Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Movie Critics and book-based Movies...

[Saturday, May 16, 2009]

What can we trust in the reviews of movies by the critics? I don't think that they are necessarily on the same wavelength as many of us. I often find that movies that I love have received poor ratings from these critics and movies that they rate highly are ones that I just don't care to see! This seems to apply especially to movies based upon screen play adaptations of popular novels like The DaVinci Code and Angels & Demons by Dan Brown. Both of these movies are fast-moving, action-filled adventures that operate on tight timelines and detailed twists of plot. The screenwriters in both cases have done a remarkable job of adapting them from book to screen.◊

These two movies were made into movies in reverse order from that which they are published. They both feature the same lead character, Professor Robert Langdon (played by Tom Hanks); they were not originally written as either prequels or sequels, they were just two books that featured the same lead character. The adapted screenplays did a good job of creating a sequel of A&D from the DVC in such a way as not interrupt the story line. After seeing the movie, I read the review in yesterday's LA Times by Betsy Sharkey (Review: 'Angels & Demons' ) where she was extremely critical of the movie. Much of what she had to say would seem to be more related to understanding the action and characters amongst the audience unfamiliar with the movie version of the DVC or by reading of the books. I cannot really fully understand her criticism since I have watched the movie at least a dozen times and have read both books 4-6 times each. What is her 'gripe"?◊

She makes a big deal of Tom Hanks' hair, the compressed timeline of the movie (24 hours) and the quick subplot changes. I would like to hear from those of you who have not read the books or seen the DVC on your reactions; I can't place myself in that context. I found the movie easy to follow and it kept pretty much to the plot of the book. Minor changes were necessitated by the length of the movie. It is NOT a Kevin Costner marathon! The movie did portray the well developed characters found in the book and was a very entertaining experience.◊

In both of the movie adaptations of Dan Brown's books features a strong woman lead to support Tom Hanks' character. In A&Ds, the scientist Vittoria Vetra (played by Israeli actress, Ayelet Zyrer) played her role well and enhanced the movie by being very believable. She demonstrated great skill and contributed important insights into the plot's development, as found in the book. A similar role was played by Audrey Tautou in the DVC. The other supporting actors, especially Ewan McGregor, as the Camerlengo Patrick McKenna, was superb. Ron Howard's directorial efforts were again fantastic to create this believable adaptation of the story.◊

The critic seems to question the structural elements of the Catholic Church, the past relations with the Illuminati, and the conflict of science and theology. in general, these are integral story components. To criticize these is to criticize the book and should not be applied to the movie in my opinion. So what do critics want? Do they want movies that make one feel good at the expense of looking at problems in society? Do they want movies that use book titles as a 'jumping off' place? or what? [Let me know your thoughts on this!]

I think there is a place for movies that stick to the plot of the book. What would Chronicles of Narnia or The Lord of the Rings be like if they did not substantially follow the flow of the book.◊

Angels and Demons...

[Friday, May 15, 2009]

We just got back from seeing the movie version of Angels & Demons, Directed by Ron Howard. It was extremely well-done and was fairly faithful to the story line in the book, although some liberties were taken, as might be expected. Tom Hanks was very good again as Robert Langdon, Ayelet Zurer as Vittoria Vetra. and Ewan McGregor as the 'bad guy' priest.◊

This was action-packed and moved smoothly from the intro to the ending.
Some aspects of the story line were adapted to make the movie flow better with less tangential stories to confuse those who have not read the book. I was totally absorbed in the action and could not think of anything else for the two hours and twenty minutes the movie ran. I want to see it again in a few days to check out some sequences that I apparently didn't observe closely enough. While this book was, in fact, a prequel to The DaVinci Code, the movie included a nice set of references to position it as a sequel to that block-buster movie. Nice job of screen writing!◊

I would encourage you to consider seeing this movie. Some critics have rated it as so-so, but I think that they are wrong. It neither bashes the Catholic Church or praises it, but treats its traditions as one of the actors in the movie.◊