A locus for eccentrics (hopefully)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

80%--2 3/4 *s

Like everyone else, I went to see the Da Vinci code this weekend. I knew when it was Sunday at 4:30 and the theatre was nearly full that there was something going. When the black dudes with the fubu shirts and the doo rags came in and sat down to watch it, I also knew something was going on. Why is this book the only book that everyone in the country will read?

As the only member of the American population to not read this book, I came into with a kind of childlike innocence that most moviegoers did not. And I definitely think it helped my enjoyment of the film. Basically, it was a pretty average film overall. The big problem was that it was an entire book, yes, you guessed it, crammed into a movie like a fat chick in a tube top. There was lots of explication and back story about history and I knew when they went into the various councils (quiz for a cookie: what happened at the council of Chalcedon?) the Christian church held that yes, this probably was one of those things you just had to read. Also, Tom Hanks, as Rachel pointed out, is still not scholarly and bookish despite growing out his hair. It's like if they gave him a mustache and told him to play the role of a bond supervillian. No go.

Nevertheless, the thriller/mystery/puzzle element of the story is the draw here--the problem was that everyone in the audience already knew what was going to happen. As someone who didn't, that held up, it was fun to watch them solve all the puzzles. And that right there is why people hated the movie--there's little doubt that it probably did a lesser of a job explaining the same material than the book, but if you haven't read the book it still is pretty interesting. So for someone who had read the book it probably sucked. Thus explaining why a relatively entertaining film is dying with 22% on rottentomatoes, worse than RV or Poseidon. It's a pretty entertaining (if a little long) film if you haven't read the book, and I don't think fair that people come into it comparing it to the book exactly. Or maybe it is fair? I don't know.

Anyway, I'm also of the opinion that books should only be turned into movies once their creators are dead and can therefore have no say whatsoever in how it is slashed into a movie. I'm sure there have been good movies with their authors at the helm, but...

4 Comments:

Blogger neill said...

As one of the teeming unwashed masses who have read it-- it's an entertaining yarn that you can bang out in a couple of hours. And that's great, because not everything you read has to be plodding and academic. What always seemed odd to me is that it might be the least-appropriate book-to-movie I could think of. The author's writing style is very deliberate ("It was a dark and stormy night...") such that it's hard to think about what the value-added of a movie could ever be.

Jurassic Park worked as a book-to-movie because seeing a dinosaur and reading about a dinosaur are very different things. But when the prose tells me "Silas entered the room. He had pale skin, and pink eyes, because he was an albino, and he looked really imposing," you've really already painted that picture for me pretty comprehensively.

11:11 AM

 
Blogger steve said...

I agree with you, which is what I'm saying--the reason people are upset about the movie is because it does exactly what the book does except it does it worse. Except I haven't read the book, so I thought the movie was reasonably entertaining but not that good.

I'm not sure that that means it deserves to be panned worse than the Robin Williams comedy RV.

12:49 PM

 
Blogger Guy Tarkington said...

But, you've got to admit that RV was a great book, and a so-so movie....

2:11 PM

 
Blogger Jefe said...

:)

6:56 AM

 

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