Akiva Goldsman Strikes Again
Well, “The Da Vinci Code” is finally out in theaters, and it looks like my hunch was correct; Rotten Tomatoes has it with only 16% positive reviews, putting it at the same level of cinematic artistry as last year’s epic films “Doom” (19%) and “The Dukes of Hazzard” (15%). (For 2004, RT found no movies as poorly reviewed as “Da Vinci”.)
So how do you turn a mega-selling potboiler into a big, steaming pile? Undoubtedly there’s going to be people blaming director Ron Howard, but there’s a much more likely suspect: screenwriter Akiva Goldsman.
Goldsman, who wrote the screenplay for “Da Vinci Code”, has been cranking out reliably awful scripts since the mid-90s:
Writer – filmography
- I Am Legend (2007) (announced)
- The Da Vinci Code (2006) (screenplay)
- Cinderella Man (2005) (screenplay)
- I, Robot (2004) (screenplay)
- A Beautiful Mind (2001) (written by)
- Practical Magic (1998) (screenplay)
- Lost in Space (1998) (written by)
- Batman & Robin (1997) (written by)
- A Time to Kill (1996) (screenplay)
- Batman Forever (1995) (screenplay)
- Silent Fall (1994) (written by)
- The Client (1994) (screenplay)
With the possible exception of “A Beautiful Mind”, that’s an unbroken stretch of big-budget Hollywood stink bombs. (Maybe “I Am Legend” will be Goldsman’s big break into non-suckiness. Somehow I doubt it.) The average Rotten Tomatoes score for an Akiva Goldsman-penned movie is a whopping 46%.
Goldsman proudly told an interviewer from the LA Times that he does as little thinking as possible while writing:
He follows what seems to be the classic rule book on how to become a successful Hollywood screenwriter. He swears by screenwriting guru Robert McKee, eschews writing original scripts, and worships at the altar of the three-act structure.
“The screenplays I write are formally very predictable,” Goldsman says. “They’re essentially the one-page version of a clothing dummy. They have two legs, a middle, two arms and a head. I can dress them up pretty on a good day, but the structure is simple, and I like that.”
Interestingly, “A Beautiful Mind” — which earned Goldsman an Oscar for his screenplay — is the only screenplay he’s written since 1994’s “Silent Fall” that he didn’t adapt from someone else’s original work. So anyone with any sense of probability could probably have guessed that the “Da Vinci Code” screenplay would be pretty ripe as soon as they heard Goldsman was attached to it.