Tuesday, June 27, 2006
  Theatrical Review: The Da Vinci Code

Alright, in the interest of full disclosure… yes, I am a Roman Catholic.

Yes, I am offended by the way Dan Brown twists history and relies on falsehoods so that he can make the claim that his fictional novel The Da Vinci Code is based on historical fact. The "historical background" that Brown used for the "factually accurate" basis of his novel is really nothing more than a bunch of distortions, misrepresentations, and mostly outright lies.

Having said all of that, I have to say that I did make an honest effort to see The Da Vinci Code with an open mind. I came up with a list of reasons why it was entirely possible for me to enjoy the movie:

So I gave this movie what I thought was a very fair chance.

And, yes, I did have a reaction to the way the movie misrepresents the Catholic faith and the foundation of Christianity. This paragraph will address those issues, and for the rest of the review, I'll just focus on the film as a work of cinema. The lies and distortions about the history of Christianity that Dan Brown relies on in his novel… the libelous assaults on the Catholic church and the insinuations that Christians are blind followers of a transparent lie… those awful elements of the novel remain in tact in the movie. Yes, they did offend me. However, believe it or not, I honestly was able to push that aside and watch the movie simply for what it was. Dan Brown, after all, is not the first person who ever profited from the public's penchant for conspiracy theories and fantastic lies. He's not even the worst of that ilk. If people are too lazy to investigate on their own, then I can't really blame Dan Brown for making a buck based on the idiocy of the average schmuck.

So you can choose to believe me or not, but I promise you that I watched the movie objectively… and, objectively, I came to the conclusion that this movie had some really nice looking specific shots… that it featured a really fun performance by Ian McKellen… that the other actors in the film, especially Tautou and Hanks, didn't seem to want to be there… and that this movie tells one of the most insultingly stupid and implausible stories I've ever seen.

The Da Vinci Code is one of those thrillers that relies on twists and turns. So many twists and turns, in fact, that they turn into tangles, jumbles, knots and rubbish. Honestly, I've seen episodes of Scooby Doo that were more credible than this movie. Forget the fact that the story is historically inaccurate. Forget the fact that the principle conflict of the story is based on the premise that 2000 years of human history were shaped by a lie. Forget the ludicrous argument that this movie makes about the Catholic church; that it's full of authority figures and zealots who know that their faith is a lie and still choose to practice it. Forget all of those insultingly obvious reasons to disregard this mess of a movie. Even without those absurdities, there are enough roll-your-eyes-and-throw-your-hands-up moments in this film to disgust even the least critical movie viewer. Here are just a few:

By the time this movie was over I was so frustrated and offended by the stupidity of it all that I'd honestly forgotten to be frustrated and offended by the way it misrepresented my faith.

As a subversive history lesson, The Da Vinci Code is a total failure. You know that going in. What's especially disappointing is that it also fails as a cinematic experience. It's the kind of escapism that makes you cheer the closing credits so you can finally escape from it.

If you want to see a fun performance by Ian McKellen, stay home and rent… well, basically any of his movies. He's always good. If you want to see a good performance by Audrey Tautou, rent A Very Long Engagement or Amelie, both of which are good movies. If you want to see a good Tom Hanks film… well, there are quite a few good ones to pick from. Just pick one.

If you want to waste two and a half hours of life, try decoding The Da Vinci Code.

Any code that can be solved must involve some sort of logic, even if it's just it's own internal logic. This movie doesn't even make sense within it's own context. It's unsolvable… like those nonsense questions such as "What came first, the chicken or the egg?"

Questions like "If a tree falls in the forest…"

Or, more appropriately, "What is the sound of no hands clapping?"

Great review.
I loved the photoshopped images, I look forward to seeing them on MySpace.
that is exactly how i felt about the book: insulted, ripped off, exploited and smirked on. Only you said it better. I won't see the movie, but I do appreciate your selflessness.
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