Tuesday, May 16, 2006


I'm not fond of Ron Howard as a director and I thought the book was a ridiculous story, badly told. So why do I want to see the movie so much?

As curiously uninvolving a director as Opie is, I got to admit that he doesn't get in the way of his material. Think about CINDERELLA MAN, A BEAUTIFUL MIND, THE PAPER, GRAND THEFT AUTO, RANSOM, HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS... What is the common aesthetic thread that holds these movies together?

That's right, there isn't one. Ron Howard has no trademarks.

So by definition he can't ruin the experience for you. As long as they competently translated the book to film, it will be the same ride that hooked readers everywhere and spawned a cottage industry. Many bookstores now have a Dan Brown section, prominently featuring the book, Brown's OTHER book, and every title the industry can cram the name Da Vinci into without stepping on copywrites.

As for the ridiculousness, it stems from the absurd lengths that Dan Brown goes to in making his novel read like a treatment. His characters are shallow because he can't illuminate their inner lives - how would you show that in a movie? He throws in car chases, he puts all the exposition in dialog, he even remarks that the lead character resembles Harrison Ford. (It's a shame that didn't work out. He probably would have asked for rewrites though.) The Da Vinci Code is that rarest of things, a novelization of screenplay that hadn't yet been written.

It reads so badly because it's in the context of a novel. It will probably be quite breezy on the big screen. And it's not about characters, this story - it's about puzzles. Encrypted messages, anagrams, where's Waldo (Waldo played by Mary Magdalene) -- I'm betting that watching the movie will be like a wide-screen Dolby surround soduku, 2 and a half hours of the best puzzles ever.

And if I'm wrong, at least I'll have the twisted pleasure of watching Hollywood screw up another sure thing.

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