Monday, May 22, 2006
Movie Reviews: The Da Vinci Code & The Producers
The Da Vinci Code
In Paris on business, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is summoned to the Louvre, where a museum employee has been murdered. Near his body is a strange cipher. To solve the riddle, Langdon joins with the victim's daughter, French cryptologist Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou), and learns of a centuries-old conspiracy surrounding the Priory of Sion, a secret society dating back to the days of Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli and Leonardo Da Vinci. The brainy duo must race through Paris, London and elsewhere to solve the puzzle and uncover the ancient conspiracy before the answer is lost forever.
Cast Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Jean Reno, Ian McKellen, Alfred Molina (more)
Director(s) Ron Howard
Writer(s) Akiva Goldsman
Status In theaters (wide)
Genre(s) Mystery, Thriller
Release Date May 19, 2006
Running Time 149 minutes
MPAA Rating PG-13 - for disturbing images, violence, some nudity, thematic material, brief drug references and sexual content
I am one of those few who have not read The Da Vinci Code, so I come to this movie with no preconceived notions of what I expect to see on the screen. As a thriller/mystery movie, it average at best. The movie suffers from horrible pacing issues and a general lack of intelligence. The movie just has a hard time keeping the audience on the edge of its seat mainly because there is so much exposition to get through that it just bogs down the flow of the film. Ron Howard tries to beef up some of these scenes with flashbacks and visualizing Langdons ability to break codes and see patterns in much the same way he did with John Nash in A Beautiful Mind. These attempts to make some of the exposition more interesting work sometimes but fail for the most part; the flashbacks to historical events are particularly clunky. The overall plot is fairly pedestrian and the twists are telegraphed fairly early on in the movie. The acting talent is top notch but for some reason the actors involved seem a bit stiff. Tom Hanks does well for the most part but his performance is at times a bit stilted. Sadly, Hanks and Audrey Tautou have very little chemistry on screen theyre interactions seem forced and lack the emotional punch youd expect. Alfred Molina, Paul Bettany, and Jean Reno do the best they can with paper-thin roles. Ian Mckellen is the lone noteworthy stand out. Mckellen seems totally at ease on screen and clearly understands his character inside and out. As a whole, The Da Vinci Code doesnt cover any new ground; the main hook of the movie is something thats been explored to a certain extent in previous movies like Martin Scorseses The Last Temptation of Christ and even to a certain extent Kevin Smith Dogma. In the end, this story probably would have been best served if it had remained in the safe confines of a hardcover.
Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick play Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom. Bialystock is a past-his-prime producer who swindles elderly ladies out of their money. Bloom is a mousy auditor whose book-checking inspires Bialystock: He'll launch an intentionally terrible production, pre-sell tickets and make off with the cash once it bombs. Their stooge: no-name playwright Franz Liebkind (Ferrell).
Cast Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Uma Thurman, Will Ferrell, Gary Beach (more)
Director(s) Susan Stroman
Writer(s) Mel Brooks, Thomas Meehan
Status On DVD
Genre(s) Musical, Comedy, Remake
Release Date Dec. 16, 2005 five cities; Dec. 25, 2005 wide
DVD Release Date May 16, 2006
Running Time 134 minutes
MPAA Rating PG-13 - for sexual humor and references
Musicals on screen have experienced a bit of revival mainly because of films like Moulin Rogue and Chicago. As a result a lot more Broadway shows are making there way to celluloid. The Producers in an entertaining musical comedy that would probably cater more to the stage crowd than the general movie watching public. Broderick and Lane have a ball playing their respective roles and it shows on the screen, Lane in particular brings a ton of energy his performance here. Uma Thurman and Will Ferrell are both excellent in their roles even if there singing talent isnt quite up to snuff with the rest of the cast. The film has a very retro feel to it, bringing to mind classic musicals from the 50s and 60s. The song and dance numbers vary from small and personal to extravagant and lavish, hitting their mark for the most part. At times some of the dancing sequences seem to drag on a bit to long for my taste. The film is shot very straight forwardly unlike Chicago which used various quick cuts and shots to beef up some sequences. This may make the film a bit inaccessible to some mainly because it makes no pretense for the singing and dance that occurs. If you dont like musicals then youd probably be best to steer clear of this one, otherwise sit back and enjoy the comic goodness of this movie.