Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Dan Brown and The Da Vinci Code

Last night I finally broke down and went to see The Da Vinci Code, Ron Howard's adaptation of Dan Brown's novel. I had wanted to see it earlier, but I was hesitant. Generally no-so-good reviews, usually pointing out a horrendously boring ending, and a semi-quiet word-of-mouth just somehow didn't do much to encourage me to go.

But, I went... and, almost surprisingly, I enjoyed it. Is this a positive review? No, not really, but it's not a negative one, either. To be honest, I absolutely hated the film until the appearance of Ian McKellen, at which point, the film became thoroughly enjoyable... if completely predictable.

And this predictability is what I'm going to be complaining about today. You see, I have not read the novel by Dan Brown, but I have read his first book, Angels & Demons and I know one thing for sure... this guy is NOT a good writer. Don't get me wrong... as far as plot, premise, and general research, the man is an enigma. Fantastically interesting. But when it comes to character, dialogue, and just general suspense... well, let me just YAWN a few times and save a paragraph explaining it. His overall writing is so elementary (scratch that, it's downright juvenile), that from just watching the movie one can tell that that Dan Brown wrote the book it's based on. What's ironic is that the dude used to be an English professor, so you'd think he'd be a little, I don't know, "better." So how did this guy get so fucking popular?

I know what you're thinking right now... that I'm some sort of literary "snob." Let me assure you that I am not. I enjoy my Clancy and Crichton, my King and Koontz, and I read a ton of comic books. Despite the fact that I enjoy the occassional classic, a snob, I am not.

My main criticism of Mr. Brown is his blatant overuse of "cliffhanger/reveal." In damn near every chapter of Angels & Demons, someone notices something or something happens that is "cause for alarm" (i.e. a jaw drops, someone gasps, a strange object is found, blah blah blah). But instead of just explaining it, Mr. Brown decides to "cliffhang" now and, two or three chapters later, "reveal" in some bogus manner. Seriously, that works once or twice, but not every three pages. An accomplished writer would find a way to create suspense AND reveal on the same page. The aforementioned Stephen King was once a master of such a technique. Unfortunately, Dan Brown's cheap literary parlor trick is so predomninant in his books, it broke through in Ron Howard's film, resulting in a film frustratingly predictable.

As far as the long, horrendous ending? I actually thought that it felt rather natural in the film, even though I do agree that it was a bit long. The film might have been helped by a shorter ending and a more-developed introduction. However, anyone who's ever read Dan Brown knows that bad endings have little to do with the filmmakers and almost everthing to do with the author. The man simply doesn't know how to finish a story (which may not altogether be a bad thing... like I said, his plots are amazing).

Well, I guess I answered my own question. Dan Brown's popularity must stem from his plots... because his writing sure isn't good enough to attract fans that are old enough to drink.

All that being said, I'll still go see an Angels & Demons film should one ever get made.

1 comment:

Ravyn said...

So, did you see it? (I probably should read the rest of your stuff before I ask, since you may have answered already)...

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