Monday, May 22, 2006

Da Vinci Code: Big Enough Opening? (BigCityLib Talks Movies)

According to Box Office Mojo, The Da Vinci Code took in $77 million over the weekend, or the 13th best domestic opening ever recorded. After the studio driven news of the next couple of days, I think you will see stocks in Sony fall, and talk start up of financial disappointment in the movie and this year's box office in general. After all, pre-release predictions were on the order of a domestic gross of $125 million, and even with the foreign numbers thrown in the mix, The Code didn't quite match Star Wars III (according to these guys), which it was expected to best easily. Given the reviews, I imagine next weekend the financial picture will look even worse.

Not that any of this matters squat to me. I haven't read the book and don't intend to see the movie. In fact I think last year the wife and I saw one movie, Wedding Crashers, and in 2006 the only flick I'd be willing to go to a cineplex to watch is X-Men III: The Last Stand. And I think I'm a pretty typical movie-goer, and as such an emblem of what's ailing the entertainment industry.

For one thing, when you can buy a used DVD at a second-hand place across the road for $8, why not just wait a couple of months? You can sit in your living room with no pants on, drink beer, stop the film when you need to take a leak, replay all the explosions eight or nine times, and if you've got one of those mondo 57 inch tv screens (which I don't, unfortunately, because the wife wouldn't let me buy one, but let that pass), it looks pretty much the same as in the theatre anyway.

And not only that, I've made a philosophical decision to the effect that I don't really want be part of the "cultural discussion" of The Da Vinci Code or King Kong or whatever. For that same reason, I haven't seen nor read The Harry Potter Series (though I probably will read the books when Rowlands has finished her last and faded from the news a bit). Its only when the hype has died that you can really judge the true worth of a book or a film--judge it in the plain light of day, in other words.

For example, I can tell you that, after having waited and bought my $8 used copy of Tom Cruise' War of the Worlds, it is a royally shitty movie. The whole "family values" aspect of it, how Tom becomes a good Dad when faced with adversity, nearly made me puke, and by the time the Martians arrived, I was cheering for them to kill as many Earthlings as possible.

In terms of Carnage, the movie probably rated a good 8. The Martians fried up a goodly number of Earthlings, and they also came up from under water and tipped a ferry full of Earthlings into the ocean, after which they grabbed a bunch by the legs and ate 'em right there on camera. There are a few other good scenes of a similar ilk, but they don't make up for the slow bits, and even on first viewing I was riding the fast-forward button. Apparently, about two-thirds of the way through Tim Robbins appears and does some serious "acting". I hung in for about the first minute and a half of that, then fast-forwarded to where Tom blows up some Martians with a hand-grenade.

There's absolutely no sex in the movie, and really not much in the way of foul language, so it could never be a ten. But I'm not sure I would even give it a 5, except for the carnage which gets an 8, as I mentioned previously.

And I'm getting the same disappointed feeling from a lot of the big-budget actioners these days. I love to see stuff blow up as much as the next Canadian, but its as though they haven't found anything new to blow up, or at least new ways to blow up the same old stuff all over again. Even the first Transporter didn't show me anything I hadn't seen before, and don't get me started on Brotherhood of The Wolf . Like, where did Mohawks from three hundred years ago learn Kung Fu?

So I am forced to retreat into Literature, where, I am happy to say, you can find a much better treatment of the War of the Worlds story in volume II of Alan Moore's graphic novel The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. This does have a few sex scenes, tons of violence, alot of foul language, and some cannibalism.

Or, if not Literature, at least into the world of Indie film. For example, Serenity, based on the short-lived "cowboys-in-space" tv series of the same name, was quite enjoyable, although the special effects weren't much above an episode of (the old) BattleStar Galactica. And probably my favorite movie of the last few years, American Splendor, first appeared on HBO. It tells the story of comic book artist Harvey Pekar, played by Paul (squid-face) Giamatti, the guy who should have got an oscar nomination for Sideways (which is also an excellent movie, and cost me $8 used at Block-Buster). American Splendor is hilarious. It has some foul language, but no sex except a few flashes of tit in some of the comic book stories that are worked into the movie. There's no violence, either, but nevertheless it qualifies as a classic (a bit like the first Matrix, where there was no sex or foul language, but two different kinds of violence--guns and kung fu--put it up over the top).


H.A.Page said...

I don't know if I'll see the movie but Rosslyn Chapel is pretty amazing and an example of storytelling in old medium. I posted on it today at MotherPie.

Anonymous said...

"You can sit in your living room with no pants on, drink beer, stop the film when you need to take a leak, "

so . you are a closet Conservative Red Neck Wannbe :)

Anonymous said...

Let's see, the lead actor is a Harvard academic, just like iggy; most of the action takes place in France, a good socialist country; the central thesis posits that the RC Church has covered up the true history of Christianity to preserve its patriarchal hegemony. Sounds like a story any liberal could love.