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The Da Vinci Code (2006)
Disappointing! Where's the thrill in this thriller?
I have to admit that I am very disappointed. This film is supposed to be a thriller, right? But where's the thrill? I was expecting to be entertained and to be in the situation of the characters themselves. The critics are right. The movie is boring. Of course, the first viewing will be fine. But if viewed multiple times, this film is likely to bore anyone to death.
I've read the novel from which it was based and I can say that if this film was viewed by a non-reader, they will be lost and confused. I have a feeling that most of the people (apparently non-readers) in the theater I was in didn't understand the movie well. They just come in to check out about the film and satisfy their curiosity.
There are several reasons why I really want to see this. 1) To see how they present the key scenes 2) To see the locations! 3) To compare my own vision of the film vs the director's vision (just like any other movie adaptations) 4) To see Ian McKellen on the big screen for the first time since The Return of the King... 5) To see how they handle the mystery of the Holy Grail or whether they will stick to Dan Brown's theories or not.
As you may notice, I'm not after the film's faithfulness to the source. I actually didn't mind it now after I got used on LOTR and Harry Potter were adapted. HP2 is very faithful to the book that it takes away the excitement from the viewers. They never let the viewers engage in breaking the codes. Many fans hate HP4 because it deviates from the book but I say, it is the best movie in the Harry Potter franchise (as well as HP3). In DVC, it's like I'm watching just to see how things will go, there's a little element of surprise. I want to see more. The movie is too long. It would be better if they removed the "Robert the claustrophobic" subplot in the movie.
This film is TOO faithful to the book. Even the lines are lifted from the book word per word and it's a good thing. They edited the film in such a way that it follows every chapter breaks in the book. Unfortunately, it doesn't translate well onto the screen. I wish the screenwriters add something more to make this movie more exciting. At one point, they even showed a flashback on how the Langdon and Neveu escaped from the plane (just like in the book). But in the film, the scene is out of place. I have to say that being too faithful to the source material is not always a good thing. If I am to blame someone, that would be the author Dan Brown. Yes, his book made many non book-readers to pick up a novel and read (including me). But when I re-read the novel, the flaws are evident. It becomes too shallow. And because of that, the movie suffers.
One of the key elements in this movie focuses on a "secret that if revealed, would devastate the very foundations of Christianity" Given the prerelease controversy surrounding the novel and the book, the secret the movie is talking about is already revealed to everyone that it isn't a spoiler anymore. For non-readers, the only thing that they have to figure out is the identity of the Teacher and a thing about Sophie.
As for the actors, Tom Hanks is obviously miscast. BTW, I liked the way how Langdon think visually. The planets, anagrams etc. Langdon here is not the same as on the book because the Langdon here is doubtful. He even engage in a debate with Teabing. Audrey Tatou (Sophie) is very pretty. I've seen her in Amelie and she was amazing. Jean Reno (Fache) is the kind of actor who's always in a Hollywood movie in need of a French actor. I think he is the most sought-after French actors today. Paul Bettany is very creepy as Silas. Too bad he wasn't given enough screen time. I was surprised to see Silas naked because he was wearing something in the trailer. In the movie, he's totally nude and I pity him for his "corporal mortification" thing. Ian McKellen (Teabing) delivers a great performance once again. It's in the way he speaks, wit, humor and eyes that make him a lovable character whatever role he is playing. He gives credibility on even the most crappiest line. Many people are surprised to know that Ian McKellen is gay. Someone in an internet forum said that he is the most straight-looking gay actor.
There are several scenes that I don't like very much. There are few action sequences in the film but many of them were poorly done. One of them is the SmartCar scene. It's not handled well. The camera is shaky that you can't understand what's happening. Most of the movie is talking scenes (just like the book). The theories are presented in a nice way through flashbacks. These flashbacks are nice. They could create a separate movie through them.
I don't think anyone will have their faith shattered just by viewing this...especially Filipinos. And I don't think that the movie is blasphemous. Maybe I got used to it. That was my first reaction before reading the book. But once I read the prologue, I never stopped reading.
The Da Vinci Code is not actually an excellent book but it is good page-turner. The movie adapts the book too faithfully that the real essence of adventure and thrill is lost. If you want to be entertained, go and watch National Treasure. It's a better movie. Dan Brown's novel succeeds because of its controversial premise. But I have to say National Treasure is a better thriller.
King Kong (2005)
Director Peter Jackson, once again, gave us a movie that we can now consider an epic. After Lord of the Rings trilogy, he brought us King Kong.
The movie is a bit long. 3 hours! It could have been shorter. But when the action starts to kick in, it become more and more exciting. I'm not saying that the first 45 minutes without Kong is boring. It's not. This part is essential to the story, of course. There are funny moments in here, by the way. This movie was supposed to be made in 1997, before LOTR. Luckily, it was done after LOTR. I heard that the 1997 script was awful.
When the Venture crew arrives at Skull Island, the movie intensifies. Strange and HUGE creatures are here and there. The characters always get themselves in the most unlikely places. But sometimes, the way they escape the brontosaurus stampede is unbelievable. It's almost impossible to believe that they actually get out of that alive, Nevermind.
As for the effects, they're not perfect of course. But they were superb. Kong looks photorealistic during close ups and is able to convey the right emotions thanks to Andy Serkis (who plays Gollum and Lumpy the Cook in this movie). The furs on Kong's arm are perfect. The recreation of 1933 New York is truly accurate despite the fact that this movie was shot entirely in New Zealand. However, there are some CG's that are not as good as the others and that distracts me from the movie sometimes. Some green screen work seems like unfinished. I know it could have been better if they had more time during post-production. I hope they tune it up for the DVD. Overall, it's a special effects extravaganza. The T-Rex scene is arguably the best action sequence of the year. Definitely a must-see. 100% "repeatability" factor. The Skull Island part alone is worth the ticket price.
One of the best aspects of the movie is the relationship between Ann and Kong. Just seeing Kong watching the sunset is heartbreaking. This ape is not just a wild animal. Naomi Watts nailed her role. She gave an amazing performance of a black-and-white movie actress. I actually take Jack Black seriously now. Adrien Brody's nose is more distracting than some bad CGIs. Of all these actors, Andy Serkis and the people from WETA Digital has the best performance for creating King Kong. As for the cameos, I didn't notice Peter Jackson as one of the pilots in the plane. But Howard Shore was there. He was the original music composer of the film but later replaced by James Newton Howard. Too bad, Shore abandoned the project. I really adore his work in Lord of the Rings. Speaking of music, I actually love the score. I actually remember one particular cue as I left the theater. I should have the soundtrack soon. In fact, the score was nominated for a Golden Globe (as well as Best Director for PJ).
The movie was well-received by the audience. Every time audiences reacts to what they see on screen (perhaps over the creatures), I felt being proud for this movie as if I'm the one who made it. I don't know why. Maybe I'm just proud for PJ because he successfully make that kind of reaction from the audience.
To sum it up, the movie lives up to its hype. Just don't expect too much and you're in for the adventure. There's a lesson that I learned this time and that is never watch a preview or download a clip from the movie that shows a major action sequence...This is exactly what happened to me. I can't relate to audience because I've already seen parts of it in TV and the Net. It's like, I'm just there to see how all those scenes connect and how it all ends because they obviously don't show the whole scene in TV or the internet.
Peter Jackson and his crew, the same people (and country) behind Lord of the Rings has captivated me once again. I'll definitely see their next movie. It's a drama with no more grand special effects. It's called The Lovely Bones (based from the novel from Alice Sebold). I'm gonna support PJ's future works! But right now, let's give PJ and crew a rest. They really deserve it, RATING: 9/10
"Goblet" meets my expectations...
I'm glad to say that I'm not disappointed in this one. HP1 was okay. I haven't read the book when I saw it. HP2 was awful. It's the worst Potter film for me. And honestly, I was slightly disappointed in the first viewing of HP3. But then, the more I watch it (on DVD), the more I realize that the third Potter movie was the best of the three. In terms of storytelling and character development, Azkaban is far better than the first two. The Harry-Flying-With-Buckbeak scene is one of the best scenes IMHO. It is emotional and the music is great. Now comes the fourth in the series, The Goblet of Fire.
Judging by the trailer alone, I know this movie is gonna be great. The new movie condensed the 700-page book into an almost 3-hour movie. That means a lot has been left out. I've already expected it so the changes are no big deal for me and I think the movie will survive even without Rita Skeeter.
=MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD= So, here are the things I like:
Pacing. Well-paced but not uses Cuaron's scene transitions in Azkaban; Music. The great John Williams theme is still here (most notably Hedwig's Theme or the opening theme of every HP movie). The new composer Patrick Doyle added a nice new touch in the film's music and makes the film darker. However, there's a part in the Yule Ball where the music is distracting. Imagine, a rock band in Hogwarts? It feels like it's from another movie; Amazing visuals. The arrival of the schools and the 2nd task was almost dream-like. Beautifully done. Tone. It's darker and more mature; Special effects. The CGI was great except for some few crappy CGIs like the landing of Diggory's onto the ground after touching the Portkey, morphing of Krum into a shark. The dance number of Durmstrang...something to do with the sticks; Fleur...Hermione...Cho Chang...Ginny...and...Madame Maxine (haha..joke). Fleur is beautiful!; Dumbledore. I like Michael Gambon than the late Richard Harris as Dumbledore. Imagine Harris giving the tournament speeches. I can't take it! Young Dumbledore looks like Gandalf the Grey! ; Relationships between the trio; Moody. Great performance; Voldemort. Great job by Ralph Fiennes. His strong performance can still be seen even with make-up!; Acting. Improved acting from Daniel(!) I was almost carried away...two thumbs up for that heartfelt mourning for (see next point..); HIS death. It happened so fast that it was so shocking. I didn't expect that I was gonna cry at that part even though I know he will die. It was so depressing. I left the theater so sad because 1) HE died, 2) the anticipation for the movie is over and 3) the next movie will be out in June 2007. =MINOR SPOILERS END=
Some audience may find it sexist because Fleur was portrayed as if she was incapable of joining the Tournament.
Overall, this is the best Potter movie yet. Expectations are getting higher. Newell delivers a strong film. Definitely my new favorite!