So naturally after all the fuss I had to see the movie, still registering a solid “rotten” on Rotten Tomatoes.
And with good cause–the movie was terrible. Not that the book was that excellent (although mediocre books tend to lend themselves to good movies). But the movie managed to sap itself of anything good in the book, while keeping the melodrama fully intact.
To begin with, the movie played down the puzzles a great deal. After the massive ad campaign that was the Da Vinci Code Quest, the movie not only cut out several of the puzzles from the book (for example, in the book there were two cryptexes, one nestled inside the other), but also managed to avoid any elegant symbolism, clever anagrams, or other cute little mind tricks, which might have made it enjoyable. Part of what made reading the book tolerable was the puzzles–and that joy wasn’t there in the film. I waited through the credits for a puzzle which never came, and I peered in vain at the screen in the hope of a crafty easter egg. Such was not to be.
Also, the movie weakened Sophie Neveau’s character a great deal. In the book she is a fiery, powerful redhead with a formidable mind (several of the puzzles would not be solved without her help). In the movie, Robert Langdon solved every single puzzle with his God-like male brain while Neveau ran around like a chicken with her head cut off. Particularly since the themes of female empowerment and Goddess mythology figured prominently in the book (and somewhat in the film), it was rather offensive to have such a weak, useless female character, a toothless wonder with a pretty face.
They made some changes to the plot, a not unreasonable thing, but it seemed to me like they spent needless time on exposition and running scenes over again to make sure the viewer got it–time that could have been better utilized in such a long film. Things were made explicit which didn’t need to be, and took a great deal of the mystique out. (And they revealed the identity of The Teacher way earlier than they should have, spoiling the enjoyment of the film for all.)
My honest opinion of the film is that it’s not really worth seeing. It’s one of those mundane actiony sort of movies with a cute girl being saved by a brilliant man. What little air of mystery the book had was completely destroyed by the film, which rode roughshod over the whole concept of mind games and puzzles, presumably because they thought the audience might be baffled.
My these grapes are tasty.
[The Da Vinci Code Movie]