Adam’s Film Friday – A Review of The DaVinci Code

Hey all! Welcome back to another Adam’s Film Friday. I hope you have all been reading about Kim and Todd’s European vacation and have been in awe over the gorgeous pictures. This week’s movie is based on one of my favorite books, The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown. This movie was made in 2006 at what I would consider the height of the DaVinci Code hysteria, and it stars Tom Hanks as the genius symbologist Robert Langdon, who finds himself involved in an international conspiracy where he is a main suspect.

The movie starts off with a hooded man named Silas (Paul Bettany) chasing Jacques Sauniere, the curator of the famous Louvre Museum, through its Grand Gallery. Before Silas kills Sauniere, Sauniere admits that the keystone, an ancient artifact that Silas is searching for, is found “beneath the rose” at the Church of Saint Sulpice. Silas is a member of the Opus Dei, a super secret religious group whose aim is to protect the secrets of the Catholic church. Sauniere was a member of the Priory of Sion, a group that is charged to protect the location of the Holy Grail from those who have sought it for centuries. The Priory counts among its former members Leonardo DaVinci, Isaac Newton, and Victor Hugo. Now, both groups are at odds over the location of the Grail, with the Priory trying to keep it a secret while Opus Dei is determined to find it, no matter the cost. Robert Langdon enters this puzzle when he is asked by the French Chief of Police, Bezu Fache (Jean Reno), to come solve a cryptic puzzle in the Grand Gallery comprising of Sauniere’s body and his blood, which can only be seen under a black light. While he is there, Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tatou), a cryptologist who works for the French police, comes in stating that she has a message for Robert Langdon. The message instructs Langdon to call a phone number and enter a code. The message is actually Neveu’s voicemail telling Langdon he’s in danger and needs to run. It turned out that there was a part of a message, covered up before Langdon arrived, asking for Langdon to be found. The message was meant for Neveu, who is revealed to be Sauniere’s granddaughter. Langdon and Neveu are able to avoid capture, and set off to solve the mysteries left by Sauniere for both of them. Will they be able to escape the French police?  Will they be able to find Silas and find out what Opus Dei’s true intentions are with the Grail?

The movie, although nowhere near as good as the book, was highly entertaining and suspenseful. The casting was nearly perfect, with Tom Hanks becoming this Langdon character that I had read so much about and was fascinated by his story. Audrey Tatou was the perfect choice for Sophie because she walked the fine line between smart girl and adventurous sidekick. Hanks and Tatou played off of each other really well and had really good chemistry. The casting of all the characters are exactly how I imagined when reading the book and thought the way the story was told was really good.

One of my favorite aspects of the movie was its adaptation from book to screen.  Dan Brown wrote the book in such a vivid manner that the pictures he paints come automatically to your head.  These images were rendered and transferred to the screen as best as the adaptation could make them.  You’re probably surprised that I just said those last two sentences considering I said earlier that the book is better than the film.  The book had this certain spark and urgency to it as you were reading, that I think no matter who starred in the film or who directed it, it would still be an almost impossible feeling to recreate.

All and all I thought the DaVinci Code was a fun movie experience. If you want the full story, I would say check out the book and then see the movie: you won’t be disappointed. Between the direction of Ron Howard and the strong performances of Tom Hanks, Audrey Tatou, and Paul Bettany, this story really made a great translation from page to film.

4 out of 5 stars

The DaVinci Code (2006)
Columbia Pictures
PG-13, 149 Minutes
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My Top Ten…Villains (Part II)

As promised yesterday, here are my top five villains!!!

5.) Aunt Reed from Jane Eyre

Aunt Reed makes the list for being cruel and cold-hearted to young Jane Eyre.  For those unfamiliar with Jane Eyre, Jane is orphaned at a young age and is adopted by her Aunt and Uncle Reed.  Uncle Reed dies shortly after and makes Aunt Reed promise him that she will take care of Jane and raise her as one of their own children.   Once he’s dead she does the exact opposite, allowing her son to physically beat Jane, locking her in “haunted” rooms in their home, and eventually sending her off to a school that has horrible conditions.  Aunt Reed also makes sure Jane will live a meager life by telling a rich uncle of hers that she’s dead.  She’s a horrible woman made worse by the fact that kind-hearted Jane forgives her before her death for all her misgivings.  (I don’t think she deserved to be forgiven after everything that happened, but it just goes to show you how kind a person Jane truly was).

(You can find my review here)

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4.) President Snow from The Hunger Games Series

President Snow is the leader of the Capitol and ruler of Panem in The Hunger Games series.  We get to see what a truly horrible man he is in Catching Fire and Mockingjay as his interaction with Katniss grows.  You come to learn that Snow is a truly evil person, poisoning those that got in his way during his rise to political glory.  He tricks Katniss and the rest of the districts into believing that District 13 was destroyed and that they need to continue the hunger games as punishment.  He is a master at deception and is always playing a game with the people around him, using them as pawns.  He gets what he deserves in the end, but it still doesn’t make up for all that he’s done during his ruling years.   

(You can find my reviews for here for Book One, Two, and Three)

3.) Silas – The DaVinci Code

Ah, religious fanaticism.  A member of the Catholic organization known as Opus Dei, Silas is an albino who practices corporal mortification (flogging one’s self) while repenting for one’s sins.  Depicted in Dan Brown’s The Davinci Code, Silas is driven by a desire to atone for his past and discover the secrets protected by the Priory of Scion.  Driven to live on the streets after murdering his father (who had murdered his mother out of shame for having an albino child), Silas is given a second chance at life after an earthquake frees him from prison.  Driven to devout religious belief, Silas is especially villanous because of the rhetoric he believes in.  He justifies his murders and attacks by believing that it is the will of Opus Dei for him to commit these atrocities.  His blind faith in this organization makes him especially dangerous in the novel, and he is a constant threat to Robert Langdon, the protagonist.  All in all, Silas has nothing to lose as he is fully indoctrinated to commit evil acts and will stop at nothing to please those who are superior to him in Opus Dei.

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2.) Mr. Burroughs – A Wolf at the Table

Augusten Burroughs is famous for writing heartbreakingly honest memoirs.  A Wolf at the Table mainly focused on his childhood and the relationship he had with his father.  Mr. Burroughs is the only actual “person” on my list, and for good reason.  The man was an alcoholic, beat his animals, and definitely partook in abusing his sons.  Augusten had a dog that would physically sleep on top of him to protect him from Mr. Burroughs while he slept at night.  His older brother John taught him how to shoot a gun just in case he needed it one day.  After reading this book it made me see how truly malicious some people can be in the world.  Mr. Burroughs shot straight to nearly the top of my list of villains because he preyed on his young sons and helpless wife.  To be that type of man you have to be truly evil.

(You can find my review here)

1.) Voldemort – The Harry Potter Series

While the rest of the characters on this list have aspirations to conquer those around them and bring evil into their lives, none have grander plans than Voldemort.  Not content to just conquer the magical world around him, Voldemort set his sights higher, aiming to control the human (aka Muggle) world as well.  In hiding for years after a failed attack on Harry Potter that left him on the cusp of death, he slowly rebuilds his strength until he makes a triumphant return and power grab to control the ruling body of the magical world.  As if this wasn’t enough, consider his name.  Anyone who is referred to as “He Who Must Not Be Named” because he/she is so evil that their name can’t be spoken must be #1 in my book.  All in all, Voldemort deserves the top spot in this top ten countdown because of the encompassing nature of his power and ambition.  He won’t let anything, including death, get in his way to kill Harry Potter and rule all.  Now that’s villanous!

Well my fellow readers, who makes your list?  Leave your comments below.

Until next time, happy reading!!

My Top Ten….Books I Wish I Was A Character From (Part II)

As promised in yesterday’s post, here are my top five books I wish I was a character from!!

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5.) Robert Langdon – The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown

Robert Langdon has to be one of the most brilliant characters ever created.  The amount of knowledge the man has is insane.  The best part about him is that he is completely normal!  He swims every morning, is a teacher, and lectures amongst other things.  His knowledge of symbols and their deeper meanings are astounding.  His abilities to put together puzzle after puzzle is admirable.  Of all the books that Dan Brown has written with Langdon as a character, Da Vinci Code is the one I chose to want to be from.  I’d love to be taken all through Europe on a quest for the holy grail.  Being a puzzle lover myself, I can only imagine what it would be like to get to take a crack at the codes that he gets to solve.  How cool would that be?

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4.) Elizabeth Bennet – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

With Pride and Prejudice being my all time favorite book is it really that shocking that I’d want to be Elizabeth Bennet??  Elizabeth is a woman after my own heart. She’s witty, passionate, fiercely loyal to those around her and isn’t afraid to speak her mind.  She is a bit of a modern woman stuck in old times.  Now, the real reason I want to be her?  Mr. Darcy of course!!! Is there any woman who has read Pride and Prejudice and NOT fallen in love with Mr. Darcy??  Mr. Darcy sees Elizabeth for who she really is and falls in love with her.  He sees that she’s not a cookie cutter woman who throws herself at a man simply so that she can have a house and income to survive on.  She turns down two marriage proposals, wanting to rather be penniless than to marry for anything but the strongest of true loves.  She gets just that in the end, and it’s for that reason I’d love to be her. 

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3.) Percy Jackson – The Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson has quite an interesting family tree.  On a school trip to a museum he finds that not only is he the son of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, but that he is under attack by evil forces which wish to destroy him and all the other children of Greek gods and goddesses.  Apart from the whole defending your life portion of being Percy Jackson, it would be incredibly awesome to wield his powers.  The ability to control water as if it was a living object under your command is incredible, and Percy finds that his powers don’t stop there.  He has a natural ability to lead and defend his friends, and he becomes a great warrior.  Who wouldn’t want to be this guy?  Additional perks would include having a bunch of other Greek god and goddess children as friends and spending Christmas with uncle Zeus.  Not too shabby, huh?

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2.) Charlie – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

I challenge you to find a child that grew up in America that does not know the story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  From Gobstoppers to Three-Course dinner chewing gum, Dahl created a world of crazy candies and impossible sights and sounds.  Being Charlie would be like being a kid in a candy store, literally.  Imagine turning into a blueberry or being shrunken down to miniature size, driving a rootbeer-powered car, flying because of fizzy drink, or being able to lick wallpaper that tastes like candy.  These are all things Charlie got to see and do in the pages of one of my favorite children’s books.  The chocolate river, the oompa loompas, the candy that grows on trees: these are all things that I wish could be real.  Being Charlie, just even for a day, would allow me to indulge in that childhood dream, and would allow me to forget all my worries and cares.

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1.) Harry Potter – The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

Magic?  Check.  Flying?  Check.  Witches and wizards?  Check.  A hidden world of adventure, danger, and unbelievable sights and sounds that can’t be explained?  Of course.  This is the world of a wizard known as Harry Potter.  Ever since I’ve read the first novel in the series, I’ve had a serious itching to play Quidditch.  I would also love to be able to change an inanimate object into an animal, and to send letters via my owl.  As Harry Potter, I would have the ability to do all of this and more.  Often people dream of magical worlds, but the world that Rowling creates is beyond anything I could imagine.  I honestly would love to be able to go to Hogwarts and get lost in the magical world.  It seems so honest and removed from the stress and trials of ordinary life.  To escape to this world would be the ultimate experience, and out of all the books that I wish I was a character from, this is my top one!

Well readers, what books do you want to jump in the pages of?  Why?  Do you agree with my choices? Disagree?  Let me know in the comments section below!

Todd’s Review of The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

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Dan Brown is back with his third installment of the Robert Langdon series with The Lost Symbol.  With Mr. Langdon, a Harvard professor of symbology, Brown delves into the world of Freemasonry in this novel.  The previous two books in the series, Angels and Demons and The DaVinci Code dealt with the Iluminati and the Templar Knights.  Brown has certainly made a name for himself in the literary world introducing the practices of these secret organizations to the public as well as demystifying their true purposes and roles in society.

Robert Langdon is invited to give a lecture at the United States Capitol by his friend and Freemason Peter Solomon.  Solomon is an influential Mason, having obtained the highest position in the Freemasons: the 33rd degree.  When Langdon arrives at the Capitol, he realizes there is no lecture, and finds something much more sinister: the severed hand of Mr. Solomon pointing up at the ceiling of the Capitol.  Langdon is contacted by a man who calls himself Mal’akh, stating that he was the one that originally asked Langdon to give his lecture, not Peter.  He also reveals that he was the one who placed Mr. Solomon’s hand in the Capitol.  He gives Langdon a dire agenda: find and decipher the secret pyramid of the Freemasons or Mr. Solomon dies.  As if this wasn’t taxing enough, Langdon’s day becomes even more complicated, as he becomes an unwilling participant in the CIA’s attempt to intervene in the matter.  CIA director Inoue Sato becomes increasingly impatient as Langdon hides clues from the CIA in order to protect Peter, and begins to suspect Langdon of foul play.  Enter Katherine Solomon, Peter’s sister and Langdon’s partner in his attempt to save Peter’s life.  She studies Noetic science, the science of thought and senses.  She conducts invaluable work that proves that thought has physical mass and can impact other objects.  Obviously, her research has huge implications in the way in which humankind views religion, prayer, thought, and many other things.  Not only has Peter been caught in Mal’akh’s web, but Katherine almost loses her life in Mal’akh’s attempt to destroy all of her work.  Langdon must save her, as well as try to discover Mal’akh’s true motive for attacking Peter and his family.  Will Robert and Katherine discover the secret of the pyramid in time to save Peter and stop Mal’akh?  Will Langdon be able to evade the CIA long enough to bring Mal’akh to justice?

I will admit that at first I was not a fan of this book.  Having read DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons, I was quite familiar with the plot outline of the Robert Langdon series of novels.  The structure seemed too similar to just be written off as overarching themes between all of the books.  It was as if I was re-reading the other novels; the path which Langdon was traveling felt too familiar to me.  The book began with a single element of a code, then unfolded with Langdon being wanted by the authorities, leading to his partnering with an attractive female counterpart, etc.  It was a bit typecast to put it bluntly.  However, just as I thought I was going to really lose interest, I finally became hooked in the last few climactic chapters of the book.  The ending definitely does not disappoint.  I can’t really even provide any clues to what happens, but rest assured that it will keep you enthralled though the end.

Definitely worth noting is Brown’s fantastic ability to pack a ton of history and symbology into his works.  I always feel like I’ve taken a history and symbology course after reading his books, and this one was no different.  Brown is an expert into weaving academic concepts into the action of his novels, and the mind games he plays with the symbols that Langdon must crack are always very entertaining.  Overall, although I felt the plot dragged and was at least somewhat predictable considering Brown’s past works, The Lost Symbol was a solid read that kept me entertained and satisfied in the end.  For anyone who is a fan of Brown or just wants to  read a fun, engaging crime drama, pick up a copy today.

3 out of 5 stars

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group (2009)
Hardcover 528 pages
ISBN: 9780385504225