As the Blues Brothers once learned, the Lord works in mysterious ways. But who would have thought that those mysterious ways involved sassy, singing ladies of a Southern black choir? Probably Jake, actually. He had some foresight. In todayâ€™s Smack, we hear the two veteran voices of Queen Latifah and Whoopi Goldberg, along with their choirs, going toe to toeâ€¦ or rather, chord to chord. We have the new, gospel musical, Joyful Noise, taking on everyoneâ€™s favorite singing nun (suck it, Sound of Music!) in Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. […]
The Catholic Church is beset with problems in these two films based on the best-selling novels by Dan Brown. On one side, a secret order threatening to uncover the greatest secret in the history of the world, and render the Church obsolete. On the other, another secret (and long thought extinct) brotherhood threatening to blow up Vatican City. Yep, somebody has it bad for the Pope, and it’s up to an American University lecturer to save the day. So settle back, say a few Hail Marys, and prepare to enter the world of Robert Langdon, the world’s smartest symbologist.
Both films serve up clues in much the same way those police procedural shows unpeel that onion on TV: One piece exposing another and another. This imposes a certain predictability to the storytelling structure, if not the outcome.
That convention doesn’t help “The Da Vinci Code” very much, although it tries very hard. The story plunges into arcane church history, obscure alliances, shady characters and wide ranging speculation. This movie desperately needed to ratchet back the mystery because it hampered the storytelling pace. Director Howard handles this gamely, even creatively, but his bench lets him down. Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou have their moments, but too often they are wooden together. So is the dialog. In spots the lifeless speechifying makes Hanks, a two time Academy Award winner, sound like he’s in “Plan 9 from Outer Space.”
Winning performances by McKellen, Bettany and Jean Reno as an obsessed police captain raise the interest level. So does the buzz surrounding “The Da Vinci Code” outside the theater.