Saturday, May 20, 2006
If boredom is a sin, let lightning strike ‘The Da Vinci Code’
Godzilla – Monster-sized Movies that can’t be ignored
Author Dan Brown’s best-selling thriller ‘The Da Vinci Code’ is everywhere: television, billboards, newspapers and anti-Da Vinci Code documentaries. The vast number of art house cinemas playing director Ron Howard’s ‘The Da Vinci Code’ may persuade serious-minded moviegoers to accept the big-budget crime thriller as the rare Hollywood blockbuster with adult characters, themes and a plot more serious than the average comic book.
The fact that ‘The Da Vinci Code’ claims the best opener of any recent movie thriller only heightens expectations.
A Louvre curator is found murdered, left naked in the position of Da Vinci’s Vitruvian figure inside the sprawling Paris museum. Occult symbols are carved into his bare chest. Called to the scene is symbols expert Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) to help French police decipher the clues. On hand to assist is a pretty police cryptographer, Sophie Neveu, (Audrey “Amélie” Tautou) who has a secret connection to the crime.
Their attempts to solve the murder turns into a Holy Grail quest throughout France and England in search of the 900-year-old religious cult, the Priory of Sion, and its secrets about Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene. It turns out to be a laborious journey.
Tom Hanks sports long slick hair in a failed attempt to play the dashing leading man. He’s out of sorts in ‘Da Vinci’, worlds away from the type of casual comic Joe he plays effortlessly.
Audrey “Amélie” Tautou is plenty pretty but surprisingly dull as Langdon’s girl Friday. Put together, they claim the sexual spark of a rock.
As British Sir Leigh Teabing, a Grail expert who joins the adventure, Ian McKellen brings the much-needed bluster and presence that Hanks lacks. McKellen’s ability puff out his chest and match up against the spectacular backdrops points out the differences between an actor who’s classically trained and someone who comes out of TV sitcoms, someone like Hanks.
Paul Bettany flashes a pasty white ass, a barbed “cilice” belt on this thigh and a cat o’ nine tails for whipping but little menace as Silas, the mad Albino monk on their trail.
Working with ‘A Beautiful Mind’ screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, Howard unloads plenty of flashbacks to the Crusades and Constantine without much explanation. Each crime-solving step unfolds with impressive detail but no tension. ‘The Da Vinci Code’ is plush, even by Hollywood standards. What’s missing are the Hitchcock touches, a dash of sex appeal, nail-biting excitement and boiling suspense worthy of the spectacular backdrops.
As is often the case with cultural phenomenon, the stories surrounding the movie are more interesting. The recent copyright infringement suit against Dan Brown and Random House has been resolved. Religious protesters rally against the film and its fictional blasphemy. Meanwhile, Tom Hanks and the rest of the ‘Da Vinci Code’ cast travel to the Cannes Film Festival on a specially painted Eurostar train.
Imagine the on-board chatter. Anything must be better than the dull movie.