More Thanh Words

"My name is Thanh and I'm a Blogger". Now that I have admitted to that, I can say that I'm a stereotypical "geeky" Engineer who enjoys sci-fi books and movies and into all things technological. I also love music and have a passion for FOOD. I'm a social person and like to talk to people. I hate people who are fake or overly aggressive. If you're also into some serious discussion, with a pinch of sarcasm and a dash of real emotion, then please read on.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Movie Review: The Da Vinci Code


Ok so if you've read on, I assume that you have read the book and/or don't care about knowing the slightly different ending in the movie.

So lets start at the beginning. Firstly I have read the book twice and thoroughly enjoyed it both times. I don't believe in any religion so the whole religous aspect didn't disturb or upset me. I just saw the book as a great mystery/thriller story with very clever use of art and history.

The movie adaption in my opinion doesn't get anywhere near the brilliance of the book. Maybe it was because I was carrying too much anticipation or that I already knew the story. Although, when I read the book the second time, I still remembered the story clearly but yet I still enjoyed it. I think the difference comes down to the book being able to give you so much more detail. I think there is a saying that "genius is in the detail". Despite the movie running for over 2.5 hours, it still wasn't able to capture the background exposition told in the book that made each character more real, the slight jokes that brought a little humour, the slow incremental solving of the clues and just letting you know how the characters are feeling at certain times.

Firstly the casting as a whole was quite unexpected to me. The casting of Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon was a strange choice in my opinion. Tom Hanks just doesn't feel like a Robert Langdon. I imagined Langdon as being more handsome and more scholarly. I guess I thought Langdon would look more like Viggo Mortensen with glasses or something like that, a hero type character. Also Sophie Neveu played by Audrey Tautou I always thought was blonde for some reason. I don't know if they mention her hair colour in the book but thats what I keep thinking. Teabing I always imagined as a tubby character. Silas was more or less how I imagined him. Alfred Molina as Bishop Aringarosa just made me want to laugh each time. He reminds me of a character that used to be in the sitcom "Spin City" with Michael J Fox, the funny guy who did the press conferences. Having said all that, I think most of the performances are good, especially Tautou. I think Hanks just looked lost throughtout the movie and I didn't really believe him, maybe because he didn't fit my hero character profile so my opinion is not that objective. Also just as an aside, what has happened to Hank's face. The years have not been kind to him. He actually looks rather scary. His eyes have started to sink in and are quite close together and his forehead just seems to go on forever. Has he had some plastic surgery that has gone wrong?

The movie plot sticks quite faithfully to the book. Langdon is called to a crime scene where the Louvre museum curator Jacques Sauniere has been murdered. Sauniere is lying on the ground like the Vitruvian man, with his arms and legs apart like a star shape. Since Langdon specialises in symbology, the French police lead by Bezu Fache think he may be able to help. As it turns out, the police suspect Langdon is the killer due to the message that Sauniere left on the ground with Langdon's name. Sophie Neveu comes to the aid of Langdon because she believes that her grandfather, Sauniere, thinks that Langdon can be trusted by leaving a crytic clue telling her to find him. Langdon and Neveu end up going on a treasure hunt where they try to find the Holy Grail and in the process uncover lots of truths. Along the way they enlist the help of Teabing, a Grail fanatic who turns out to be the bad guy and wants to reveal the truth about the Grail to the world and in the process threatens to kill Langdon and Neveu.

The movie doesn't change any of the main plot lines, but it does make minor changes for the worse I think. For example, the biggest and worse change happens at the end. Rather than making Sophie the real grand daughter of Sauniere as in the book, they say she was adopted. Also her grandmother and brother are not alive. I preferred the book version where her grandparents separated her and her brother so that one of them would be safe and carry on the blood of Jesus should people try to harm them. Rather than both Neveu and Langdon slowly realising that Sophie is the royal bloodline of Jesus through Sophie's brother recognising the wooden rose box and then Sophie's grandmother recognising her, in the movie Langdon all of a sudden gets this idea that Sophie is of royal blood from thin air. Utterly unbelievable. And then he goes on to tell her that "Oh, you're the descendant of Jesus", which was more comical than enlightening.

The movie just lacked the details that make the book what it is. You don't learn about Langdon's past relationship failure and why he was initially hesitant to get close to Neveu. The chemistry between Tautou and Hanks was totally lacking in the movie as opposed to the book where they get quite close, with small touches of the hand and suggestive looks at each other. You don't learn as much about Sophie's life as a kid and how she used to solve all these puzzles and her relationship with Sauniere. You don't get more thorough analysis of each clue and how to solve it. Paintings are not discussed to show all the various anomalies that they each have. For example, in the Last Supper painting, there was no discussion of how there is a hand that seems to be holding a knife floating in air apparently belonging to none of the deciples. We don't learn about the Madonna on the Rocks painting and what Madonna holding a baby signifies etc etc. Even how Langdon and Neveu escape from the Louvre was so easy, they basically just walked out without anyone stopping them. They left out the lovely scene where Neveu threatens to destroy an invaluable painting unless the Louvre security guard put down his gun and get down on the floor and put his hands behind his back. That scene was a classic. The security guard had been working in the museum for many years and he was also attached to the paintings and knew how much they were worth, in terms of money and history and so was wanting to protect them. Another good scene that I liked was when Teabing poisons Remy (his butler) at the end by giving him an alchoholic drink that he had spiked with peanuts, knowing that Remy was allergic to peanuts. However, in the movie, Remy just dies after drinking the alcohol and you just assumed he got poisoned by drugs instead. These examples just goes to show that the book is far superior in my opinion. It just isn't possible in a movie to show so much since you just can't describe all this with pictures. A picture may be worth a thousand words as Langdon said in the movie, but it fails to deliver the characters thoughts to the viewer and lengthy exposition dialogue that works in a book just looks and feels boring in picture.

Overall, I would say that it was an ok movie but just failed to live up to my expectations. It didn't deliver anything fresh or different from the book to make it better. Any changes that the movie tried to make didn't add to the story but instead detracted to it. The fun of slowly solving all the puzzles has been removed in the movie and the process is so much quicker. Langdon solves the Crytex so easily and instead of finding a smaller one hidden inside, he already finds the paper with the clue. All the many double meanings of the clues that Sauniere leaves behind are not explored. If you haven't read the book, you may see the movie differently. However, as I have read it, I already knew what was going to happen and just didn't get excited about it. I still recommend seeing the movie to get a general idea of the story. Then go and get the book and read it carefully looking up the paintings and places on Google like I did and you will enjoy the whole experience so much more.

Overall Rating: *** out of 5.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll wait for the DVD

5/19/2006 12:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was tempted to read this blog. But managed to pull out. I have just bought the book, so going to crack on with it and then go and watch the film

5/20/2006 8:26 AM  
Blogger thanh7580 said...

Yeah read the book first, then watch the movie and come back and read the blog and see if you agree with what I think.

5/20/2006 11:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Da Vinci rules, fullstop.

5/22/2006 11:02 AM  
Blogger mark. said...

hey great review, I have to agree with your perspective of the film, such as the analysis of the puzzles, was fairly rushed but I guess the movie dragged on a bit more than i expected, also taking into consideration that I had not finished reading the book befor I watched the movie.

So much for the spoiler, argh, I forgot.

5/24/2006 11:15 PM  
Blogger thanh7580 said...

Hehe it wasn't really much of a spoiler, just a difference between the book and the movie where I thought the book ending was much better thats all.

5/26/2006 6:14 PM  

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