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Sunday, May 21, 2006

So Lame the Con of Dan

Heather Marie and I went to see The Da Vinci Code today. I've already recorded my thoughts on the book, so I'll confine myself to the movie for now.

Let me preface my remarks by saying that I'm unbothered by the concepts in both the book and the movie. They're neither new nor accurate in most respects. Count me amongst those whose faith is not shaken by fictional books or movies, even those with delusions of veracity.

First and foremost, the movie is a pretty accurate recreation of the book, complete with all the original material's flaws. That means that right in the middle of the movie the action is broken up by a solid 20-30 minutes of exposition. That's right: there's essentially a 30 minute History Channel documentary embedded in it. Fortunately, the flashback and memory effects the movie uses are cool enough to hold your attention through most of the exposition.

Overall, it was consistent with what I expected. I've always thought the book was about on par with a bad novelization of a decent movie, and the movie bore that out. Unlike most book-to-movie adaptations, I'd say the movie was far better than the book. That's not to say it was a great (or even particularly good) movie, just that it was better than the book -- not a terribly difficult accomplishment, in my opinion.

It presents an interesting contrast to two other recent book-movies, Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia. I don't think many people would seriously claim that either adaptation was better than the original books, but in both cases the movies were made with such obvious love and respect for the originals that their spirits shown through.

In the case of Da Vinci (the book), though, not only is there very little spirit available to begin with, but it will never inspire the love and devotion that LotR and Narnia do. So even though it is a more accurate adaptation than the others, and even though it improves upon the experience of its source, it still falls far short of the quality of LotR and Narnia.

In a strange twist on the concept of "garbage in, garbage out," the books that seem to suffer the least from the transition to film are often those that are little more than the pop fiction of their day to begin with. Gone With The Wind, The Godfather, Jaws -- all great movies that came from (let's be honest here) popular books that weren't exactly great literature. Although The Da Vinci Code joins these and other movies in disproving the notion that a movie adaptation can only be as good as its source book, it still demonstrates that you can only do so much with a weak foundation.

In the final analysis, I'd say that it's a decent, fun summer mystery/thriller/action movie, and it was worth the cost of admission...for a matinee, least. I'm not sure Ron Howard was the best director to make it (I would've liked to have seen M. Night Shyamalan's take on it), and I'm not sure Tom Hanks was the best choice to start in it (Harrison Ford? John Cusack? Ed Norton? Johnny Depp? I'm not sure), but it was passable. I'd give it a C+. It would've made a B- without the gratuitousness of the self-torture scene.

Personally, since the book takes place almost in real-time over about a 24-hour period, I think it might've worked better as a 24-style TV movie, but since nearly everyone would've known everything about it to begin with, then that might have only served to drag out the details.


Blogger luis said...

hey you should post this review on :) your blog url is displayed at the bottom of each review you submit so it might even send a little traffic your way. we have a page up for Da Vinci Code right here:

5/24/2006 2:02 AM  

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