany, Alfred Molina
Directed by: Ron Howard
Dream Works Official Site of the movie
Did you see The Da Vinci Code yet, or would you rather have a chance at going to heaven? Aw, I’m just messing with you. You didn’t have a chance at getting in anyway. I mean - there is no heaven. Gotcha!
Since the release of The Da Vinci Code, a film based on Dan Brown’s wildly successful novel, last week there have been two huge stories circling it. First, that it sucks, and second, that Jesus thinks it sucks. Or at least that many divisions of Christianity don’t agree with what’s said in the film. The fictional film. And honestly, that makes a lot more sense because I think Jesus would have better taste in movies.
Critics ripped the Code to shreds after its premiere in Cannes last week only 3 days before its worldwide bow. Something few people expected from a movie of such pedigree. The source material is a brilliantly crafted thriller that introduces the reader to new levels of power secrecy in organized religion. A story like that will get you people like director Ron Howard who sometimes plays it a little safe, but in the past 10 years has gotten in this zone where he only makes good movies. The cast led by Tom "America’s favorite person" Hanks couldn’t be stronger. So this movie mistepping is not something critics, fans, or even Jesus saw coming.
It does indeed misstep though. Not too far off course but time issues and some clumsy handling of the finale left me feeling unsatisfied and bored. It’s not that I especially wanted to love it, but I was actually surprised when I didn’t.
This is the type of movie that should turn you upside down and have you coming out of the theatre discussing the gravity of the situation presented. Unfortunately because 80 million people read the book, Dateline did 17 specials on it, and the Discovery Channel won’t run a program unless Da Vinci is in the title, we all know the secret of the book. Because of that the introspective conversations and religious discussion were all done 6 months ago and the movie serves as little except a reminder that we proved to our grandmother a long time ago that Jesus didn’t hang out with hookers.
I’m guilty. I read the book, and I know looking back that moments in the movie would have been more entertaining had I not. I would have been able to compare with Yeo who also read the book, and discuss the differences between the two. Damn! I wish I’d never learned to read at all!
Even had I not read the book I feel like some of the ending would have still played unevenly. It’s endless for one thing. I think that ever since Return of the King won the Oscar for Best Picture, directors assume that they need a movie that ends for 20 minutes. Nope, we’re cool. Just roll the credits. A movie with a surprise twist should hit you quick and then disappear leaving you wanting more. I had a similar problem with Lucky Number Slevin but at least that had a hot Asian girl and no holy baggage.
(Personally, I don’t buy into the religious controversy surrounding this movie. I think most people can separate themselves from the material long enough to recognize it as an interesting work of fiction. And if you can’t, that’s cool. Just don’t rag on me because I do. A good thriller is a good thriller.)
Smaller moments of the ending deviate from the book. Normally I could care less but they dropped out some stuff that had a real impact on me and it soured the whole experience.
They also didn’t push the plot elements that I connected with the most. There are two specifically - why Sophie is estranged with her grandfather, and the identity of the mysterious mastermind known only as The Teacher.
You find out early that Sophie and her grandfather had a falling out. When she comes to join Langdon to inspect his dead body, the flashbacks begin. In the book (don’t worry, there are no spoilers in this review) they keep flashing back to the night when Sophie witnessed her grandfather do something that would change their relationship forever. They tease you with what it could be and what it really represents. In the movie they barely explain it and it adds nowhere near the same amount of depth of character as it does in the book. It’s just a throwaway footnote.
The mystery of the Teacher is a puzzling one because in the book you are presented with so many options. In the movie, they throw out hints early but almost drop the mystery completely until they actually do the big reveal. I’m telling you, while reading this book I could not stop until I found out who it was. While watching the movie, I nearly forgot there was a mastermind at all.
It may sound like nothing, but it was enough for me to be disappointed. Otherwise the movie’s not bad. The first two thirds are really faithful to the book and the pacing is brisk. They move quickly and when they rest there’s always something interesting to be said.
Even though it’s been comically reported, Tom Hanks doesn’t deliver any ridiculously hysterical lines that are not meant to be so. I was looking for them, believe me. His hair looks fine too. I mean, it’s not a great tragedy like when Travolta grew out his hair for Swordfish. The acting is great all around but I could have used more of Jean Reno’s tough French cop Captain Fache. Reno is the man and is a perfect fit for the character. Shamefully underused though.
I have this thing with French actors…where I don’t think there are a ton of good ones and the bad ones keep getting work. The bad guy in Bad Boys, the cop in The Transporter… awful. The obvious solution to finding good French actors is to stop watching crappy American action movies, but I’m addicted to the ass kicking. Thank the heavens for Reno though. He’s the go-to French badass, and I love him for it.
Amidst all the controversy Sony is pushing forward with plans for a sequel based on Brown’s earlier novel Angels and Demons. As screenwriter Akiva Goldsman warms up his computer to tackle this adaptation, I don’t really know how I feel about it. Goldsman was certainly able to capture the finer points of The Da Vinci Code (although I feel like the conclusion was fumbled by everyone involved) but do we really need this movie? Does a movie like the Da Vinci Code really require a sequel?
Well it’s not a sequel exactly. It tells an earlier tale of Hanks’ Dr. Langdon solving another murder and unraveling another plot, which is great but we just saw him do that. Do we want to turn Robert Langdon into the Jack Ryan of religious conspiracy? As long as they don’t rush the product this could be a lot of fun. I love a good story so I’m sure I’ll get excited about it, but this is just another example of box office success leading to things getting done. If it makes money then there has to be a sequel. Over 200 million world wide in an opening weekend certainly qualifies for that.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
The majority of the movie is great. Really quick, ridiculously clever and engaging. The ending may play really well to people that aren’t aware of the true mystery, but like I said, those people are few and far between. Still it’s a solid film worth checking out.
Not for me. If I ever want to relive the story I’ll reread the book. The characters were almost more vivid in my mind. Besides the book reads so fast it feels like you might finish up in less time than the two and a half hours it takes to watch the film anyway.
If you liked this movie check out: National Treasure
National Treasure is the 2004 film starring Nicholas Cage where he had to steal the Declaration of Independence to help hunt down the missing treasure of the Knights Templar. I love this movie! Not because it’s a smart thriller with danger around every corner and world shattering implications hanging in the balance, but because it’s a good old fashioned action packed treasure hunt. It’s not smart or clever - well in its way it is - but it’s not working with the same intellectual depth and conspiracy as the Da Vinci Code. But it’s fun. The Da Vinci Code was missing a little of that thrill.
If you felt like the Da Vinci Code was too long and boring, give National Treasure a shot. It moves too fast to be deep. In the long run that’s probably not as significant an accomplishment as a movie that makes you think about the world around you, but sometimes a mindless blockbuster is just what you need.
Trailer Hitch: Casino Royale teaser
I was talking to Ersal
on the drive down to Phil’s house to see MI:III
and he said he saw the teaser trailer for the new James Bond prequel, Casino Royale
. I was unhappy to hear that he was not impressed. Ersal and I have differing taste in movies (I don’t care what you say, man. Josie and the Pussycats
is the balls!) but I do respect his opinion.
I caught it for myself before The Da Vinci Code and actually thought it looked pretty cool. I’m still not sure I buy Daniel Craig as James Bond, but otherwise the movie looks like a blast. Hot girls, big explosions. That’s sort of what Bond is built on.
I do like Craig a lot but… couldn’t he have dyed his hair? It’s not as bad as Keanu staying brunette for last years Constantine, but… hold the phone! Daniel Craig would have been an awesome Constantine. (Whoa. One battle at a time.) Still, I’m not nearly as upset as the folks over at this site. That amuses me to no end.
Will it be a classic Bond film? Hard to say. I think people are ready for Bond to kick ass again. As much as I liked Brosnan in the role, the series had become a little stale. Some new blood and an earlier adventure couldn’t hurt. I’m looking forward to this one.
Today if you vote over at buzz you’ll get another image of what Billy guessed the big secret of The Da Vinci Code might be. God bless Slow Billy. He sure does try.
And if you’re willing to do so please vote over at Top Web Comics to see the most recent image in the continuing series of What if Joe Was Laurence Fishburne?. That’ll be ending soon but I’m kind of excited about next months project. Thanks to everyone that’s been coming out every weekday to vote. I appreciate all the support.
Non Movie Related Stuff.
A couple of quick things today. I did a guest strip for an amazing comic called Today the Comic. The concept is that the author, Chad Diez, takes a real news article and bases the strip off that. So you read the comic and scroll down to see the news story that inspired it. It’s such a fantastic way to merge comics and interesting information that most of us normally wouldn’t come across.
My strip is about the struggle between the church and the Da Vinci Code. I couldn’t resist doing a movie themed article. It’s just the news I like to read. Thanks to Chad for letting me play!
Also, the Kenmore has returned! One of my favorite web comics that went on hiatus for a few months is back and I couldn’t be happier. Great to have you back, Iago. You little freaky egg person.
Joe – The creator of the strip who has embraced giving crappy movies the chance they deserve. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.
First Appearance - The Introduction
Yeo – Yeo is Joe’s wife and often the voice of reason in the strip. Having her act rational allows the rest of the cast to embrace being in a comic strip which primarily involves randomly punching people, interacting with fictional characters and talking about boobs. Yeo is smart, beautiful and way too good for Joe. Don’t tip her off.
First Appearance - Fever Pitch
Irv – Joe’s movie-going sidekick who’s always down for watching Jason Statham crescent moon kick some thug through a plate glass window and getting some drinks before after and during a Vin Diesel movie. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.
First Appearance - Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior
Agent 337 George Jones – A government Agent that took over for Joe after he was bad-mouthing President Bush in the V for Vendetta strip. George ran the show for over a month bring a much needed sense of patriotism and justice to both the strips and reviews. He eventually got too attached to his work, empathizing with Joe’s plight to give crappy movies a fair shake. In a way he came to love crappy movies as well and was pushed out of the position. He spiraled out of control and ended up in prison. His adventures will be told in the limited series JLCM Presents: 337 Locked Up which is set to début Christmas of 09.
First Appearance - V for Vendetta
Other Notable Appearances: Stay Alive, Ice age 2, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Slither, Here Comes Guest week, Let’s Go To Prison
Leonidas – The former king of Sparta who has traveled into the future and is having trouble coping with the modern times. Yelling loudly and kicking people into giant holes doesn’t really work the same way it did in the olden days. As time as gone by he’s adjusted but it’s a safe bet that he’s always one bad message away from throwing a spear through someone.
First Appearance - 300
Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Strip# 300, The Golden Compass, Rambo, Untraceable, The Ladies of Max Paybe
Palpatine – Former Senator, Emperor of the Galactic Empire, Sith Lord... He shows up in the Joe Loves Crappy movies galaxy on occasion to let people know that they’re being stupid. No one’s really sure how he shows up in this universe but chances are it breaks all kinds of copywrite laws.
First Appearance - Episode III: The Dark Side
Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Night Watch, Saw 3, Are We Done Yet
Slow Billy – Billy is a sweet kid but he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. If you’re watching him for the day be prepared to explain to him the plot of the movie or how popcorn works or, not so much where babies come from, but what babies are. He’s a complete moron.
First Appearance - Four Brothers
Other Notable Appearances: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Da Vinci Code, Vantage Point, Journey to the Center of the Earth
Kyle the Movie Snob – Be careful what fun facts about movies you tell your friends at a friendly gathering or in line for the latest blockbuster, because if you’re even slightly wrong, Kyle will be more than happy to let you know. He usually gets what’s coming to him though. Poor guy has cracked three ribs since joining the JLCM cast.
First Appearance - Ultraviolet
Other Notable Appearances: 16 Blocks, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Transformers, Journey to the Center of the Earth
Jean-Luc Picard – Another lawsuit waiting to happen is Jean Luc Picard who, towards the end of the strip’s first year, became the go-to background character. If there was ever a seat to fill or a random person to place wandering around in the background, nine times out of ten it was Picard. While Picard has crossed paths with Irv he and Joe have never met. Perhaps they will some day but for now just can an eye on the background.
First Appearance - The Producers
Other Notable Appearances: I’m not telling you, that’s no fun. It’ like Where’s Waldo – go find him!
Ice Cream Sandwich – Delicious and… deadly? Usually when you see someone eating an Ice Cream sandwich, someone else is experiencing a substantial amount of pain. Still, how nice is an ice cream sandwich on a hot summer day?
First Appearance - Saw IV
Other Notable Appearances: Bee Movie, Run Fatboy Run, Saw V