The highly anticipated and controversial film version of The Da Vinci Code had its worldwide premiere at the Cannes Film Festival last night...And while Variety's Nicole LaPorte covers all of the hype... Those critics who attended the screening in the South of France, have overwhelmingly panned the film.
For example, here's how the review by Variety's Todd McCarthy begins:
A pulpy page-turner in its original incarnation as a huge international bestseller has become a stodgy, grim thing in its exceedingly literal-minded film version.
Tackling head-on novelist Dan Brown's controversythy-stirring thriller hinging on a subversively revisionist view of Jesus Christ's life, director Ron Howard and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman have conspired to drain any sense of fun out of the melodrama, leaving expectant audiences with an oppressively talky film that isn't exactly dull but comes as close to it as one could imagine with such provocative material; result is perhaps the best thing the project's critics could have hoped for.
The fun doesn't stop there. McCarthy further writes:
Sitting through all the verbose explanations and speculations about symbols, codes, secret cults, religious history and covert messages in art, it is impossible to believe that, had the novel never existed, such a script would ever have been considered by a Hollywood studio. It's esoteric, heady stuff, made compelling only by the fact that what it's proposing undermines the fundamental tenets of Christianity, especially Roman Catholicism, and, by extension, Western Civilization for the past 2,000 years.
The irony in the film's inadequacy is that the novel was widely found to be so cinematic. Although pretty dismal as prose, the tome fairly rips along, courtesy of a strong story hook, very short chapters that seem like movie scenes, constant movement by the principal characters in a series of conveyances, periodic eruptions of violent action and a compressed 24-hour time frame.
And if that weren't bad enough, the AP's movie writer David Germain writes:
"The Da Vinci Code" drew lukewarm praise, shrugs of indifference, some jeering laughter and a few derisive jabs Tuesday from arguably the world's toughest movie crowd: critics at [the festival]...
The Cannes audience clearly grew restless as the movie dragged on to two and a half hours and spun a long sequence of anticlimactic revelations.
"I kept thinking of the Energizer Bunny, because it kept going and going and going, and not in a good way," said James Rocchi, a film critic for CBS 5 television in San Francisco and the online outlet Cinematical. "Ron Howard makes handsome films. He doesn't make bad ones, but he doesn't make great ones."
One especially melodramatic line uttered by [star Tom] Hanks drew prolonged laughter and some catcalls, and the audience continued to titter for much of the film's remainder.
Some people walked out during the movie's closing minutes, though there were fewer departures than many Cannes movies provoke among harsh critics. When the credits rolled, there were a few whistles and hisses, and there was none of the scattered applause even bad movies sometimes receive at Cannes...
Read more about the event here...and here.
What effect this overseas drubbing will have on the U.S. box office for DaVinci's first weekend is unclear. What I do know is, the movie studios in Hollywood, that were hoping for a box office bounce in 'o6 over last year, are now sweating bullets big time.