The truth and fiction of The Da Vinci Code has been mind numbingly belabored in recent popular criticism and religious discussions. One book and its film equivalent have managed to engender a brief religious panic among the faithful and curiosity among the ambivalent. Once again the Catholic Church, more specifically a sect of the Church, Opus Dei, finds itself under attack and availed of the opportunity to set the record straight. Christians of various denominations have seized the Da Vinci hype and turned it into an opportunity to educate and recruit followers. I believe that this brief phenomenon, because it will be brief, illustrates the power of the arts not only to reflect human experiences but to influence or affect them. Essentially, the book and the film serve their intrinsic purpose.
I still haven't decided whether I want to view the film, so I've been satisfying my curiosity with reviews. I've found the majority of these reviews to be pretty straight laced with a touch of humor here and there. This review by Dana Stevens is laugh out loud funny! Read this one if you don't read any other.
Worse Than the Book
A fruitless search for fun in The Da Vinci Code.
By Dana Stevens
Posted Thursday, May 18, 2006, at 6:24 PM ET
As I slogged through the vast wastes of expository dialogue that comprise Dan Brown's best seller The Da Vinci Code, one of the few compliments I could honestly pay the book was that it was eminently filmable. Its dense, labyrinthine story line is propelled not by language, but by images: a naked corpse splayed on the floor of the Louvre; a car chase around Paris in a minuscule SmartCar; a giant, self-flagellating albino monk. So movie-ready is The Da Vinci Code that Random House has even put out an illustrated edition of the novel, featuring photos of the works of art and architecture that propel the thriller's plot. I found reading The Da Vinci Code something of a trial—to paraphrase Mark Twain: Once you put it down, you can't pick it up—but at least, I told myself, it'll make a swell movie.
So much for that theory. Ron Howard, a maker of glossy, populist entertainments (Splash, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind) interspersed with the odd pointless clunker (How the Grinch Stole Christmas), has squandered an opportunity to treat us to a big, dumb summer movie that could have combined the occult frisson of The Exorcist with the paranoid energy of All the President's Men. Given the silliness of the source material, The Da Vinci Code stood little chance of being a great film, but it could easily have been a fun one. Instead, Howard takes a strangely respectful approach to the overheated mysticism of the novel, turning the film into that most boring of genres: the pious blockbuster........Dana Stevens is Slate's movie critic. You can write her at firstname.lastname@example.org.