Now, I have NOT read the book, though Mrs. Dr. Phil has, and I've avoided a great deal of the controversial stuff, but I was interested in seeing whether Howard could pull off a mystery/adventure film.
Which brings us to...
The Da Vinci Code (PG-13)
Lovely cast. Ian McKellen has been in everything the last few years. And Jean Reno, the enigmatic Frenchman of Ronin and the almost childlike assassin in "I can never remember the name of the movie". I found Tom Hanks to be sincere and I really liked the young French woman. Russel Crowe's imaginary roommate from A Beautiful Mind is a murderous monk.
The reviews have put some dampening on the wild speculations for a big blockbuster score for this movie. Yet, I can't help but wonder if the reviewers are reacting to the pacing and the use of dialogue and infodumps. Sure, there's a couple of car chase scenes, but we're here for the mystery and misdirection, wandering around sites and trying to see how the clues match the "ground truth". Maybe they are just objecting to the dark/noir look to the film. Me? I liked the look.
That said, there are some real problems with some of the plot. We've got these French cops smart enough to GPS bug Tom Hank's coat, but dumb enough to ALL go driving willy-nilly around Paris like the Keystone Cops and let him escape. We're so high tech in this film, a lot of stuff comes too easy. Including some of items and parchments being written in English. And the security in the Louvre is so lax, why this movie should be viewed as an invite for every criminal in the world... oh wait, this is fiction, isn't it? Maybe I shouldn't be taking this stuff so seriously.
I figured out two of the biggest "secrets" and had a strong hunch on two more, but was satisfied with most of the other "reveals". Not quite convoluted enough to require a scorecard to keep track of which side everyone is on (or appears to be on), but it's a Hollywood movie. Just not one of the complexity level of The Usual Suspects. It's more Highlander without any duels.
As far as the protesters go, I'm just not convinced this is the movie to take a stand on. The "fun" in this movie, as well as some of the appeal in the book, is not the particular flavor of conspiracy theory or religious revisionism. It's the puzzles, man. I mean, face it -- we've seen so many Knights Templar movies, to say nothing of Holy Grail quests. Frankly, I never understood why I didn't hear any major protests about Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Was the whole epic Holy Grail effort simply to save Dr. Jones (Senior)? Kill a couple of bad Nazis? Then lose the Grail forever, making a mockery of the devoted protection by the Knight over the centuries? Or if you want to recall how often we've been down some of this "revisionist" territory before, consider Jesus Christ, Superstar and The Last Temptation of Christ, in re Mary Magdalene. And goodness knows what those rotten, foul-mouthed kids of South Park have done with this stuff. I find this story rather tame by comparison.
And I find myself agreeing with those who say this might be a "teachable moment", on so many levels. Plus I don't have a lot of sympathy for people who read a work of fiction or watch an adventure movie and use it to replace either their knowledge of history or their own personal faith. It most certainly didn't touch me that way on either count.
Still, I enjoyed The Da Vinci Code -- good summer movie. And the Holland 7 theatre where we saw it, allows you to "upgrade" those ridiculous bags of popcorn to a same-sized tub for an extra twenty-five cents. Now that's value... (grin)
TRAILERS: The Lake House: Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves. I'd heard a little buzz about this one coming out, but it turns out to be something of spec fic film. Sandra and Keanu are exchanging letters about this lake house -- except she's in 2006 and he's in 2004, or some such. The mailbox in front of the lake house is acting as some sort of portal. Okay, I might go see this. Cars: Longer, more detailed version of this Pixar animated movie. Now I know a bunch of the plot. It's still going to make a pile of money for Pixar. 007: Casino Royale: Well, we still have Dame Judy, but they've got Yet Another James Bond. From one snippet of conversation, might we assume that they are going to "explain" away all the others by arguing that one gets "assigned" to 007? As opposed to thinking that there's been but one James Bond all these decades. Lots of people hate the Bond guy, but that's been a cottage industry for years. The worst thing this movie can do is to NOT take away the bad taste in the mouth from the David Niven/Woody Allen Casino Royale. Miami Vice: Michael Mann is back to take his little Florida police TV show to the big screen. Mrs. Dr. Phil says it won't work unless it has the SAME title music and the prancing pink flamingos. Well, duh! They've got new Crockett and Tubbs, thought don't know if there'll be cameos for The Old Guys.