Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

cast: tom hanks, audrey tautou, jean reno, ian mckellen, paul bettany, alfred molina
directed by: ron howard

back in the 70’s, guitarist extraordinaire eric clapton was proclaimed god by fans and critics alike. as we boldly move forward in this 21st century, tom hanks, judging from his influential movies and award-winning roles, should be considered the movie industry’s one and true god. if only for this reason, the movie is a must-see no matter what pre-conceived notions one might have regarding its highly controversial story.

putting man on a pedestal of greatness or even godhood, i should point out, is a very humbling act; humility, on the other hand, is a trait worthy of a god; therefore, everyone has a capacity to be god, which only makes sense as we are suppose to see god in each of our fellow man – and this includes even the bitterest of our enemies.

but enough with my misguided philosophies for a moment, and allow me to talk a little bit about the movie. tom hanks is the prime suspect in the murder of a museum employee – i can’t remember now if he was the curator but i’m sure he was a high ranking employee. anyway, the employee, in his dying moments and with the use of his own blood, unknowingly implicates tom in the crime. it turns out the victim was simply sending a secret message to her granddaughter, audrey tautou, instructing her to find tom so that they might decipher the codes he has left them, and in so doing preserve the secrets that has been passed down to him as a member of the priory of scion.

the movie is a great mystery-thriller as tom and audrey crack one code after another in the streets of france and england. this mystery solving is easier said than done as the french police are after them – tom, for the murder he is suspected of committing, and audrey, for abetting tom, a crime suspect.

as if being hounded by the french police was not enough trouble, there existed a secret group of catholic bishops, who, in cahoots with the controversial religious group opus dei, were also after the secret the murdered museum employee was hiding, and their intent was to destroy the secret as the truth it possessed would prove too damning and would most likely lead to the destruction not only of the catholic church but the entire christian faith. to confound matters even further, a third group will surface somewhere near the climax of the movie, also obsessively interested in possessing the secret but for altogether different reasons.

the “supposed controversy” i will not delve into as it has been heatedly argued just about everywhere from friendly conversations to internet discussions that to put in my two cents worth is pure overkill. the controversy is overly exposed it detracts from the overall enjoyment of the movie.

but if you really want to know my proud opinion about the “supposed controversy”, i think jesus himself would enjoy the movie as it is a parable of the sacred feminine. it figuratively shows us that despite all our pretenses in praising our mothers, we really have minimal love and respect for the female sex. and jesus, the master storyteller himself, who loves speaking in parables, sees what the hidden hand is doing.

but that’s just me …… “a man, a human in flesh, but not by law”.

rating: 5 of 5 stars * * * * *
book’s still better, but never would i pass up on the movie.


rob said...

WARNING: SPOILERS in this comment. Skip this if you haven't yet read the book or watched the movie.

I was a bit disappointed with this movie, for almost the same reasons why I wasn't totally happy with the book.

First of all, the movie was faithful to the original book in precise detail. This is good most of the time. But in this case, I felt they could have changed the story a bit to make it more interesting and fix some flaws in Dan Brown's novel.

What to change? Start with the underwhelming ending. After I read the last page, I remember sitting dumbfounded thinking "huh? that's it?". It felt lame. And I found it hard to believe that the Knights Templar would derive so much power from such a secret.

Teabing was my favorite character and I hated what they did to him in the end. He was so smart, yet he acted so dumb. If he really wanted to get the grail, why turn against Langdon? It doesn't make sense.

The French Police chief turning out to be Opus Dei - it was out of character for him, as he didn't seem like the religious type.

The Cryptix key was another thing that was lame. The puzzles felt contrived. Once Sophie and Langdon "discovered" her family via the secret basement, it occured to me that anybody could have stumbled onto it. So you didn't even need the Cryptix to find the 'grail'.

I may not 'get it', but the grail doesn't seem like that big a deal. Sure it's a major piece of history that was kept under wraps by the Church for centuries, but other than that, it doesn't match the magnitude as well.

What would be a better ending? Perhaps if the 'grail' turns out to be the lost gospel of Mary Magdalene, or letters and accounts from Jesus's descendants. That would be very cool. And definitely a secret worth keeping.

Cast-wise, I was a bit concerned with who would play Sophie (I imagined Diane Kruger while reading the book), and the french actress was ok. Tom Hanks too was good for the role of Langdon. I imagined Teabing to be a larger, fatter individual, and I wish they had made the inside of his house look better in the movie.

I also liked the historical flashbacks where they showed Knights, witches, medieval councils, etc. I wish they were longer as the scenery looked very authentic.

Normally I am against tweaking the story to make a movie version more interesting, but The Da Vinci Code could sure use some tweaks.

rmacapobre said...

> underwhelming ending

you are probably right. right towards the end it became a tad predictable. i havent seen the movie yet.

i did like the other more important issues implied in the book. it was amazing to read about how the church authorities systematically made women into second class citizens. its amazing because we all see it today. some turn a blind eye to it. but come on its there.

rmacapobre said...

i have read the book when it was released and i have finally seen the movie just this weekend. the movie enhances (puts forward the important parts of) the book.

it is not uncommon for books turned to movies to translate well and it often disappoints book readers. not this one for me. i loved it! i am perhaps biased because it is set in france and it has the most charming actrice on it - audrey tautou

i got excited about none fiction parts of it. for example the election to make jesus divine at
the council of nicea and how things work with the opus dei. tithing and all sorts of medieval practices. church sanctioned murders. these are all true from history.