24 May 2006

Movie Review: The Da Vinci Code

Prior to watching the movie, I've read lots of reviews, mostly negative, about the movie (I am, of course, ignoring the nonsense that those religious extremists are riling up). Personally, I've read the book and found it pretty good (though perhaps a bit overrated, but nonetheless excellent). But of course, knowing this, I'm careful not to fall into the trap of expecting the movie to live up to the novel's standard, which is all but impossible for that matter. With that in mind, I found the movie pretty good, despite what many said.

The pacing of the movie was appropriate, though perhaps it went a bit to speedy at the beginning. In other novel-adapted movies like The Chronicles of Narnia and The Goblet of Fire, I can't help but feel a rush-me-through feeling whereby some events are just given a touch-and-go treatment, more of a brief mention for the sake of mentioning instead of having a purpose in the storyline. But I was quite glad that this did not happen in The Da Vinci Code. Sure, some events and happenings (and explanation of the controversial history) were shifted around, and some puzzles were removed, but I think it is more detrimental to have them included, unless the Ron Howard is prepared to have a three and a half hour movie.

Another aspect which I felt the director has employed very well was the "overlap" of the past and present. Because this story has lots of explanations of history as well as some flashbacks of the characters, Ron Howard used overlap of scenes of the characters in the present day with the history they are explaining or flashback they had. For example, while the main character was musing over a puzzle concerning a particular (dead) person in front of his tomb, images of the latter's work appeared like hallucination, indicating the main character's train of thoughts. It was good, but what's greater, in my opinion, was that it was used sufficiently, but not overly.

A bit of a letdown was the acting. Not that the acting is poor, but given that this movie has big names like Tom Hanks, Sir Ian McKellen and Jean Reno, I did not notice any exceptional acting. Perhaps a reason for this is that the character has already been described in the novel, so the actors had no choice but to follow. If the actors were to deviate from the characters as described in the novels, it would probably be worse (Michael Gambon in The Goblet of Fire comes into mind).

Nonetheless, I think it is a pretty fine movie. For anyone who has not read the book, I think the movie is worth watching if you are not intending to read it. For those who had, I'd suggest you not to carry high expectations, or to expect the movie to follow closely to the novel. Plus, with so many Christian and Catholic churches calling for a ban, how can you not watch it?

I can never understand why some Christians and Catholics (and the other related religions) are so disapproving of the movie. It's not as if the author or movie crew have not said that the story (and history) is fictitious. I mean, I have no idea why they have to attack something that cast their religion in a different light. They can bring up clarifications and point out factual errors in the story, but going to the lengths of calling for a ban of it? It's a bit extreme. Hell, there are so many movies with poor physics; I don't call for them to be withdrawn!

Well, however unreasonable, at least that's the most they'd probably go to. If someone were to write something controversial about the Qur'an, it would set those extreme Muslim cleric railing off like Lee Kuan Yew after the 1984 election "defeat".

ADDENDUM: found this hilarious... erm... advertisement?... of a website separating the facts and myths surrounding the story.

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