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Monday, May 22, 2006

"Da Vinci Disappointment"

I'm a Dan Brown fan. Do I think he's the end all be all? No. He's a decent writer with a unique style and vision. His books make you think and become an active participant in the reading experience. Do I buy into all of his conspiracy theories? Not really. That's why its called "factional fiction." I don't think The Historian is true either; just an interesting interpretation of history.

So, Saturday I went to see The Da Vinci Code starring Tom Hanks; arguably one of the most controversial films release since The Passion of the Christ for religious folks at least. Am I a religious person? I guess I'm more spiritual and really don't take offence to Brown's work. As I remind myself and others, "Rememer its 'factional fiction'." In the past few weeks, I've encountered more than my share of Da Vinci haters. My questions to them? #1 Have you read it? #2 Why are you against it? The common answers have been usually "no" and "because they say..." I've said that before they draw too many conclusions it might be a good idea to actually read the book. Secondly, who is "they"? A question I always ask my students in their writing. You've got to be specific and to make and substantiate your own opinions.

So, back to the film review...
For me it was just okay (geez I sound like Randy Jackson from American Idol now!). I was disappointed to say the least but I expected this reaction. From experience, I rarely think films based on novels live up to my standards. Great adaptations aren't the easiest things to do well. There are exceptions but alas....

Why was I disappointed?
  1. Tom Hanks just isn't Robert Langdon. Sorry, its just the way it is. Hanks is an incredible actor and does a decent job--but he just doesn't cut it. Langdon is sacastic, athletic, and handsome. Brown continually describes him as a Harrison Ford type and I would have cast David Duchovny given the opportunity. For me Hanks lost some of the character's personality not to mention his lack of chemistry with Audrey Tatou (Sophie Neveu).
  2. Ron Howard dumbed down some of the plot. What I like about Brown is his ability to add an intricate historical base for his stories without getting boring. Yes, I know film makers work on budget and time constraints but The Da Vinci Code appears too much like a nice and neatly wrapped little package. Much of the detail that makes the novel so great is omitted or at least summarized too quickly and the clues that take 50-100 pages to solve are figured out in a matter of minutes.
What I did like:
  1. Ian McKellen - the man is a genius and can act circles around most in his line of work. I find it intriguing that he has two of the season's biggest films opening within a week of each other. I'm counting down the hours until X-Men: The Last Stand hits theaters on Friday.
  2. The cinematography was phenomenal and Howard does a splendid job with sets and the overall visual 'look' of the film.

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