May 20, 2006 The Da Vinci Code
Studio: Columbia Pictures Rating: PG-13 for disturbing images, violence, some nudity, thematic material, brief drug references and sexual content.
You've probably already heard about the controversy surrounding the new film starring Tom Hanks and directed by Ron Howard.
Many other critics have panned "The Da Vinci Code" but I'm not on the same page as they are.
The movie is based on Ron Brown's book which has sold somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 million copies.
However, I'm not one of his readers. I went into the movie knowing the basic plot points but in the dark as to how director Howard was going to put the story onscreen.
Basically, "The Da Vinci Code" puts forth the theory that Jesus and Mary Magdalene secretly married and had a child and that for centuries religious nutjobs have been killing anyone who came close to revealing the truth.
When a French museum curator is killed, an American expert on religious symbols is called in to help with the investigation. Tom Hanks plays Robert Langdon. He soon finds himself in the middle of the conspiracy and is chased by both the cops and creepy monks.
Hanks is assisted by Audrey Tautou, who plays a cryptographer. And also by Ian McKellen. He's an amateur historian who has some answers to the questions being posed by Langdon.
The Vatican has ripped this film as blasphemy. Christian groups all around the world are decrying the depiction of Jesus as less than divine.
But as a movie, "The Da Vinci Code" has a few more problems than its touchy religious subject matter.
Adapting any book into a film is a tricky endeavor, and this is no exception. "Da Vinci" is a very talky movie. The characters discuss and pontificate and theorize endlessly.
There's so much standing around and a real lack of doing anything that for all of the grand scale, historical accuracies and overarching themes woven into this fictional story, it feels a bit light.
As we bounce through history from the time of Christ to present day and at several different points in between, this film falls short of the epic it wants to be. It's not horrible, and at times the story is interesting and gripping.
While Hanks is as dependable an actor we've ever had, this performance falls below his usual high standards. He's a little bland and tends to almost disappear at times. French actress Tautou is certainly beautiful but she also fails to add much to the mix. On the other hand, McKellen and Paul Bettany are the highlights of this cast. They deliver wonderful performances. It's almost like they get it. For all of its earth shattering plot twists, "The Da Vinci Code" is a fairly standard mystery thriller. Treating it too seriously takes away from its fun. Unfortunately most of the people involved seem to take it way too seriously.
For all of its flaws, it is still a well-made and occasionally engaging movie. But too many little problems and a pace that could have been much quicker keep this release from reaching the highest levels of greatness.
On my rating scale, "The Da Vinci Code" hits a Triple. But it could have been so much better.
THE BIG BANG THEORY Tonight at 7:30 PM The Herb Garden Germination
Amy and Sheldon spread gossip as part of an experiment; Howard decides to take a big step in his relationship with Bernadette