SPidge Tales

Monday, May 22, 2006

My Da Vinci Code movie review

Whenever sportscasters have used up enough cheesy superlatives to describe a championship that teams are chasing or a record a player is chasing, they break out the ‘Holy Grail’ of clichés. Yes, you guessed it. If they get tired of calling the Super Bowl the pinnacle of football, or Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak the record of baseball records, it is time to start calling things the Holy Grail. “The Academy Award is the ‘Holy Grail’ of movie awards.” “The Triple Crown is the Holy Grail of horse racing.” “Hilary Duff has replaced the Olsen Twins as the Holy Grail of ‘feel-guilty-but-not-too-guilty’ jailbait.”

The Holy Grail is the chalice that Christ used during the Last Supper. Legends grew surrounding the various journeys this cup has taken. Like relics of the True Cross, treasure hunters and spiritual seekers alike have searched for its remains. Yet, unlike other relics associated with Jesus, the Holy Grail has become for some reason the relic of relics. Arthurian legends were written describing searches for the Grail by brave knights. The Grail came to be seen as THE object that was lost to history and is worth being found more than the others, such as the Ark of the Covenant or the body of Jimmy Hoffa.[1] So, whenever someone wants to say that something is the greatest of its kind, and people get tired of using “He’s the Babe Ruth of football” or “He’s the Michael Jordan of tennis,” they will say, for example, “The Stanley Cup is the Holy Grail of championship trophies.”

People who actually go on quests to find ancient artifacts such as the Grail, or who seek to find the hidden, “secret,” “real” truth about the Grail are really quite pathetic and need to get a life. This is why movies that satirize Grail quests, such as Monty Python and the Holy Grail, or movies that have fun with Grail quests and don’t take themselves seriously, such as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, are very enjoyable. Which, of course, brings us up to our most recent Grail movie, The Da Vinci Code.[2]

I already gave a review of the plot and the flaws of Brown’s “historical” research in my Da Vinci Code book review (click here: http://spidgetales.blogspot.com/2006/03/davinci-code-my-book-review.html). Now, the movie stayed pretty faithful to the book, unlike many film adaptations. However, there is a reason screenplays often stray from the original book. Stories from books that take over a dozen hours to read need to be compressed into two hours. You cannot keep everything from the book in the movie.

Grail quests need stars like Indiana Jones. We want a guy who not only can interpret all these ancient artifacts, but who can kick some bad-guy ass, while showing sexual tension and chemistry with the leading lady. Tom Hanks, as Robert Langdon, did not have much to do. He had no gun or whip, a crappy hair-do, and had less chemistry with Audrey Tatou than I do with Jessica Alba.[3] The charm that Tatou had in Amelie just wasn’t there for her as Sophie Neveu. Paul Bettany wasn’t bad as Silas whipping himself, although I could have done without the bare-ass shot. We get one nude scene, and it’s not the Hieros-Gamos rite, but an albino ass.

The only great acting jobs belonged to Jean Reno as Bezu Fache and Ian McKellen as Lee Teabing. I think there is a rule that Reno must be in every American movie that takes place in France or Quebec. When we finally reach the climax, two hours into the film, there were two more twists, one awkward, the other annoying. In a movie that took itself so seriously[4], it was awkward to see this 'Scooby-Doo and the gang' climax, with the bad guy doing the evil laughing and hissing his way all the way to the police car. And, no, God forbid we end the movie there. There needs to an extra half hour of closure crap to do. We get it. The movie is deep. Dan Brown is to the “real” history of Christ what Oliver Stone is to the “real” history of JFK’s assassination. Next time, movie, take yourself less seriously, give your hero a little dash of Bruce Campbell’s Ash character from Army of Darkness, throw in some undead skeletons, and at least have fun with it.

[1] Which legend holds is buried somewhere in Giants Stadium.
[2] I think you may have heard of it if you haven’t been holed up under a rock since back when Hilary Duff really was jailbait.
[3] Alba wanted me so bad, but I told her I needed space. She moves too fast, and I want a girl who is more of a challenge.
[4] Which is kind of a joke in itself when you think about the fact that in the opening scene, a dying geriatric strips himself naked and paints a pentacle on his chest in blood.


Blogger Tim Simard said...

Saw the film as well. I burst out laughing at the end when everyone shows up. It was like a bad family reunion. Oh well. The book was OK, and really hokey. The movie was trying to be too much since most people who go see it know the story very well. Although there was one guy in the theater I went to who apparently hadn't read the book, because when all the twists started unravelling, he kept going "oooooh" and "WOW!" in a very loud manner. If I didn't know better, I'd think he was being sarcastic. It would have been funnier if he was.

2:32 PM  

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