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May 19, 2006
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Volume 34
Issue 20
 
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'Da Vinci Code' is a lifeless turkey
'Da Vinci Code' is a lifeless turkey
by Derich Mantonela - SGN A&E Writer

Opens Friday, everywhere

"Da Vinci Code" - if you're a fan of the 50-million-copies-sold novel you'll probably hate the movie version (it fails to measure up in almost every aspect), or if you're simply curious to see what you hope might be a passably entertaining date flick, you're going to be mightily disappointed too, because this is one lifeless, boring, overlong and shockingly incompetent turkey.

Nothing in this film ever comes to life under Ron Howard's mundane, plodding, talky (tell, but don't show!), by-the-numbers direction - certainly not Akiva Goldsman's sophomoric, pompous, vapid script (insipidly adapted from Dan Brown's book - but the latter, himself, as executive producer, probably deserves his share of the blame). And definitely not the actors, who either ham it up like circus clowns (Ian McKellan as a wealthy eccentric religious conspiracy buff, living alone with his manservant but curiously reticent in the Gay showboating department; Paul Bettany as a crazed, self-flagellating, albino bodybuilder monk), or who shamble through their roles like self-conscious, embarrassed auditioners (Tom Hanks, in his dullest performance yet; Audrey Tautou, perfectly matching him in the zero chemistry department; Alfred Molina, floundering like, well, a flounder out of water).

This film is as sloppy as it is gloomy and muddled. Early on, the Hanks character, a Harvard "Professor of Symbology," no less, retrieves from his pocket a wrinkled piece of paper with some mumbo-jumbo scrawled on it (clues left by a dying man). Yet, a few minutes prior, we'd seen an Evil Gendarme (Jean Reno, in a glum, expressionless walk-through) crumple the paper and put it in his own pocket - how did Hanks end up with it?

Later on, there is a scene in which an airplane containing Hanks and Tautou is surrounded by police when it lands, yet the cops fail to find them in an immediate search of it. Next thing we know, the missing ones turn up in a van parked next to the plane, thus making their escape. Huh? Credulity and logic are strained from the very get-go and this only gets worse as the plot plods along to its unlikely and thoroughly unsatisfying denouement.

As for the film's "substance," the "Jesus as man or god?" conspiracy thing, it is impossible to take seriously from the very outset, and the ludicrous myriad of jumbled clues and secrets, so easily decoded by the supposedly brilliant Symbology Professor, are hindrance rather than help in our attempts to make heads or tails of it, or to give a damn.

What's really sad here is that umpteen millions of dollars went into this fraudulent travesty, tiny fractions of which cash could have been doled out to the great benefit of struggling newbie filmmakers who do, in fact, have a clue - every one of whom could have made a far, far better movie than this one.

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