Since Kim and I have been dreadfully slack in our cinema consumption so far this year, we decided to catch up on three (3 (III (11(binary)))) of this weekend’s top showings. In order, they were:

Mission: Impossible: 3
Though it stars the recently publically outrageous Tom Cruise, the bold use of multiple colons in the title offsets any prejudice. This movie was, in my opinion, the best Mission: Impossible movie so far. It was gripping (in that I was ‘gripping’ the edge of my seat or a fold of my jeans throughout most of the movie) and engaging. There was little, if any, of the Charlie’s Angels frou-frou from M:I:2 (frou-frou is good in many contexts, including Charlie’s Angels movies, but I don’t care for any of it in my impossible missions), but it was faster and more action-packed than the first Mission. Phillip Seymour Hoffman made a perfectly despicable villain. It’s a little off-putting to see 40+ year-old Tom Cruise with a 25+ year-old fiancee, but I guess those kinds of things happen in the real world, too, and there’s not enough down time in the movie to worry about it. Of course, there were some divergences from scientific facts and plausibility, but what do you want? I’ll tell you – you want to see this movie!

The DaVinci Code
Let me begin this review with a foray into the book and the reception it’s seen from the literati (of which I consider myself a very peripheral member). I read the book and enjoyed it thoroughly. No, it was not dripping with jewels of prose, but I’ve never read James Joyce for the heady euphoria of wordsmithing. I’ve had friends and other people I respect call Dan Brown a hack, barely literate, and other less pleasant things. To those of you who have not yet written a book (I think that would be most of you), Shut the Hell up. I think it’s usually a cop-out to say people who deconstruct others’ successes are just jealous, but I honestly can’t think of any other plausible explanation. I don’t see Dan Brown as any worse than Michael Crichton or John Grisham, and I don’t recall so much animosity directed at them. If you were to say, “I don’t care for it for these reasons,” that would be one thing, and I could understand and respect that opinion. But when you say things like “This is among the worst drecht I’ve ever read,” “People who read these books are idiots,” “Dan Brown is the worst author of the century,” etc., you are simply confirming your self to be a blathering sourpuss. So please stop. If you could simply stop nit-picking about whether fallen logs and stumps constitute trees and realize you were in a forest, you’d understand that the genius (yes, I said and meant genius) of The DaVinci Code and Angels & Demons is in the ideas. As fictional as they are (very, and yes, Dan Brown has said they’re not fiction, and he may very well be a kook as well as a good author), they do an excellent job of tying together conspiracy theory, powerful institutions that many if not most readers have some personal investment in, and suspense in a way that necessarily produces a paradigm shift (if not for the reader, at least empathically through the main characters) by the end of the novel. I believe that the ability to produce a new and compelling paradigm from existing evidence that we have already used to construct the current accepted paradigm is perhaps the most valuable skill a novelist could have. It’s like those children’s stories, where if you open the door at the right time, or manage to step through a mirror, you enter a whole new magical world. That’s what Dan Brown does, for adults. You don’t have to enjoy it. But I demand that you respect it. Don’t make me shake my fist at you!

Sorry.

On to the movie. The movie wasn’t quite as good as the book (how many times have you heard that before), but it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting, based on some of the reviews I’ve read. It was reasonably faithful to the story line, though much of what I wanted from the movie was to see all of the sites, the inscriptions, the paintings, the statuary, etc. that the characters see in the book – they managed about 70% of it, which makes me wonder if the last 30% wasn’t photogenic, or wasn’t there. Tom Hanks’ delivery seemed stilted and leaden in parts, but I wonder if that isn’t actually quite faithful to the character. He is playing, after all, a University Professor. I would recommend it, but I don’t think it’s necessarily a theater movie. If your movie experience was anything like ours, there would be too many people around asking silly questions of their friends and spouses in voices not-hushed-enough to make the experience enjoyable.

Over the Hedge
We saw this movie for Kim, though as often happens, I ended up enjoying it more than she did. We had the brilliant plan of watching it after bed-time, and it actually worked out that our brilliant plan was brilliant! There was no talking or crying or walking around or kicking the back of the chairs or anything. Yay! As far as animated animal movies go, this one wasn’t overly ambitious and it did an excellent job of what it set out to do. The characters were laugh-out-loud funny (at least in parts), and very well drawn and animated. I expect a sequel. The moralizing (every kids’ movie must come with a moral) was a bit heavy in the beginning, and aimed at parents rather than kids, but it faded into the background of the story by the end. Yay! I would recommend the movie to anyone, unless they are easily offended by anti-capitalist propagandising.

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