Sunday, May 21, 2006

how the "da vinci code" movie is just as good as the book

then again, i thought the book sucked.

okay, let me start here for my review: "the da vinci code" is the best worst book ever written. the ideas inside completely blew my mind (even though dan brown stole them from "holy blood, holy grail"). in fact, never have i read a book that just completely shook up everything about me the way that book did.

it was just written on a fourth-grade level, with preposterous plot turns and terribly clunky dialogue. i couldn't get past that. it's embarrassing. but then again, considering the country's voting habits, i guess it's just about right for everyone.

so i went in, hoping to enjoy it.

here's how i came out.

starring tom hanks, audrey tautou and ian mckellan
directed by ron howard
viewed at the grand lake theater in lake merritt, oakland, california

well, this movie brings forth a bunch of questions not brought up in the book. i'll go through them one-by-one:

1. is ron howard overrated? yes. big-time. in fact, when you go to his page, you begin to realize that he's got far more misses than hits, and his real amazing film, "a beautiful mind", is looking more and more caused by the brilliance of russell crowe than anything else. to wit: howard and crowe were also in "cinderella man", which was okay - the storyline was very hokey. but the movie wasn't hokey, and much - if not all - credit should be given to crowe. any other actor would have played jim braddock as a softie. but crowe was so uncompromisingly convincing, that he drew our empathy while not betraying ethics for compassion. and his amazing performance hid the vanilla supbar directing. for example, howard made the disasterous decision to move the camera inside the ring, giving no sense of perspective to the action. why would he do that? you don't know who's hitting who. i guess what i'm saying is that howard had his biggest success when tied to the finest actor of our generation. in this movie, howard again moves the camera continuously throughout the first two hours. the only reason i'm bringing this up is because the film is awful during that time. why would you move the camera? well, you move the camera to give some energy to a scene, or to let the lens do the storytelling. but, in this film, the idea should carry the story, and the lens should be locked down so that you're only concentrating on one thing: the words. but howard didn't do that. it's too much. way too much. it's as if the directing style he chose for this film was simply "i have a big budget. let's spend it all on fancy moves" instead of having an idea or a motif and sticking to it. speaking of that, if he stuck to what he does best - "parenthood", "cocoon", "splash" - i think everyone will be happy. but he's way over his head right now.

2. how bad was the book to begin with? very bad. the advantage that a book has over a film is that a book is gradual. it plays out over an extended period of time. a movie is only two hours long. and when you watch this film, you realize that dan brown's storyline (not the idea) is quite possibly among the most amatuerishly conceived ever. i'm serious. the biggest question, really, isn't just if dan brown stole his source material from "holy blood, holy grail". it's also if he stole the storyline from a soap opera or professional wrestling.

3. what about tom hanks? he also wasn't very good - and this is coming from someone who is a big tom hanks fan. he just didn't have any chemistry with amelie. and again, the camera was never really set on him to allow hanks to do what he does best - act. it was too busy. the star of the film, however, was ian mckellan. then again, when is he isn't?

4. who else can you blame? i'm not blaming anyone. when you get down to it, the book isn't very good. and you just can't turn crap into gourmet.

5. how could it have been better? first off, hire a director who knows how to handle this type of movie. and, although i'm not a big fan of his writing style, i honestly think m. night shymalan would have done a great job with this. he's spooky, and he's got a unique visual style. tom hanks would've been fine, as long as he's allowed to silently emote to the camera. then again, maybe he's not the right guy. i mean, you never get the sense that tom hanks is in trouble. there's a quality that he has that you pull for him, always, no matter what. i know he dies in "saving private ryan", but that was a war movie, and remember how touched you felt when he did pass? i guess what i'm saying is that you don't buy that robert langdon is in jeopardy because tom hanks would never die in a movie like this. maybe keifer sutherland would have pulled it off better.

then again, jack bauer is jesus christ.

on the bright side, i didn't find the movie to be boring at all.

here's what i did love about the movie: where i saw it. the grand lake theater was built in 1926, and it's about as classicly gorgeous now is it was then. in my five years out here, i can't believe i'd never been. what a shame.

anyways, here's some photos i shot of the outsides, insides and viewing rooms:

1 comment:

Jaime Schwarz said...

I saw Wedding Crashers there. Different kind of movie, but I just love that they have curtains. Really classes up the joint.