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DA VINCI CODE

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I thought that the Catholic Church had damn good taste when it came to bannning movies. The pedigree is right up there- Scorsese's 'Last Temptation of Christ', Monty Python's 'Life of Brian', Polanski's 'Rosemary's Baby' and Smith's 'Dogma'. Now with all the hullaballoo over Jesus' private pecadilloes suggested in 'Da Vinci Code' the Church is giving more credit than required to what is clearly a load of hokum. I have no idea how the book read but the movie comes across as an uninteresting and ridiculous theological ramble.

From all the hype generated I was expecting an explosive, full-blooded potboiler and what came across was a plodding, pretentious conspiracy theory film. The blame falls square on Ron Howard and his screenwriter Akiva Goldman both Oscar winners for the (highly-overrated) 'Beautiful Mind'. Forgive the vernacular, but the movie lacks, most of all, 'balls'. So we get a bunch of weepy oversentimental characters who prefer to indule in nostalgia and past relationships rather than get the hell on with the quest for the 'Holy Grail'.

The movie's second greatest failing is the acting. The ever wonderful,always michievious Tom Hanks delivers the worst ever performance of his career. Goddamn it, he was better in B-grade stuff like 'Burbs' and 'Bachelor's Party'. He was better in 'Bonfire of Vanities' for crying out aloud. He's about as bored as a Literature student in a quantum physics lecture. Audrey Tatou, whom i had a severe and lingering crush on after 'Amelie' is at Hank's heels in terms of 'wooden' and 'lost' expressions. Alfred Molina is wasted for ten minutes worth of accented spouting and Paul Bettany is doused in Pilsbury flour looks menacing but acts campy like he's coming straight from 'Rocky Horror Picture Show'. The only actor who infuses any life into the proceedings is thesp Ian McKellan. But it's hard to blame the actor themselves given what they're asked to do. Namely, stand around and deliver long drawn theobabble on cue. Any efforts to make a character even mildly interesting is not visible. Even, 'Da Vinci'wannabe 'National Treasure' released a couple of years ago ran on pure hokum but was rendered mildly amusing by enjoyably goofy performances by Nic Cage and Gang. One at least felt like rooting for then. All that the characters of the code inspire is a sense of ennui.

Lastly and most unforgivably the movie cheats. The final twist of the movie is improbable. There is no way the killer at the end is who he is shown to be. It was when that dawned upon me that I lost all respect for it. It was cheap trick. 'So dark the con of man' as Brown would put it.

There are interesting snatches sprinkled around. The controversial areas of the movie, narrated with great brio by Ian McKellan manage to sustain your interest and thats kudos to the thesp. But each time any kind of kinesis is gathered Howard rambles psuedo-thelogy or launches into nostalgic flashbacks.

As for the controversy, some parts are a bit scathing and believers might feel a bit disgruntled but if they stick around long enough, they'll walk away satisfied that if ever Brown's book held any credulity the movie destroys it completely. But perhaps they may want to ban the movie for whole different reasons then.

What a waste? Such hype and attention over a movie that reads like a thelogical section to an MBA entrance exam.

If Leornado:Mona Lisa::Jesus:????

If you're looking for a movie that explores about the same themes, is church-banned, kicks some muck around but also has two pot smoking prophets and a strip dancing Salma Hayek and is a whole lot more fun, go rent 'Dogma'.

As for 'da Vinci Code', it's like an old puzzle book. You may indulge in it one day when you're either in the heat of it or have nothing else to do. But once you've cracked it, it's about as good as trash.

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