I flew by the house this evening after work to let the dogs outside then left again pretty quickly. Since Wendy had LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS at Falcon Theater tonight, I’d decided to go see THE DA VINCI CODE at my local multiplex. I’d purchased…
Writer: Akiva Goldsman (screenplay), Dan Brown (novel)
Director: Ron Howard
Producer: Columbia Pictures
Studio: Imagine Entertainment
Distributor: Sony Pictures Releasing
Rating from MPAA: PG-13
Review from 67rocks.
Four words – wrong star, wrong director.
Hanks and Howards best work, both together or separately, have been when they embrace intrinsically American values in their films. All their most memorable movies have involved individuals overcoming hardship through an unshakable belief in love and courage, usually set against an outwardly US-centric interpretation of events. Think Apollo 13, Forrest Gump, Cinderella Man, Saving Private Ryan – all fine films, all centred on an American hero rising above their circumstance.
What is conspicuously absent from either man’s resume is a European-set, religious-themed mystery thriller. Having sat through their arduous, laborious adaptation of Dan Brown’s novel, I can now see why.
The plot is total bunkum – a hodgepodge of “what ifs” and “oh my god” moments spun on the ludicrous premise that Leonardo Da Vinci had some sort of insight into the life of Christ – but loopy story lines have not stopped many films from being enjoyable.
What makes The Da Vinci Code so deathly dull is the heavy-handed, oh-so-serious approach Howard applies to the material. Combining with his cinematographer to give the film a sleepy nocturnal feel (not so clever given the 150min running time), Howard’s film is just a constant flow of expository clues that fail to create any tension or engender his leads with any human qualities. Even for those that haven’t read the book, a couple of obligatory ‘big twists’ in the story are very obvious from early-on.
Hanks (looking more like Jim Belushi than ever) and McKellen blather on and on and on about knights and saints and symbols and God as if they were giving a lecture at some Ivy-league school for the supernatural; Audrey Tautou is lovely but has little to do in a role that is plot- not character-driven. Jean Reno ambles thru another of his token French cop parts (he was better in the Pink Panther); Paul Bettany’s evil albino Silas at least got some audience reaction, though giggles and guffaws were probably not what he was hoping for.
Whatever sense of fun and excitement the book provided is fully-drained from this adaptation. Come credit time, I had the realisation that all this hokey, airport-novel religious hooey and B-movie plotting would’ve made for a great X-files episode in that series heyday. As the end-product of a publishing phenomenon and carrying the tag “Years Most-Anticipated”, its a boring dud.
My college buddy Scott sees movies. LOTS of movies. He’s seen more movies in the last 15-20 minutes than you will see all year. He also writes up an annual best-and-worst report of the movies he’s seen each year, and kindly gave me permission to post his list here. Enjoy!
So here is the long-awaited (or at least, long-promoted) list of my Best and Worst films of 2008.
Please keep in mind that these are strictly my own personal tastes, I’m not asking anyone to agree or disagree (goodness knows there will be PLENTY of that with these two lists!)… I’m just giving you my personal views on these flicks.
Also, keep in mind that these are picked from only the movies I’ve seen. (That seems obvious enough…Â but when you look at my Worst list, you must remember that there were probably much worse movies out there last year, but I just choose not to see those.) So there ya go.
And without any further ado… here are:
Scott’s BEST 15 Movies of 2008
First (as is my tradition)… the Honorable Mentions. So close to the Top 15 and yet… not so close. But certainly great movies worth the mention (hence the award). This year was really tough… probably because I saw so many movies this year. A lot of quality films were released. So in the end, I erred on the side of being OVERLY inclusive… and thus I chose10 Honorable Mentions. Ridiculous, I know. But – hey – it’s my list, right?
And they are:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – Beautifully filmed. Brad Pitt as a little old man. Long… but great. (if it were shorter, I might have put it into my top 15)
Role Models – Funny. Pee in my pants funny.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall – I couldn’t forget this one! Such a fun time.
The Wackness – Overlooked. And wrongfully so. This is one’s not wack.
The Duchess – Royally good.
Horton Hears a Who! – Wanted to hate it. Ended up loving it.
Speed Racer – Why did people hate this movie? It was brilliant!!!
Rachel Getting Married – Best dishwasher scene and toast scene all year.
Milk – Penn & Brolin. Rockin’ the Harvey. Great film.
Towelhead – Small, overlooked. Brilliant and brutal. Hard to watch. Hard not to watch.
Well… those are the ALMOSTS… let’s move on to the CHOSEN FEW.
And here they are, starting from Number 15 and working our way up………….
15. The Visitor – Richard Jenkins is amazing, but so is the rest of the cast. This film is so simple and so good.
14. JCVD – Van Dam-tastic!!!Who knew this guy could act? Who knew this guy has a heart bigger than the size of his round-house kick? We all do now.
13. Happy-Go-Lucky – Sally Hawkins gives the best female acting performance this year. Hands down. (Maybe in the past 5 years!) She’s won countless awards for it and yet wasn’t nominated for an Oscar. Unbelievable. The film centers on her performance and rests on it. And is utterly delightful.
12. Slumdog Millionaire – Believe the hype. This is a wonderful film. Not the absolute best of the year, but a feel-good (mostly) movie that is dazzling to watch.
11. The Strangers – Horror movies get no love. This one is creepy beyond measure and completely unforgiving. Succeeds on every level.
10. Bolt – Everything a family animated film should be: fun, adventurous, beautiful to watch and well-written.
9. Frost/Nixon – Two stellar starring performances supported by numerous wonderful supporting performances. Directed brilliantly by Opie. As usual.
8. Tell No One – A French thriller/psychological drama/mystery.The kind of film that American filmmakers dream of making one day. So good.
7. The Dark Knight – A little-known film that didn’t get much press… but darned good.
6. Tropic Thunder – This is one of those movies that you hope never ends. So funny and exactly on the mark!
5. Wall-E – Pixar never misses. Never.
4. I’ve Loved You So Long – The subtlety in this film is unparalleled. One of the best dramas in many years. The best closing line all year.
3. In Bruges – Best written script. Tightly structured and delightfully wicked. I predict that McDonagh could be my favorite filmmaker in the years to come.
2. The Fall – Best Art Direction in years. Best Cinematography in years. Not a single nomination or even a mention by any major awards. A crime. This film is nothing short of brilliant and utterly beautiful.The story is tender and well-constructed. A real-life fairy tale weaved together with a spoken one. Touching and amazing. Words fail describing the beauty of this film.
… and my NUMBER ONE movie of 2008 is …
1. Let the Right One In – Who’d have thought a Scandinavian coming-of-age love story between a little boy and a little girl vampire would be so tender and so perfect? Heck, who’d have thought it would even be made! But it is – by far – the best movie of the year.
You’ve seen my Top 15 (plus 10) of 2008. Now for the real Stinkers!!!
There are numerous reasons that a movie can fail. These films cover all of those.
And – yes – I actually paid to see all of these. I have failed.
So, here they are:
Scott’s WORST 15 Movies of 2008
15. Doubt – A fine example of a brilliant playwright that wrote a brilliant play … and then showed what a horrible director he was by completely screwing up his movie with absolutely terrible direction. Booboo, that scary, scary wind! Haley, get thee back to a theatre!
14. Untraceable – Describes the plotline and any fraction of believability or good acting in this film.
13. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day – Too bad I almost died for an hour or two watching this movie. I just wanted to scream at everyone on the screen: “I don’t care about any of you! You are boring me! Stop! Please! Stop! Give me my life back!”
12. Get Smart – If I had, I wouldn’t have paid full price for this crap.
11. RocknRolla – Further proof that Madonna has completely screwed up Guy Ritchie’s head. He’s still trying to make the same movie over and over again. And it keeps getting worse each time he releases it with a different title.
10. Leatherheads – Describes the people responsible for giving us this piece of doody.
9. Blindness – If only. And quite possibly the worst ending of a film all year. Like a typical SNL skit where the writers can’t come up with an ending.
8. The Spirit – My most disappointing experience all year. Wanted to love this one. Now, I only want to fight Frank Miller.
7. Valkyrie – aka “That Darn Hitler!” So anti-climatic, I just couldn’t get past it. We know what happens. We know Cruise is gonna fail. Hard to root for an idiot, idealistic as he may be.
6. The Reader – This movie is nominated for Best Picture of the Year. I think I want to throw myself in a tank with a poisonous jellyfish (wait, that’s another movie). Winslet takes her shirt off for 40 minutes and then mopes around for another hour and a half. Just dull, bleak, and uninteresting. Geez, I hated this film.
5. City of Ember – This sounded like such a cool concept for a movie. It tried really hard, but about halfway through, it just fell entirely apart. The movie should’ve stayed buried with the rest of the city.
4. Gran Torino – Four terrible things we learned from this film: 1. Racism is apparently funny. 2. There are zero Hmong people who can act. 3. Eastwood has apparently become a parody of himself. Yes, no one can pretend to make fun of being Eastwood, like he does himself… without meaning to. 4. No one can tell Eastwood: “Clint, we gotta fix that barbershop scene. This is a drama. Seriously. Oh, and Clint… don’t sing.”
3. Rambo – Okay, Sly, time to go to sleep. Nighty-night, big guy. You had a good run. Sh-sh. Just lie down. Give me the camera. Sh-sh-shhhhh….
2. Righteous Kill – Summing up where Pacino and DeNiro’s careers are heading for.
… and finally – thankfully – my NUMBER ONE WORST movie of 2008 is …
1. The Happening – There were times while I was watching this movie where I – TRULY – thought that I was being punk’d. There is NO WAY that Wahlberg could be acting that badly. There is NO WAY that M. Night could have written this trite and utterly ridiculous movie. When Marky Mark talks to a plastic plant, it could be the worst acting moment ever captured on film. Wow. This movie is completely ri-donk-ulous. There is no way to plan a movie this bad. Ouch.
There ya go.
Plenty of fodder to take aim with.
I welcome your thoughts, rebuttals and insights!!!