V for DaVinci Code

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou
It has been a strangely dry year thus far for movies, to the point that there have been several times when I wanted to go see a movie and there was nothing I was interested in seeing in even the remotest way. May, however, has been an exception, with an interesting new movie opening every weekend. Last weekend, it was MI3 which, despite Tom Cruise, is a must see for any fan of action movies. Sadly, unlike the first MI movie, it does not transcend the genre nor bring anything new to it, but as action movies go, it is pretty decent, fun, and about what you'd expect. Certainly it is a far sight better than the second movie in the series, however, and in any case, if you're just looking for a little action, it's worth a view. But I'm not here to talk about how I was disliking Tom Cruise way before it was fashionable, nor even about MI3. Mostly because I don't have much else to say about it. I'm here to talk about a movie that is being unfairly panned by many critics and another that you have already missed seeing the first time around: The DaVinci Code and V for Vendetta.

The DaVinci Code
Ron Howard on the set
There's no rock on earth big enough that anyone could claim to not, at the least, have heard of The DaVinci Code. Dan Brown's blockbuster book is the world's best selling book after the bible, and I daresay that more people have probably read it from end to end; this both serves and hinders the movie. You see, when a movie has as much buzz around it at the time of release, critics - already leaning toward the negative - tend to skew their reviews in the negative, perhaps reviewing the movie based on expectations rather than reality. On the other hand, having many people who have read the book means, in all likelihood, that they will not only go to see it, but have an understanding of what is going on in the first place. The movie is a little fast paced in explanation, I feel, for someone who has not read it (though perhaps those who have will argue the opposite), and I got the feeling that someone approaching the movie without the background would not necessarily appreciate the subtleties that made the book so endearing. In this regard, I tend to agree with Ron Howard, who in the face of criticism from Cannes, said, "This sounds a little 'hucksterish', but people really respond to the movie better the second time than they do the first time."

Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou
I'm not implying that you shouldn't see the movie without having read the book - au contraire, mes amis - just that, as always, the book does a better job explaining than the movie. This is not startling Hollywood news, in fact it's about the oldest and most well-accepted fact in the industry. And so it does not imply the movie is not good or true to the book. It not only sticks quite close to the book (many critics, of course, argue too close), but manages to take a few poetic touches as well. That Saunier's yard is, for example, filled with roses was a very small and admittedly unimportant touch, but something I appreciated. And one of the few somethings I can share without spoiling anything.

Sir Ian McKellan as Sir Leigh Teabing
In short, the movie itself is fairly well done; it has a certain art to it. The mystery is engrossing, but I worry that it lacks the impact of the book. Comparisons aside, however, I think that someone going and paying attention will quite appreciate the mystery and thrills involved. This is not a movie where you want to go and be thinking about all the stuff you have to get done next week. I'm not implying it's brainy, just that - and perhaps this is my only real complaint when you boil it down - the movie does not do a good enough job of really pulling you in and it may take a little effort on the part of the audience. Otherwise, the direction is artfully done (thank you, Ron Howard), the acting is excellent (particularly Sir Ian McKellan, but I have yet to see him not deserving of his honorific), and I have a soft spot for Audrey Tautou (plus a fair amount of respect for Tom Hanks), so there you have it. Incidentally, if you have not seen Amelie, I highly recommend it when you're in the mood for something different. Audrey Tautou at her finest and in quite a different role. So, in Roman numerals, perhaps there is no V for The DaVinci Code, but I'd not hesititate to give it a III.V. In any case, it is perhaps fitting that "V" is supposedly the symbol for the sacred female... which is how I'm going to finally justify the title of this blog.

V for Vendetta is G for Good
V for Vendetta
First of all, nobody I have talked to has seen this movie. This disturbing fact is shocking to me for many reasons, here are a few:

1) The trailer = awesomeness. If you remember my post from some time ago, this passes all the trailer tests. That means you should see it. That's all. Go watch the trailer yourself here.

2) Natalie Portman. Enough said.

3) Wachowski Brothers. You may know them as the creators of The Matrix. Not good at making sequels, but I think they're due another chance on a new movie given how incredible the original Matrix was.

4) My personal recommendation. The movie may upset you, it may make you feel uneasy, but isn't that better than going to a movie and being bored after? I would go see it again, so you should see it once at least.

5) The Title. It takes guts to name your movie with a title that harkens back to the days of Dial M for Murder and Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Though I guess we had Attack of the Clones recently, so maybe we're seeing a resurgence of poor titling.

Matthew McConaughey stars with Horseface in An Utter Abomination
6) It is a rose among the thistle. Really. OK, possibly excluding the indie circuit, about which I am woefully uninformed, but in the list of contemporaries, we have The Sentinel (I hate movies starting with 'the' as though that makes it sound important). It stars Micheal Douglas as a secret agent. It's rumoured he personally financed the movie in order to keep Catherine Zeta Jones with him. Silent Hill, yet another 'thriller' about a parent who must fight through the undead and the spirit worzzzzzzzzzz. I'm thrilled to not see it, thank you. And Thank You For Smoking, which might be okay except for Katie Holmes who basically I see/hear as Tom Cruise now. Really. Put Tom Cruise in her place on Dawson's Creek, that's what I see. Kind of makes things weird. Scary Movie 4 (need I say more), The Benchwarmers (another Adam Sandler/Rob Schneider movie long past the time where it might be funny), Take The Lead, where we discover that what the ghetto needs is ballroom dancing and what ballroom dancing needs is large-bottomed women and backwards caps.

Now I don't mean to say you should see this movie because the rest are not so great. Rather, that I am shocked that so few have seen this movie given the utter lack of competition. And the fact that it is in second run means that you definitely should catch it on the cheap. Oh, and I missed Failure to Launch, which, really... a woman so sadistic that she plays with mens' feelings, gets them to fall for her, or at least get attached enough to move out, and then dumps them? The movie should've taken place 32 years prior, starred Sarah Jessica Parker's parents, and been called Failure to Abort.

Anyway, I have a life to lead (believe it or not) and you have a few movies to see, so I shant keep you. As always, thanks for listening, let me know what you think of either movie or even if I'm wrong about some of my judgements on my "Must Miss List".



Anonymous said...

I've been staying away from the reviews of TDC thus far, and am going to see it tonight.

I surely hope the critics are wrong and what I've been hearing about the movie is far from the truth. I just don't see how Tom Hanks directed by Ron Howard with Dan Brown's story can be bad. Oh well.

I haven't read your review yet, but will come back and report after I've seen it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dean!

How are you?? This is so bizarre, I somehow found your website while I was supposed to be writing a paper......whoops!I spent waaaay too long looking at your pics of your travels. And I think that I saw John Vindeg in there too! So yeah, I actually went to high school with you, not sure if you remember me, Janessa Campbell. I just got back to Saskatoon from being abroad for a few years, if you ever wanna chat about travelling, email me. janessasoup@yahoo.ca.

Take care and hope to hear from you soon!

Anonymous said...

Hello Dean, I told you I read your posts. I was happy to see you had written about the Da Vinci Code. I saw it last week, and for me it seemed slow (b/c I knew what was going on) but for Rene who had never read the book she thought it was intense and really enjoyed it. For some reason I thought maybe the movie would break the tradition and make sure all the details were there, but of course, this is very hard to do. Like you I had heard nothing but poor reviews for this movie but was entertained.
As for V for Vendetta!!!! I thought it was a great movie - and I was confused, and angry at the end - which I suppose is the entire reason to go see a movie - to experience emotions. Portman's come a long way from The Professional ( a very important movie - lol). Have you seen Its All Gone by Peter Tong?

Dean said...

Still waiting on that report, Stephen... :P

Hey Janessa, yeah I remember you, of course. Will drop you a line soon.

Elaine, I'm flattered and flabbergasted...

Yeah, it's too bad, I think the movie could've been better, but that doesn't mean it is awful. There are elements to be enjoyed.

Speaking of which, Natalie Portman, yes, fantastic job in V. And thank God someone else out there has actually seen this movie. I haven't seen The Professional, but will rent it immediately and base my entire opinion of you on how much I like it. :)

I've also not seen - nor even heard of - It's All Gone. But I have the trailer queing up now.

Back to V for Vendetta, yeah, it is a confusing ending... but I suppose that is because the ends don't necessarily justify the means and it seemed rather pointless to destroy something when the real symbol to society is beheading the tyrannical government.

And finally, back to Natalie's growth as an actress, yes, she has definitely matured a lot. I don't know if you followed the link I have to her in the post, but do. It is highly entertaining. And classy.

Thanks for reading/writing!

Dean said...

That DOES look good, thanks Elaine!

Anonymous said...

It's All Gone Pete Tong is another film by Michael Dowse and friends. They're Canadians who did the film Fubar a few years back... I recommend that movie as well.