I was intrigued to see the film even though I thought the book was a real disappointment and a waste of trees and time (you can see my book review here: Saturday 9th July 2005). I've said for a while that I thought it would be a better film than it was a book (which is something I will rarely say as books give you so much more that is not captured on celluoid) so was interested to see the film despite all my opinions on Mr Browns lucklustre novel.
I've also been surprised that the film has been fairly universally panned in the press. I've not seen a positive review of it as yet and many places have called it this years dullest film. I, strangely enough, now find myself defending Mr Browns novel. For starters I guess they haven't read the book. The book is hardly an action thriller. It's a 590+ page book that covers the event of ONE day. The book is slow, the book doesn't give the reader anything real to think about - just leading them from one encounter or discovery of a bit information to another. THE DA VINCI CODE WAS NEVER GOING TO BE A FAST PACED FILM!
I also find myself flowing against public opinion once again.
Public Opinion on the book: Loved It
Angus Opinion on the book: " the book is actually about as controversial and ground breaking as a book as Busted is to Punk rock."
Public Opinion on the film: (So far) Found it boring
Angus Opinion on the film: Far better than the book and actually pretty enjoyable
Yes that's right folks. I, Angus, Hater of All Things Brown "LIKED" the film adaptation.
And it is an adaptation. They have changed a number of things from the book (as with almost all adaptations) some of which are for the better others of which are not. Maybe because at it's core The Da Vinci Code seems to have been written for the big screen as well as airport lounges. Maybe it's because I prefer wasting a couple of hours at the cinema than several nights reading a bland piece of fiction. In anycase I enjoyed the film.
Yes, it is slow paced. But, as I mentioned before, anyone who has read the book should be expecting this. The ideas and settings suit the big screen and have been very well handled by Ron Howard (yes, he of Happy Days fame). Tom Hanks does a fine job as Robert Langdon - won't be getting any Oscar nominations for it, but he portrays him well and once again comes across as a good actor - Audrey Tautou (whom I've loved since Amelie) is still sexy and lends Sophie Neveu an added element of charm and sex appeal, Ian McKellen is brilliant as Sir Leigh Teabing and Paul Bettany is an excellent Silas (the albino monk).
It was odd seeing Alfred Molina playing Bishop Aringarosa as whenever he came on sceen I just kept thinking about Doctor Octopus! Jean Reno (who was excellent in Leon/The Professional - depending on which continent you live on) put in a disappointing performance as Captain Fache. I can't really put my finger on it but he just didn't come across as well as he did in the books. This is probably partially because of some changes they made in his storyline.
I had to smile at a couple of scenes (mainly street scenes in Paris) as the director must have done some homework because some of the location he uses (that aren't mentioned in the book) are actually fairly important in Templar history. One in particular near Notre Dame :p
Overall I was surprised by the film. Despite my views on the novel - and the fact that I feel they changed a few of the good bits in the transition - I found myself enjoying the film and would certainly recommend it to people as long as they like slower paced more thinking films.
I can't believe I've actually said good things about this! If you've ever thought about reading the book - don't. Go and watch the film instead. If you want a proper book dealing with the Templars and conspiracy theories go and read the excellent Focaults Pendulum by Umberto Eco instead. That is something that deserves the title of 'Masterpiece'.
School Report: B (Ron Howard somehow made a bland book into an interesting film)