Warning! This site contains satire, cynical adult humor, celebrity gossip, and an occasional peanut by-product or two!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The DaVinci Code

Ahem… (cough)…ahem… okay People; let me just take a moment to remind all of you that it is ONLY A MOVIE! I’ve been amazed in the past week or so about how much near-hysteria has developed around the country over The DaVinci Code. Even our own comfy haven for enjoying the best that Hollywood has to offer, the Essex Cinemas, has received threats of organized protests from Christian groups who object to this film even though they haven’t seen it.

Well, I have seen it, and I can tell you that if anyone wants to be p.o.’ed about the movie it should be the Roman Catholics and that is about all, and they are not the ones worked into a lather and wanting to carry signs in front of our favorite neighborhood theater complex. Granted, the Vatican has issued an edict chastising the movie, but then I’d expect the Catholic Church to latch onto this like a dog to a bone. After all, this movie depicts one scandal it can finally honestly say it is not guilty of perpetrating and covering up. And there are no young boys involved either. Oh, and the other possible lobby that has a legitimate gripe with the movie might be people with albinism, but I don’t think there is a large Albino contingent around here organized to picket.

As to the movie itself, as one who never read the book, I can tell you that I went in with no expectations, and I came out quite entertained after nearly two-and-a-half hours of twists and turns that kept me pleasantly engaged throughout.

The story is hardly a secret as the “code” itself has been broken by the media worldwide, hence the seeming outrage, but the movie, a piece of fiction, is a roller coaster ride for those who enjoy puzzles and scavenger hunts while being hunted along the way.

It begins with the murder of an elderly curator at the Louvre by an Albino monk, Silas (Paul Bettany, Firewall; Wimbledon). The French police call in Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks, Road to Perdition; Forrest Gump) because the deceased was found with an inexplicable
cipher painted on his body in his own blood. In no time Langdon solves that riddle and realizes that it begins a trail of clues to something unknown but obviously important enough for the dying man to point to in his final moments. These clues are all in plain sight in the works of Leonardo DaVinci, and yet remain unremarkable to anyone not looking for their hidden meaning. What Langdon also quickly grasps is that Captain Bezu Fache (Jean Reno, The Pink Panther; Ronin) only called on him because he believes without a doubt that it was Langdon who murdered the old man.

With the help of a remarkable cryptologist, allegedly also called to the scene by the police, Langdon makes a dramatic escape and they suddenly find themselves bound together as fugitives. The cryptologist, Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou, Dirty Pretty Things), was the granddaughter of the victim and is as determined as Langdon to find his killer.

From here the plot begins a race throughout Paris, the French countryside, and eventually to England as the duo run from the police while uncovering clue after clue of the mystery Sophie’s grandfather left for them to uncover. That mystery, of course, is the crux of the Christian uproar, which objects to the mere premise ~ even in a work of fiction ~ that Jesus Christ did not die a virgin, but was in fact married and left behind the beginnings of a bloodline that continues to the present day.

Fortunately for Hanks and Tautou, the film becomes electrified when they turn to Sir Leigh Teabing (Ian McKellen, The Lord of the Rings trilogy; The X-Men trilogy) for help. McKellen can turn the driest of moments into pure honey, and he does just that in his role as the wealthy Holy Grail hunter who assists them in their quest. It’s always nice to have a friend with a private jet just when the police are on your tail, and, frankly, McKellen steals the show from the moment he makes an appearance. At 67, it seems McKellen may be a late blooming leading man in the offing.

By the end of the film the action winds down with predictable results, and the final “secret” of the bloodline seemed as obvious to me as if it had been flashed across the screen in the first twenty minutes of the movie, but that hardly made it unpalatable. The DaVinci Code offers breathtaking scenery and a lovely score by Hans Zimmer (Hannibal; Gladiator), which, along with the non-stop action and well-paced drama, makes this one of the best action films of the year so far. Adding in the step-by-step deciphering of the code only heightens the fun and the tension as it is done in hurried circumstances, leaving this viewer sharing the nervousness of the characters as they try to figure out how the clues mesh together.

As for the Catholics, the subplot that implicates the Vatican and a sect of the Church called Opus Dei as the guardians of this secret and also the ones most fervent in keeping the world from
learning this secret even at the cost of numerous lives, well, certainly worse things have been said about the Church in the past twenty centuries or so and it is hardly an earth-shattering or trauma-inducing event. The Church has also condemned The Last Temptation of Christ (for suggesting much more graphically that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and quite fertile), Dogma (for suggesting Jesus had a contemporary grand-times-who-knows-how-many niece), Stigmata (Gasp! The Church is hiding another Gospel because it says some things about Jesus the Church doesn’t want you to know), The Order (Yes, a priest finds yet another secret Catholic society), The Exorcist (because the Devil made them do it), Priest (wherein a homosexual priest struggles with his celibacy, and we all know they don’t exist anywhere, ever), and The Magdalalene Sisters (because the filmmakers would have you think that nuns could be less angelic than Maria Von Trapp). It would seem that basically anything that has a depiction of a Catholic ritual or member of the clergy is automatically condemned regardless of its’ possible cinematic or cultural value, so take that as you will. Me? I grew up Catholic so nothing surprises me ever. After twelve years in parochial school I’ve seen it all.

As for the idea of boycotting The DaVinci Code? That seems as ridiculous to me as boycotting Poseidon because it doesn’t present realistic water safety procedures. C’mon. It’s a movie. And definitely one of the best now playing at the Essex Cinemas.

No comments: