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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

When I first read this book I loved the tension and conspiracy in it. Then I did some of my own research into the author and the plot etc. A week ago I also wasted three hours of my time at the cinema in the hope of proving the critics wrong and discovering that it was a great film. How wrong I was. I'm a great believer in the saying from Thumper's mother in Bambi, "If you ain't got nothing nice to say, don't say nothing at all." Therefore I will leave the damning review of this film to my DH:

"I was left feeling underwhelmed by Dan Brown’s bestselling novel, but nevertheless went to see the film version with high hopes. Sadly, I was left watching a totally lacklustre movie that forgets some of the fundamental rules of film-making; for instance, making the storyline interesting, pacy and exciting, all golden elements that director Ron Howard totally bypasses. Look back over this guy’s filmography, I realise that, out of all his films, I’ve only ever enjoyed two, which were Ransom and Willow. Both had a zest and sparkle which is sadly lacking in this bloated, over long blockbuster.

The list of faults which this film possesses is an endless one… the music is derivative, the script cheesy and unappealing (Hanks delivering the line “you are the last living descendent of Jesus Christ” is hands-down one of the worst lines in movie history). Howard is so keen to avoid upsetting anyone that all of the controversy surrounding certain passages in the novel disappears, and we’re left with a boring run-through instead. Also, this guy has no idea of pace. After the movie climaxes at around the 1 hour 45 minute mark, we’ve got yet another FIFTY minutes of boring exposition to sit through. It really tests the patience. Even Howard himself seems to get bored with his film at times – witness the shots of Hanks and Tautou walking through London (complete with BRIGHT RED double decker buses, post boxes and telephone boxes, seemingly in EVERY street in our capital – more spoon-fed UK fantasy for the US audience). Instead of having his protagonists just walking with a normal tracking shot, Howard decides to use special effects to blur the people in the crowd around them, turning them into what appear to be shapeshifting spirits. What the hell is the reason for doing this? In a film that strives for realism, this is a total misstep that left me scratching my head. Ditto Hanks’ “vision” in the chapel that takes place straight afterwards.

The film keeps all the clich├ęd action scenes from the book intact, except they’re even less interesting up on screen – a car chase is ruined by dodgy shaky-hand camerawork, and a tense stand-off resorts to the contrivance of a flying dove to allow our heroes to escape for the umpteenth time. Plus that annoying aeroplane escape is intact (complete with comedy-accented British policemen) and feels as much a cheat as ever.

The film’s stultifying climax is one of the worst I’ve had to sit through – even worse than the sentimental pap that marred the otherwise perfect Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. The ‘joke’ where Tautou dips her toe into a pond is cheesy beyond belief and, possibly realising that there is zero chemistry between his two stars, Howard eliminates the romance between Langdon and Neveu that we found in the novel. Speaking of the stars, Hanks (complete with greasy, false-looking hair) gives his worst performance to date; unless it was his intention to make the college professor seem entirely boring. Tautou, who was so good – even perfect – in Amelie, seems stilted and unsure of herself. The only actor I really liked was Paul Bettany as Silas; his self-flagellation sequences are among the most powerful (and wince-inducing, come to that) in the film, and he evokes the only sympathy you’ll find here. Two British old hands, Ian McKellen and Alfred Molina, deal with their roles in different ways: Molina is emotionless, whilst the impish McKellen comes across as a prank-playing granddad, sniggering at the fun of it all, and somehow looking wrong when he dons his flat cap. It’s left to Euro-actors Jean Reno and Judgen Prochnow to give the most interesting performances; although Reno is left on the sidelines, his beating of a flight controller at the airport is another powerful moment, whilst Prochnow’s shifty banker is present in the only interesting bit of action.

Rating: 2/5"



Hmm... say no more. (Except save both your time and money)

4 comments:

Sharon J said...

Does you hubby write critiques for a living? He's awfully good at it.

Stacy Dawn said...

I wanted to see it but with all the reviews not being too hot, I'll rent the video when it comes out.

Magnolia said...

Glad I didn't waste my money to see it. I sent Charlotte's book to her : - ) I sent you an e-mail telling you about it : - )

hugs,
Sonya

Sue aka MsCreativity said...

Sharon, you've made DH's day! He would love to earn money from reviewing. He used to have a website where he'd written over 1,500 reviews (cult/genre films). He currently reviews books for Reader's Review magazine, but hopes to work for a paying market soon.

Stacy, I wish I'd had your patience and waited. This was one film where the reviewers were right!

(((Sonya))) Thanks for taking the time and leaving a comment. An email will be winging its way to you shortly...