The Da Vinci Code (USA, 2006)
Directed by Ron Howard
Starring Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Ian McKellen, Alfred Molina
Film adaptations of bestselling books are very often rushed, sub-par affairs. When a book becomes a bestseller, being widely advertised and talked about everywhere, the pressure is often on to make the film quickly, before the hype begins to fade and chances of a big opening weekend are dashed. Directors often react to this tight tournaround by slavishly reproducing on screen the words that are on the page, resulting in works like One Day and the first two Harry Potter films which don't use cinematic storytelling effectively to justify their stories outside of their hype.
The Exorcist in America, sprinkling paying punters with holy water as they went in and giving them support numbers to call on their way out.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade has very little basis in historical fact, but it's still a powerful statement about faith and the dangers of placing material gain before spiritual fulfillment. Likewise, The Last Temptation of Christ speculated on Jesus having sexual relationships, but it used this provocative idea to explore temptation, desire and the burden the Messiah faced during his time on Earth.
The Ninth Gate, Roman Polanski's preposterous late-1990s thriller about a gateway to demonic power contained in books. While its initial premise was promising and its first ten minutes forbidding, the film quickly descended into a quagmire of plot holes and poor special effects, culminating in a totally botched ending. But while The Ninth Gate sees Polanski showing contempt for both his audience and the material, The Da Vinci Code commits the far lesser sin of well-meaning incompetence.
A Beautiful Mind but also wrote Batman and Robin.
reviewing the film on BBC Radio 5Live.
Paul Bettany is wasted in a role that becomes meaningless when played dead straight, and Alfred Molina is largely phoning it in. Only Ian McKellen gets the room he needs to express himself, and we miss him whenever he's not on screen.
NEXT REVIEW: Step Up 3 (2010)