Review: Angels & Demons (dir. Ron Howard, 2009)

It may have been boring and heretical, but the film version of The Da Vinci Code was also one of the biggest international hits of all time when it came out three years ago — bigger than The Passion of The Christ, bigger than the Narnia movies, bigger even than at least one of the Star Wars movies. So it was pretty much inevitable that Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard would reunite for an adaptation of the other Dan Brown novel that features Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon. [Read more...]

Review: The Da Vinci Code (dir. Ron Howard, 2006)

My initial reaction to the film version of The Da Vinci Code was almost one of relief. The film was a dud, a complete bore, and most critics, secular and otherwise, seemed to think so, too. Perhaps, I thought, this movie would bring the whole phenomenon to an untimely end.

But in the days since, I have come to think that the film, in some ways, constitutes an even worse offence against the Church than the Dan Brown novel on which it was based.

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Review: The Da Vinci Code (dir. Ron Howard, 2006)

The makers of The Da Vinci Code have been saying for some time now that their film is not supposed to be taken all that seriously. It’s not history, and it’s not theology, director Ron Howard has said; instead, it’s just a rollicking good bit of entertainment. And leading man Tom Hanks has said it’s loaded “with all sorts of hooey and fun kind of scavenger-hunt-type nonsense,” calling the story “a lot of fun.”

If only they had taken their own advice. Dan Brown’s novel may be the product of extremely sloppy historical study, but even many of the book’s critics have admitted that it is a “page-turner,” an exciting yarn that carries the reader off on a semi-clever, fast-paced ride. The film, on the other hand, is a dull and plodding bore, and it takes itself far, far too seriously.

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From Temptation to the Code

In 1988, Christians picketed theaters that showed The Last Temptation of Christ. Today, they’re trying to find ways to “engage” a new controversial movie — The Da Vinci Code.

Two decades ago, Christians took a stand against Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ. When a draft of the script was made public, protestors compelled Paramount to abandon the project, and when Universal produced the movie a few years later, in 1988, Campus Crusade for Christ founder Bill Bright offered the studio some $10 million to buy the movie and destroy it. And then, when the film was released, Christians staged a number of boycotts and pickets outside theatres — a noisy tactic some believers now regret.

But today, churches are taking a different approach to controversial films, including The Da Vinci Code, Ron Howard’s film adaptation of the Dan Brown bestseller, which releases May 19. Pastors, scholars and teachers are writing books, preparing sermon series and Sunday school lessons, and creating websites devoted to “engaging” this pop-cultural artifact as part of an ongoing “dialogue.”

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Grappling with the Da Vinci juggernaut

“SEEK the truth.”

So say the posters for The Da Vinci Code. And so say many Christians who hope to make this movie a witnessing opportunity when it opens May 19 — despite its dismissal of the divinity of Jesus and its controversial claims about the marital status of Christ, the formation of the Bible and the church’s treatment of women.

In contrast to past controversies, such as the various efforts to suppress Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ in the 1980s, pastors and scholars have written books, prepared sermon series, and created websites devoted to “engaging” the movie and book versions of The Da Vinci Code as part of an ongoing “dialogue” with the larger culture.

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The Da Vinci Code article archive

I happened to read Dan Brown’s book in July 2004 on a three-day Greyhound trip back from the Cornerstone festival, and I posted some thoughts on it here.

General and related articles:

‘From Temptation to The Code,’ Christianity Today, May 2006
”Engaging’ Heresy,’ Christianity Today, May 2006
‘Grappling with the Da Vinci juggernaut,’ BC Christian News, May 2006
‘Christian groups gear up for release of Da Vinci Code,’ Georgia Straight, May 2006

Books and films:

Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code (book, dvd)
Reviews: Christianity Today, May 2006; BC Christian News, Jun 2006; ChristianWeek, Jun 2006; Mennonite Brethren Herald, Jun 2006

Dan Brown, Angels & Demons (book)
Review: Christianity Today, May 2009; CT Movie Discussion Guide, May 2009

Radio interviews:

Mornings with Scott & Lorri, FamilyNet Radio, May 2006
GodTalk, CJOB 68, May 2006
‘DaVinci, Angels and Demons,’ Nuclearity, May 2009

Related blog posts:

Trailer time!,’ May 2005
Newsbites: the Christian collusion edition,’ May 2005
The Spamalot Code,’ May 2005
Newsbites: Slump! war! embargo! etc.,’ Jun 2005
The Matrix redux — spoilers galore!,’ Jul 2005
Much ado about downplaying Da Vinci,’ Jul 2005
Newsbites: Karla! Da Vinci! Ratings!,’ Aug 2005
Da Vinci Code to open Cannes,’ Jan 2006
Is The Da Vinci Code a “Christian” book?,’ Feb 2006
Baehr on Da Vinci and Last Temptation,’ Mar 2006
Shocker: Mary Magdalene not a prostitute!,’ Mar 2006
Newsbites: Devil’s Miner! Gnomeo! Will! 9 to 5!,’ Mar 2006
Newsbites: Nativity! Potter! Terabithia!,’ Apr 2006
A pre-Da Vinci howler from Dan Brown,’ Apr 2006
Newsbites: Trailers! Tintin! Shazam!,’ Apr 2006
1 in 6 Canadians believe in The Da Vinci Code?,’ Apr 2006
Who’s protesting The Da Vinci Code?,’ Apr 2006
Newsbites special: Da Vinci! Muslims! etc.!,’ Apr 2006
Newsbites: Paradise! Da Vinci! Jesus Camp!,’ May 2006
The Da Vinci Code — the article’s up!,’ May 2006
Newsbites: Nothing but Da Vinci Code!,’ May 2006
Muslims get in on the Da Vinci Code action,’ May 2006
The Da Vinci Code — no critics allowed!,’ May 2006
Da Vinci Code press kit contradicts the novel,’ May 2006
The Da Vinci Code — another article’s up!,’ May 2006
The Da Vinci Code — the review’s up!,’ May 2006
The Da Vinci Code sets a new record,’ May 2006
Newsbites: another all-Da Vinci edition,’ May 2006
Chesterton, Frank Rich on The Da Vinci Code,’ May 2006
Here comes the Da Vinci prequel…,’ May 2006
Will Over the Hedge outgross Da Vinci?,’ May 2006
The Omen — the interview’s up!,’ May 2006
The Break-Up trumps X-Men 3!?,’ Jun 2006
Box office: Break-Up! Da Vinci! Truth!,’ Jun 2006
The Da Vinci Code outgrosses The Passion,’ Jun 2006
Superman movies give evangelists “authority”!?,’ Jun 2006
Box office: Cars! Omen! X-Men! Da Vinci!,’ Jun 2006
Newsbites: Anne Rice! Nativity! Compass!,’ Jun 2006
Finally, an end to the Da Vinci craze,’ Jul 2006
New TV comedy about a descendant of Jesus,’ Oct 2006
The Da Vinci Mermaid,’ Oct 2006
Newsbites: Da Vinci! Penguins! Becket!,’ Oct 2006
Da Vinci sequel sets paycheque record,’ Nov 2006
Newsbites: Prodigal! Dreamgirls! Compass!,’ Dec 2006
Narnia spoof features “wise-but-horny lion”,’ Dec 2006
LaHaye, Straczynski developing Bible movies,’ Dec 2006
“Can H’wood make friends with evangelicals?”,’ Jan 2007
Newsbites: Trek! Vinci! Water! HD VMD! Atlas!,’ Jan 2007
Newsbites: Winter! Howard! Jihadists! Opus!,’ Feb 2007
Newsbites: Rice! Reaping! Salomaybe! Samson!,’ Mar 2007
Let sleeping Da Vinci Codes lie, people…,’ Jun 2007
Tom Hanks is back for Angels & Demons,’ Oct 2007
Chris Weitz responds to the Atlantic Monthly,’ Nov 2007
Angels & Demons hit by writers’ strike,’ Nov 2007
Newsbites: Trek! Demons! Aquarian! Rowling!,’ Nov 2007
Newsbites: Hobbit! Demons! Superman! Expelled! Verhoeven! Racer! Stakeout! Silents!,’ Apr 2008