Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

The Da Vinci Code Directed By Ron Howard

August 11, 2013

The Da Vinci CodeI will be approaching my review for the film version of The Da Vinci Code differently then most of my reviews. While in most of my reviews about films adaptations I try to only compare and contrast in order to make a point, here I plan to do almost nothing but compare and contrast. The reason for this, is that I feel that such controversial subject matter  should be handled delicately, and such it is interesting to see which things the book handled better, and which the movie handled better.

For starters, the movie is a lot smaller then the book. While at first glance this would seem to be a disadvantage it actually has some pros. For example, with less time to go into the conspiracy they movie is forced to keep to just its nuts and bolts, which means a lot of the more ridiculous “evidence” supporting the conspiracy is cut, and therefore makes the conspiracy seem much more likely. On the flip side it also means alot off character development is cut from the story. For example, Silas’ back story is reduced to such an incoherent flashback that unless you read the novel you would have no idea what said flashback is getting at. As a result Silas goes from a clear tragic villain, to a character MEANT to be portrayed as a classic villain but SEEN as a normal villain.

Finally, some characters like Bishop Aringarosa went from being morally gray characters to being pure black for no reason whatsoever. In a story as steeped in controversy as The Da Vinci Code if you are going to add even MORE conroversy to it, like the change in the aforementioned bishop’s moral alignment, you would be best to have a very good reason for it.

All in all though the shorter format of the movie makes it flow much better then the book.

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The Andromeda Strain (Miniseries) directed by Mikael Salomon

February 22, 2013

001The miniseries version of The Andromeda Strain, which was directed by Mikael Salomon, was an attempt to retell the classic tale, for modern times. The decision to make it into a 2 episode miniseries with each episode being two hours long, was because they wanted to go into greater detail about Andromeda’s origin’s among other things. This decision was, in my opinion, a mistake. In order to make this 4 hours long they added a lot of weird, unnecessary, and often detracting ideas. For example while Andromeda was pretty out there in terms of its capabilities in both the original novel and the movie adaptation, it was still within the realm of possibility. whereas the miniseries raises its capabilities WAY beyond the suspension of disbelief. The miniseries also opens up a plot hole or two. Just like in the book the wildfire team discovers that Andromeda can only exist within a very narrow range of Ph because of the extreme Ph ranges of the two survivors. HOWEVER, they then go on to say that they cannot use this to cure Andromeda without killing human hosts because the ph range that Andromeda can exist in is the same as human beings, DESPITE the fact that two people clearly SURVIVED IN SAID PH RANGE. Then there is the conspiracy plot, where an unknown governmental agency tries to collect some Andromeda for use in biological warfare. There is just one problem with this idea. When most armed forces have a biological weapon they want to have numerous failsafe to protect their own people. In this they can either vaccinate their forces against the disease, have the abilities to cure their soldiers, or they know how the disease transmits and they can safely isolate themselves until the epidemic dies off. All of these methods of dealing with said biological method have one thing in common, the biological agent, though virulent, has a low rate of mutation and therefore the country in question does not have to worry about the disease infecting them. Andromeda has been REPEATEDLY shown to mutate frequently and therefore would be too risky to use as a biological weapon. This is the reason why the U.S. government gave up on plans for using Andromeda that way in both the novel and the movie, despite the fact that had indeed been searching for new bio-weapons, Andromeda was just too risky. Another thing about the conspiracy plot in the book is that raises lots of questions but gives few if any answers. Although some ambiguity in a story ending is alright and can even be a good thing, this ending just leaves you feeling a bit more confused then satisfied. Now on to the good stuff, which believe it or not, does exist. First is the group dynamic of the wildfire team. Unlike the book and movie where one character was brought along as a compromise, and was looked down on by the rest of the staff as being a mere physician instead of a researcher. Yet that character becomes the main hero. In the miniseries all of them are researchers, yet some of them look down on each other, due to bad past relationships usually having to deal with politics. Despite these obstacles the team manges to come together to save the day. In addition they also bounce various ideas off each other and often one person’s ideas will inevitably contribute to another’s. The other good thing is the action scenes. The book and the movie are almost pure medical thriller, with only one, admittedly well done,  action scene at the very end. The miniseries however makes this an medical-thriller action-thriller combo, and the action scenes are handled quite well, and even the scientific stuff does not start getting ridiculous until the last 15 minutes or so of the first episode. It is the action scenes and the group dynamics that manage to keep this from being a total mess. While The Andromeda Strain miniseries might not be worth a purchase it is at least worth a rental.

Overall rating: 2 out of 5 stars

The Andromeda Strain directed by Robert Wise

December 12, 2012

The Andromeda Strain is the Movie adaptation fo Michael Crichton’s novel, and should not be confused with the later 2008 TV mini series. Directed by Robert Wise the film does a great job of bringing the drama and suspense of the book to the big screen. Just like the novel it is the story of a disease brought back to Earth from the upper atmosphere of the planet by a satellite. Since the plot is quite similar to the novel, discussed here, I want to go over how the movie goes about adapting some of the tricker elements of the novel to screen, and other aspects about the film medium. In the novel when two of the scientists are investigating Piedmont, the site of the contamination, they learn while some people died instantly others went quietly nuts, and committed suicide in such overly elaborate measures. Such methods include filling up a bathtub and holding their head underwater until they drowned, or filling their mouths full of airplane glue. In order to capture both of these the scene used a split scene technique, where one screen shows the scientists looking into the houses where the other show still shots of what they see. While the airplane glue scene is one of the still images, other images include a family that died right while eating dinner, food still on the table because they died so quickly. These seemingly normal shots help to make the bizarre suicides shots more surreal, and vice versa. The sound track has an electronic feel that fits the movie well, as most of it takes place in an underground labratory. Despite this it still manages to capture the feel ing of ominous danger, whenever the situation gets worse. Finally, WARNING: MINOR ENDING SPOILER HERE when Mark Hall attempts to escape the central core of the facility, so he can stop the nuclear self destruct sequence, he becomes poisoned by the automatic defense system of the lab. The camerawork does a great job showing how the poison is affecting him. As we see the scene shot from his P.O.V. in slow motion and getting slower as the poison starts shutting down his body. Finally, while the movie has a happy ending, it ends on ominous note pointing out that just because this disaster has been averted, there is no guarantee that a similar problem will not happen again.

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Angels & Demons directed by Ron Howard

December 4, 2010

The film adaptation of Angels & Demons has both its pros and cons. On the pro side the movie does an excellent job of capturing the urgency of the situation by showing cars racing through the city form one church to another in an effort to find the antimatter before time runs out and it explodes violently. Another pro was that instead of having the location of the antimatter being revealed by what is apparently a divine revelation there is instead a new clue that points them to St. Peter’s Tomb. On the con side however this change and others means the Carmerlengo‘s heel revelation comes completely out of nowhere with no foreshadowing what so ever. Also Cardinal Strauss‘s (Cardinal Moriati in the novel) position against warning people about the threat comes off not just as suspicious but downright reckless and uncaring which is quite a break from character for him in both the book and the later parts of the movie. however one can not help but love all the symbolism at the end of the film, and this is where the film, for all its faults, shines the brightest.

Overall Rating 3.5 out of 5 stars

The Carey Treatment directed by Blake Edwards

October 26, 2010

While the film adaptation of Micheal Crichton‘s A Case Of Need, directed by Blake Edwards is for the most part a faithful adaptation of the book, there are a few jarring changes. First off, the names of almost all of the characters whose surname isn’t Randall have had their names partly or completely changed from what their names are in the book. While this is a relatively minor detail, it can be jarring to those who first learned the story through the novel. Secondly and more importantly are the additions of a romance subplot and several action scenes. There was no romance in the book because the main character, John Barry, Peter Carey in the film, is married whereas in the film he is single.  The romance and action scenes add nothing to the film and in fact even detract from it, and leave one with the felling that the producers insisted, in a case of executive meddling gone wrong, that the scenes be added to in a n attempt to attract extra audience members. However the worst case of this is the last added action scene which changes the final plot point of the book, in a failed attempt to add more drama. While the story as a whole was solid these changes are striking enough to detract a great deal from the film.

Overall rating: 3.9 out of 5 stars