5/20/2006

The Da Vinci Code

Posted by Brandon |

WARNING: SPOILERS!!! I may have spoiled the movie for some of you. I forgot to warn you of this so I apologize to anybody who wanted to see it and then was put off by my review. So if you want to see it, please don't read this review...

As a big fan of Dan Brown's flawed, but still riveting book The Da Vinci Code, I have been anxiously awaiting the movie version for a couple of years. Naturally, Death? and I faithfully had to go see the movie on opening night despite our reservations about the adaptation and all of the poor reviews that the film has received from critics.

Maybe we should have trusted our gut and stayed away. Of course, a film is rarely as good as it's book, especially when the book is as detailed and just plain long as this one. I was willing to give the movie a break because of the challenges of adapting it, but even then, The Da Vinci Code is a massive disappointment on so many levels that it boggles the mind. Rather than dwell on all of it's problems, including the added "that's just a theory" dialogue and Langdon's testimony at the end that are obviously aimed at diffusing criticism, I have one major beef that I have yet to see anyone address.

In the book, Sophie Neveu is, more or less, the protagonist. She is smart, sassy, sexy and she is the equal of, if not smarter than, Robert Langdon. Langdon is the one that gets swept up by Sophie and is caught in the action. Sure he is smart and helps solve many of the puzzles, but he is the one that looks on in wide eyed amazement as the clues and puzzles unfold in front of them. For those of you who are Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy fans, Sophie Neveu is to Robert Langdon as Ford Prefect is to Arthur Dent.

In the movie, Sophie (Audrey Tautou) is completely stripped of the intelligence, moxy and strength that she possesses in the book. Langdon (Tom Hanks) solves all of the puzzles on his own and practically drags Sophie behind him on his quest for the grail. In fact, at one point in the movie you see them cross the street. Langdon has a hold of the back of Sophie's arm, right above the elbow. If you have ever had this done to you, you know that means you are being controlled 100% by the person holding you. Sophie exists merely because of how the film ends but needs protection and looks like a deer caught in the headlights throughout the rest of the movie.

Why Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman chose to go this route with Sophie's character is beyond me other than the fact that this is what America expects out of female characters in big summer blockbusters. They are weak and helpless and need saving. Apparently, this is what Hollywood thinks we want out of our women. If I were a woman, I would be extremely offended and tremendously disappointed. Here there was an opportunity for a blockbuster film to have a very strong female lead and the men running the show decided to marginalize her and make the film male dominated drivel.

And the movie suffers for it. The book is great partially because of the interplay between Langdon and Sophie and how the process of being pushed by Sophie inspires Langdon to continue and change and eventually leads to a romance. Instead they opted to portray Langdon as a protector and a father figure to Sophie, or one of the Knights of the Templar. He is the hero and she is his damsel in distress making the relationship one big, long cliche' that ultimately falls flat and goes nowhere, just like the rest of the ridiculously frustrating Da Vinci Code.

10 comments:

Chase said...

D'oh!

That's pretty disappointing. I haven't even finished the book yet, but was looking forward to the movie. That sucks that they dumbed down Sophie. Grrrr.

I'm going to protest on Ron Howard's lawn. Or something.

(btw - this may be the first time I've commented here...I read everyday though!) :)

tablefor4 said...

I'm with Chase. I'll bring lawnchairs and we can make one huge neighborhood block party out of it, and NEVER leave. I think your blog is great Down With Pants. I was going to go see the movie yesterday, but had other things to do instead. I was hoping they weren't going to make Sophie some wounded lamb in the movie. But they did. That bites. The book was really good though. And your right, the book is always better than the movie. Alot more detail.

Brandon said...

Thanks for the comments! It's always nice to hear from new commenters.

Chase - I was wondering who you were. You are one of my MySpace friend and yet I had no idea who you were.

Tablefor4 - Thanks for the compliment! I just found your blog the other day. First Fairbanks blog I have ever found.

Protesting on Ron Howard's lawn is fine, but we all know who he is and what he does. Middle of the road is what he is all about.

Now Dan Brown and Akiva Goldsman are another issue. The fact that Goldsman did the adaptation and Brown allowed it are the biggest crimes committed. Howard should have rejected the idea, but those two were the original offenders.

tablefor4 said...

Very true!!! Look at that...I'm planning on parking my butt on the wrong lawn! Goldsman and Dan..that's right. (looking up where they live on Google Earth as we speak)

kapgar said...

That really does suck about Sophie as I loved her character in the book and was really looking forward to Audrey Tautou (yum) in the role.

Grrrr....

Chase said...

Haha!! You shoulda asked who the hell I was intruding on your myspace page! I've been reading you since the GBBMC or whatever that thing was called we did.

;) I'll be sure to annoy you from now on so you'll NEVER forget. (Just ask Kevin)

luis said...

hey you should post this review on FilmCrowd.com :) your blog url is displayed at the bottom of each review you submit so it might even send a little traffic your way. we have a page up for Da Vinci Code right here: http://www.filmcrowd.com/content/world/all/5092/Da_Vinci_Code_The/8/0

luis said...

sorry, here's that link again:

Da Vinci Code on Filmcrowd

suze said...

oh, that is disappointing. grr to hollywood for taking a strong female character i could admire and then making her just like all the others that I hate...

Hilly said...

Got your tweet and yes, I totally agree. I fell asleep halfway through it then did not even want to finish it later at 3am when I could not sleep. You know, if something is too crappy to sit through at 3am when you are bone ass groggy...well.

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