Friday, 26 April 2013

The Da Vinci Code - The Friday Adaptation

As it's Dan Brown week on our website (all DB books reduced!) it seems the best time to have another look at one of the most controversial books of recent times, along with it's film companion. Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code was released with massive uproar in 2003, and I mean book-burning, marching-on-the-street uproar due to it's 'challenge' on the relationship of Jesus with Mary Magdalene. In hindsight a lot of people have decided it was all a bit over the top (you think!?) and all the hoo-har only helped to actually promote the book and shift an extra few million copies. With most things that get hyped be it a book, film or game, it was only a matter of time until it was turned into a film.

The UK book cover
I read the book around the time it came out and was sucked in from the start. In 2 days I had consumed all 500+ pages. Many people have said how appalling the writing is but at the time I just wanted to read fast paced, ridiculously high concept genre fiction and it's exactly what I got. But what about the film, seeing as this is the Friday Adaptation? It held so much promise. Taken from a major novel, directed by Ron Howard of Apollo 13 and Happy Days fame (and one of my favourite films Frost/Nixon), featuring Tom 'Can-do-no-wrong' Hanks and several highly regarded character actors including Gandalf, Doc Occ and Leon. But boy, did they mess it up.
It's a box! A magic religious box! Let's talk about it!
The issue I have with it is that it's just plain boring. The high stakes, high paced action from the book seems to have taken a back seat. Sure there is action but it seems subdued, as if the director thought the story might be lost in an array of explosions and blood. What it needed was MORE chases, MORE explosions. It is the perfect vehicle for it. Maybe the critics of the book were right and the source material is just not good enough but the way it is directed is more akin to a political thriller than an action thriller. A director as unsubtle as Brett Ratner (Rush Hour) could have made a better film. Howard, you dropped the ball on this.

The one thing that sticks out more than anything else though is Hanks. He is known as a nice guy, a charmer, so why is his Robert Langdon such a dullard? Unlikable in fact. Leaving his charisma behind was the biggest gaff.
Dan Brown, looking like a boss
The film made a tonne, so much so that another Dan Brown film was made featuring Hanks. Angels and Demons was an appalling film and even worse than The Da Vinci Code. I know it's appalling as on my Honeymoon in Sri Lanka, the only TV channel we could get was a movie channel that played Angels and Demons, Coraline and Iron Man on repeat. Due to a deafening ear infection (literally) I was in bed for 4 days with the TV. I have seen these three films about 6 times each in 4 days. It kinda made me think that actually the books might be a bit rubbish, but having only read The Da Vinci Code which I liked, I can't substantiate this.

RottenTomatoes.com has given it a dour 25%, with the public giving it 64%. I agree with the critics. It's not a disastrous film, just more a mess. My wife really enjoys it though. On the nose with the most agreeable quote comes from the critic Rob Gonsalves from eFilmCritic.com

"Any Movie with a sulking albino assassin begs for campy, self-aware treatment, but Howard and scriptwriter Akiva Goldsman serve it all up straight-faced"

"If I look down, maybe no one will notice how bad this film is"
Brown's new book is released in a few weeks and will again will sell in the millions. Maybe it's time I re-read Da Vini Code or gave one of his other books a go to see if my taste has changed. Get your Dan Brown fix from our (superior) books right HERE.

What did you think of the book and film?



Michael