I saw a few movies this weekend that I wanted to mention.
The DaVinci Code
I really couldn't envision Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon when the casting for The DaVinci Code was announced. And I was sure that the story would be butchered, since staying true to the many convolutions of the novel would be difficult. But I was pleasantly surprised; both by Hanks's portrayal of Langdon and the adherence to the original novel.
Granted, this film does omit much of what makes the book though-provoking. The "hidden meanings" of Da Vinci's paintings are not as thoroughly analyzed as they are in the novel - only The Last Supper gets a through analysis (which would be difficult to omit, since the film's plot hinges on this analysis). The disparity in the background of the Mona Lisa gets a brief mention, but no real explanation of the significance. And the hidden meaning of Madonna on the Rocks gets no mention or explanation at all. Many other scenes from the book are completely changed or omitted and the film's ending is similar, but vastly different from the book's.
The novel leaves the actual definition of the "Holy Grail" vague and never actually defines it, though Marie, Sophie's grandmother, does have this to say:
"For some, the Grail is a chalice that will bring them everlasting life. For others, it is the quest for lost documents and secret history. And for most, I suspect the Holy Grail is simply a grand idea...a glorious unattainable treasure that somehow, even in today's world of chaos, inspires us."
And later, Langdon has this revelation:
The quest for the Holy Grail is the quest to kneel before the bones of Mary Magdalene. A journey to pray at the feet of the outcast one.
The film, on the other hand, very clearly defines the "Grail" of the story. And changes much along the way.
The casting of Sophie was perfect. The actress who plays her, Audrey Tautou, often resembles Catherine Zeta Jones, but is an honest-to-goodness French-person. She's cute without being overtly sexy (the whole "Langdon-Sophie" romance angle was cut from the film) and plays the part convincingly.
Oh, and Gandalf (Ian McKellen) was also in it. Who could complain about that?
Also commendable, but annoying if you have somebody with a big head obscuring the lower portions of the screen as I did, was the French, Latin and Italian dialogue that was actually in these languages (with translated subtitles). I find it puzzling when movies put dialogue in English, when you know the characters would actually be speaking their native tongue to one another (see Syriana for a perfect, and recent, example of this).
The film ends, as I mentioned above, quite differently from the book. Near the ending, Langdon has a touching conversation with Sophie regarding religion, Christ, and the Grail. It's not in the book (in any form) and does make the alternate ending much more satisfying than it could have been. The final, actual ending is quite close to the book's - but still slightly different.
I had hoped to see Aeon Flux in the theater, but never quite made it. If I had known just what the film was all about, I'm sure I would have made a greater effort (the only thing I knew, other than the casting of Charlize Theron as the main character, was that it was based on a cartoon from MTV that I had never watched).
The film opens with this premise:
A Virus Kills 99% of the world's population.
A scientist, Trevor Goodchild, develops a cure.
The five million survivors live in Bregna, the last city on Earth.
The Goodchild dynasty rules for 400 years.
Rebels emerge to challenge the Goodchild regime.
I dunno...I suppose the acting wasn't that great (I suddenly realized that Charlize Theron has a very monotonal voice during this film). And the sets weren't really anything extraordinary (though they weren't bad). The special effects were good, but all special effects are good these days. And Charlize, while striking and scantily clad for a good part of the film, wasn't what made this film remarkable, in my view.
The visual elements of the story, while impressive, didn't draw me in - it was the story (set in 2415) that made me take notice (at least the parts of the story when Charlize was covered up). The story combined several elements common in science fiction stories: the visions of the not-so-distant future, cloning, genetic engineering and man-made viruses wiping out humanity. At times, I felt as if I was in the middle of a Philip K Dick story, but, unless I'm mistaken, he had nothing to do with this film.
The ethical questions raised by human cloning (and the resulting complications) were what most intrigued me about this movie. I won't give the whole movie away, but you will (if you haven't seen the film) be surprised by the cloning-issue that arises. The rest of the film is pretty standard sci-fi/Matrixesque fare: super-tough genetically enhanced killing machines vs armies of storm troopers, tyrannical despots suppressing the little man, privacy issues/the thought-police, and technology vs nature. Of course, the real "despot" isn't always obvious, and that's one aspect of this film that makes it more interesting.
There's so much more I could say about this film, but I'd hate to ruin it for anyone who hasn't seen it. The ending leaves things wide-open, so Aeon Flux 2 could be hitting theaters any day now.
It's not for everyone, but I liked it. Check out the gallery of images to help you decide if it's worth a look.
Everything You Want
Everything You Want is a straight-to-video release that I stumbled upon in Blockbuster only because Shiri Appleby is on the cover. Had it not been for her, this would have been just another romantic comedy I could, and happily would, have lived without forever. But I decided to give this one a chance, since one of my favorite former-Roswellians was in it.
As I mentioned, this is a romantic comedy. As such, there's not a whole lot to keep a guy interested. Nor is there much that I have to say about the film (not without ruining it for everyone else, anyway). It is a bizarre love triangle reminiscent of that Rachel Leigh Cook movie, She's All That (Shiri also plays an introverted artist) that is a bit more bizarre than one would imagine. One of the three members of this "love triangle" is played by an English actor, Orlando Seale, and manages to be both annoying and endearing. Yeah, I know. I'm a big girl.
Will Friedle plays the one funny character in the film, Calvin Dillwaller, who is basically that spaced out guy who can always be counted on to say something mind-bendingly weird and honest, but is basically a nice guy underneath it all. His part isn't major, but he gets quite a few laughs.
So...go see it if you're a fan of Shiri Appleby. Skip it if you're not. If you're on the fence, check out the gallery of images.
Go ahead and disagree with me here. It won't make you a cool kid, but it will let you blow off some steam...