Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Hollywood Reporter Chimes In...

The whole review is here.. What we are going to start seeing here is funny reviews in which the secular critics - who get paid for being dogmatic - are going to back off completely nailing this apparently bad film, because they like what it says. They have to cover themselves for the sake of retaining some credibility. But watch a lot of the critics pick up the studio line of "Hey, it's just a dumb, fun pop corn movie!"

Anyway, here are snips from Hollywood Reporter...


Strictly as a movie and ignoring the current swirl of controversy no amount of studio money could ever buy, the Ron Howard-directed film features one of Tom Hanks' more remote, even wooden performances in a role that admittedly demands all the wrong sorts of things from a thriller protagonist; an only slightly more animated performance from his French co-star, Audrey Tautou; and polished Hollywood production values where camera cranes sweep viewers up to God-like points of view and famous locations and deliciously sinister interiors heighten tension where the movie threatens to turn into a historical treatise. The movie really only catches fire after an hour, when Ian McKellen hobbles on the scene as the story's Sphinx-like Sir Leigh Teabing. Here is the one actor having fun with his role and playing a character rather than a piece to a puzzle....


...But the movie is so drenched in dialogue musing over arcane mythological and historical lore and scenes grow so static that even camera movement can't disguise the dramatic inertia...

...The plot is driven not by its characters but by solutions to puzzles, the breaking of codes, interpreting covert references in works of art and a dazzling display of historical knowledge, all of which works terrifically in the novel but puts the brakes to all screen action. Hanks' character is far too reactive and contemplative for a movie action hero, and the cliched nature of those drifting in and out of his orbit hits home with jolting simplicity...

Screen adapter Akiva Goldsman has definitely punched up Brown's third act. He has actually improved on the novel -- at least for those who buy in to the historical controversy that Jesus left behind a royal French bloodline -- by giving the story a broader, more fulfilling payoff than the novel. If one doesn't buy into that controversy, then the story becomes just that much more forced and corrupt. (The final revelation produced a few titters in the first press audience to see the film.)

Howard and Goldsman can't do much, though, with mostly colorless characters designed around idiosyncrasies and weird scholarly talents -- sort of academic X-Men -- rather than flesh-and-blood personalities. No chemistry exists between the hero and heroine, and motivation remains a troubling sore point. Why does the innocent professor flee? Why is Sophie so eager to help? Why is anyone doing what he does when so many characters and subplots turn into red herrings?

One questionable "cinematic" addition to the film are flashbacks to ancient biblical and medieval historical tableaus in the Holy Land and Europe that illustrate Prof. Langdon's continuous lectures on religious history. These look as if some prankster spliced scenes from last year's "Kingdom of Heaven" into the film as a bad joke.

..."Da Vinci" never rises to the level of a guilty pleasure. Too much guilt. Not enough pleasure.

1 comment:

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